Choosing an unconventional path

Undergraduate students will receive their diplomas on May 18 (Villager File Photo).

Graduate from high school. Go to college. Graduate from college. Go to graduate school or get a real job. 9-5. Sounds like a pretty typical life for the average millennial and Gen Z’er.

Setting aside the job interview to pursue a particular passion may be the choice of some college graduates who are not ready to choose a 9-to-5 career. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

But it doesn’t have to be. Not everyone decides to pursue the typical post-college graduation options. Some people are taking a different route, be it becoming an independent film maker and Pilates teacher or deciding to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a drag queen, for instance.

According to Alison Doyle, writer for “The Balance,” there are several options that can come after college graduation. Investing in one’s passion, volunteering, traveling recreationally, or even organic farming are just some of the endless possible experiences.

Jari Neuman was a film student at UMBC, completing her education last spring. Instead of jumping immediately into the film industry, Jari decided to pursue another passion of hers: teaching Pilates.

“My main goal in life is to work in the film industry,” she said. “I’ve worked freelance films for the past two years. But it’s not the most consistent job. Pilates, well, it’s a more financially stable job. It’s something that I love to do. I’m passionate about it. So, while I’m working towards becoming a full-time film maker, I can do something that I love and get paid consistently for. I thought I had a plan, but then, things happen, you know? And, right now, my plan might not be the most conventional, but I’m proud of it.”

A Stevenson freshman whose name has been withheld here has always had dreams of performing drag professionally. Now, these dreams are starting to turn into action.

“I came to college, knowing that I wanted to become a drag queen, so I could have a backup plan, just in case,” he said. “Drag helps me be who I am.”

Pursuing an unconventional life after college does not necessarily have to be scary.

“I’ve grown tremendously as a person, and I am more open and understanding than I have ever been,” said Lori Hil, a contributor to Forbes magazine. “Being thrown into the unknown does that to a person.”

Are you considering some unconventional paths after college? Stevenson’s Office of Career Services can still help. Every credible experience is something to add to a resume. The things that helped to form you as a person should be showcased in your resume, whether or not that experience is considered conventional.

More and more students are pursuing what is called a “senior gap year,” in which they might volunteer for organizations like the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Teach for America, or City Year. These experiences can add to a person’s life lessons as well as a resume. Teaching abroad by enrolling in programs through international embassies or organizations like JET is also another option that addresses the travel bug as well as career uncertainties.

There is also something called a “working holiday visa,” which some countries, including Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, sponsor for 18-to-30-year olds. These special visas allow graduates (or others searching for a career) to visit and work for a limited amount of time, which visitors find work and lodging. The jobs may not always be exciting, but traveling to another continent may be worth the shortfalls.

In short, there is never only one path to success. Pursuing personal dreams can also be fulfilling. Life after college does not have to be ordinary; it can be extraordinary.

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