10 things to do after graduation

If you believe Alice Cooper, then there comes a time when “school’s out forever.” Completing college is a huge milestone that may leave some students in a whirlwind of indecision. Not ready to settle down in that complacent 9-to-5 yet? Don’t want to commit to more textbooks and professors in graduate school? Consider trying one of these alternatives, some of which might be a bit off the beaten path.

1. Join the Peace Corps. This one isn’t for everybody, but for those with a sense of adventure and a desire to make a difference, it’s the perfect option. They send volunteers all over the world to help developing countries with various projects including HIV/AIDS services, education and agriculture. A two-year commitment is required, but perks include reduced tuition for grad school, work experience and a financial stipend.

Don’t want to make that large of a time commitment? Consider joining Volunteers for Prosperity, which is a similar program operating in the United States with time commitments varying depending on the project. Visit PeaceCorps.gov and VolunteersforProsperity.gov.

2. Drive the Wienermobile. “Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener!” Say what? It’s true! Driving that extra large hot dog and bun across the country is an actual job — and a rewarding one at that! The competition is fierce for the job of “Hotdogger,” and the perks are reflective of why. A competitive salary, benefits and networking experience are just the start. You get to travel, for free, up and down your assigned geographic area. A new team of Hotdoggers attend the Hot Dog High training academy annually, so submit your resume early. Visit http://brands.kraftfoods.com/oscarmayer/omm_wienermobile.htm.

3. Follow a band. You’re not tied down to a career, you have no kids in tow and you’re fresh off years of having your face glued to a book. It’s time to have some fun. Thousands of bands tour the U.S. all year, so take some time off and wander with the creative minds. Who knows? Maybe your follower status will be promoted to a roadie soon after! Web sites like RoadieJobs.com and Roadie.net detail the unique experiences of these people who make the shows happen. Party on Wayne! Party on Garth!

4. Travel … in a different way. It’s a relatively common thing for recent graduates to jet-set off to various locations around the world. Couchsurfing.com offers a unique travel experience where people open up their, well, living rooms to people from all over the world. Travelers can drift from open couch to open couch, from Peru to Slovakia. Best of all, the service is free and you can meet some awesome people along the way. Another option is to participate in a house swap where people switch houses, cars or everything for a designated amount of time. Web sites like HomeforSwap.com and Craig’s List help with this process. Even if it’s just getting out of your comfort zone for a little while, traveling is truly the best way to experience life.

5. Intern. Don’t be fooled; interning is not just for undergrads. Tons of companies want interns with a college degree under their belt, and often these post-grad internships lead to full-fledged job offers. Idealist.org conveniently lists internships and volunteer opportunities from all over the world. Medical internships in Nepal and radio journalism internships in Ghana are just a few of the vast array of opportunities listed here. Getting hands-on experience in another country is priceless and an opportunity unlike anything you’ll ever receive in the U.S.

6. Teach for America. Future teachers will appreciate this option. Teach for America recruits recent college graduates and places them in urban and rural public schools that are in need of help for two years. Not only are you making a difference in the lives of at-risk youth, they offer an extensive alumni network of graduate schools and employers. Some schools even offer scholarships, loan deferrals and application fee waivers. Where else can you make a difference and get amazing professional experience at the same time? Visit TeachforAmerica.org.

7. Help the environment. Global warming has been the subject as of late, as far as conservation and sustainability go. However, there are plenty of other causes worth noting. Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms helps place volunteers on farms throughout the nation to help out and learn about the organic lifestyle in exchange for room and board. Additionally, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy trains volunteers to preserve resources of the historic trail that are vital to the survival of several species. Visit AppalachianTrail.org or WWOOF.org.

8. Teach English abroad. The best way to truly digest a culture is to spend time immersed in the people, society and life of a specific country. An excellent way to do this is to teach English in foreign countries. Teaching English is an in-demand profession in certain countries like Germany, Japan and Chile. UCI offers a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and offers job placement assistance after completion. The program itself takes about five months to complete while working or going to school full-time. Visit http://unex.uci.edu/certificates/education/tea/.

9. Work on a cruise ship. This is an absolutely perfect job for singles who desire something different. Jobs range from servers, to entertainers to casino dealers, and the upside is that most people aren’t required to work their jobs while the ship is in port. Therefore, employees are free to explore the destinations right along with the guests. Working at night and seeing all the landmarks of the world during the day isn’t a bad way to live. And doing it on the high seas is definitely a step up from ordinary! Visit CruiseLinesJobs.com.

10. Do something you’ve always wanted to do. Now here’s the big one. Your entire college career has been a tangled web of analysis and planning, and you’ve had to put things aside, things that you’ve really wanted to do, in order to accomplish your goal of achieving a degree. Now you’ve got it and it’s time to make up for lost opportunities. Jump out of an airplane, design that graphic novel or submit that jingle you’ve secretly been humming to yourself all year. Do what makes you happy. Finally.