That awkward gap between graduation and landing a full-time job can be stressful. It’s frustrating to apply to so many places and embark on so many interviews. But most people don’t realize until it’s far too late that this is actually the best time to do all the things you’ve wanted to do but never had the time for. Make the most of this time and do these eight things before you start working.
1. Learn something new.
You’ve spent the last few years learning the skills you need for your major. Now you have the chance to learn something really fun that wasn’t taught in a lecture hall. With your free time, try to do something that you’ve never done, either by enrolling in a continuing education class or watching YouTube videos. Do you want to learn how to cook? Or perhaps, do you want to build something? Go for it. Now is also a good time to learn a language for fun. You can still try to learn all these things when you get a full-time job, but before you start working, you can really commit to learning something new.
2. Travel near and far.
Gap years are becoming increasingly popular after graduation, but it’s not always realistic to dedicate so much time and money to traveling. What you can do, however, is go on some amazing road trips. There are so many destinations across the United States that you and your friends can have a truly unforgettable time on the road.
Worried about money? Try camping along the way or meeting up with friends that live across the country. A trip of a lifetime doesn’t have to break the bank.
3. Brush up that resume.
You should enjoy the time before you start working, but there is still some work to be done. Take the time to perfect your resume. Consult with fellow graduates and professionals that you know to ensure your resume really pops. Actually applying to jobs is the easy part, as putting together the perfect resume takes a lot of the work. It’ll be a big relief once you nail everything down.
4. Save up some money.
Before you start working full time, try to earn some money with either a part-time job or freelance work. The job might not be the greatest, but it’ll be a good way to earn yourself a little extra money as you search for a full-time job. The best work would be something part-time with flexible hours so you can still have some freedom.
You’ll be glad that you were working before landing a full-time job, as new jobs often involve traveling to a different city or state. Not all employers cover travel costs, so that money you earned will be put to good use.
5. Think about what you want in life.
Now is a good time to really think about what you want in life. You have your degree, but that doesn’t really tell you much. Think of what you want to do and where you want to be. It may sound cheesy, but you should also think about where you want to be five years from now. Before you start a full-time job, you can brainstorm what’s most important to you so you can work toward making it happen.
6. Catch up on some reading.
Most of your textbooks are (hopefully) long gone. Now you can read things that are actually fun. Feel free to binge-read all the books you may have missed in the past few years, and enjoy some of the trashier (but wholly entertaining) novels out there. You’ll likely have to read some dry material when you land your full-time job, so for right now, read the things you’ve always wanted to read.
Giving back to the community is a great way to make a difference. An added benefit of volunteering is that it’s proven to make people happier. Find a cause you believe in and reach out to the organization to see how you can help. Most nonprofits are so short-staffed that they welcome all the hands they can get. Another benefit of volunteering? It’s a great way to find out what you really love doing, which is something that employers often look for when hiring. All the more reason to help out, right?
8. Don’t stress too much.
That time before you get your first full-time job is nerve-wracking. Odds are, you’ve applied to a bunch of places and haven’t heard back from many of them. Or maybe you’re still not sure what you want to do. No matter what your situation, the best thing you can possibly do is try not to stress out too much. When you start working, you’ll look back at this time period fondly. You’ll also long for the amount of free time you had. It’s a great time of your life, so just enjoy it as you prepare for everything the next stage will bring.