It's two weeks before graduation. You have two internships under your belt and a stellar grade point average. But despite submitting your résumé to 80 companies throughout the country, you still have not landed a job. What's a recent college grad to do?
Lately, the trend has been to take part-time internships or fellowships until a full-time gig becomes available. For some recent graduates, taking on a low paying, part-time job is hard to swallow when student loan payments are just six months away. However, staying employed in your field -- even if it's part-time -- will eventually help you land a full-time job once the economy turns around.
But there is some good news. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' "Job Outlook 2010 Spring Update" report, employers plan to hire 5.3 percent more new graduates from the 2009-10 class than they did in the 2008-09 school year. Companies in the Northeast have the best outlook, where a 25.5% increase is projected.
If you are graduating this spring, here are a few alternative employment opportunities.
People tend to get internships and fellowships confused. Fellowships are more competitive and tend to pay more money than a traditional internship. There are fellowship programs in every field. You can conduct an online search for fellowships in your field. Cornell University and Columbia University have a great fellowship databases.
2. Part-Time Internships
I know it's a difficult to take on another internship after spending the last two summers of college as an intern making little pay. But employers who may not have the funds to hire you full time right now might be willing to have you come in a few days a week. Idealist.org is a great resource to find internships.
When people hear the word volunteer, they automatically assume it's unpaid, but not necessarily. Many years ago, I volunteered as an AmeriCorps VISTA through the Corporation of National & Community Service. I was given a modest monthly allowance, full health benefits and an education award. VISTA members make a year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency in low-income, urban or rural communities.
Typically, VISTAs do not do direct service, such as tutoring a child or physically building a home. Instead, VISTAs develop programs, write grants, help build organizations, and recruit and train volunteers.
If you are looking for more of an adventure, consider joining the Peace Corps. Volunteers for the Peace Corps make a two-year commitment helping a poor country. Volunteers work with governments, schools, and entrepreneurs to address changing and complex needs in education, health and HIV/AIDS, business, information technology, agriculture, and the environment. During service, volunteers receive pay/living expenses, transition money, vacation time, medical benefits and deferment of student loans. The Peace Corps also covers the travel costs to and from the country of service. Some Peace Corps programs can even coincide with a master's degree.