24 Year Old College Senior - Considering Potential Career Options

Gents,

As my penultimate semester approaches (Spring 2013), I'm now fully concerned on 1) finishing my damn college career, and 2) doing real work when I'm done. I'm sick of school - I want independence and to be a working man for a change. 

The problem I'm facing is that of what to do - most of the things I am interested in have low job prospects in this economy. Ideally I'd love to teach at the college level, but other levels would work as well. However, those aren't the only things I'm interested in. I love brewing beer - that would be something awesome yet I have no clue how to get into that besides trying to get into the UC Davis brewing program. I also know some people here in politics - urban planning has always appealed to me.

I do volunteer with the Coast Guard - and was considering that, but I'm 24. Part of me wants to settle down a bit. I mean find one place and use it as a base for my travels. And it's not easy to join the USCG - the waitlist is long and they are ULTRA stringent - even though by the time I'm done I'd probably be advanced enough in the Auxiliary to qualify for an A-school straight outta basic. I do love to travel though, and I lived in Italy this summer so conosco un po di' italiano. If I could do something to get me back there. I would also love an outdoorsy job as well. I'm a good public speaker, have lots of teaching experience due to my volunteering and my old job as a writing tutor. 

I just honestly have no freaking clue what to settle on. Have you gentlemen faced this conundrum before? 

- Dan

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It sounds like your college is irrelevant to career.  I suppose it's too late to bring this up now, but what's your major, and wouldn't it make sense for it to be something that will qualify you for a job?

Meanwhile, I suggest you go over to the career development center, take a career interest inventory, and get some ideas of jobs that fit your interests.  Then start preparing for them.

Double major in History and Political Science. It's too late for me to change. I would have done 4 years in the Coast Guard or the Navy and went for chemistry if I could go back in time. 

I already ran to the career counselors. That's where I got the idea about urban planning related stuff.

I know I need to get involved in those career fairs and the like. I am not going to graduate until next fall (unless I drop my poli sci major, but then it gives me another summer for an internship). 

I majored in poli sci, but went to law school immediately after getting my undergrad degree.  Personally, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone as a major, including pre-law students.  Even less so for people who have no intention of going to law school.  There are much more practical degrees out there, and even law schools are looking for more than just English and Poli Sci majors.

 

Poli sci is a just a tough field to get a job in.  Lots of graduates, not too many jobs.  And, a lot of those jobs are fairly low paying and/or extremely competitive ... pitting you against politically-minded people with law degrees or advanced poli sci degrees.

 

You have a couple of options here.  First, you need to get certified to teach history or government K-12.  That will immediately make your degree more practical.  If all else fails, you can teach jr. high or high school.

 

Second, if you have political connections, I'd exploit them.  Politics is one of those businesses where who-you-know matters.

 

Third, if you have options for grad school, I might look into them to try to set yourself apart from the pack.  This is particularly true if you want to teach at the college level.  You need a Masters or Ph.D.  You might look into getting a teaching certificate for a current day-job, and taking night graduate level classes to get an advanced degree as a plan for the future.

 

JB

I've been thoroughly convinced that law school is a bad idea. It was my plan when I transferred from my community college over to Temple, but that was before I spoke to a lot of people in the field. 

I am going to look into getting that teaching certificate as soon as possible. I know a few people and can ask around.

I've pretty much decided that I don't want to go into grad school right off the bat. I would like to work for a while and then go back to school. I'm at my wit's end with school and not having any financial independence. 

Law school isn't necessarily a bad idea for everyone.  There are way too many lawyers ... but surprisingly few good ones.  The smart and entreprenurial will succeed even in a flooded market ... the average or not-so-entreprenurial won't.  You can still make a good living at it, but, you'll pay your dues first.  Despite popular sentiment, you're not likely to walk out of law school and into a six-figure job.  You're more likely to walk into an average-pay job, and work your way to better money once you've proven your worth.

 

As far as I'm concerned, small town law practice is where its at.  Big cities are flooded with lawyers, and the jobs largely suck.  Cutthroat and overworked.  Lots of grunt work for young lawyers, not a lot of real experience.  Lives suffer.  Marriages end.  It ain't worth it.


Small towns are different.  Reasonable work hours.  Real on-the-ground experience.  Little bit of everything.  Young big firm lawyers never get into the courtroom ... young small town lawyers do it all the time.  I just moved to a small town firm from the city.  Honestly ... I'll never go back.

 

As for taking a break on school ... if you want a grad degree, I'd bite the bullet and do it now.  Nothing worthwhile comes easy.  In my experience, most people who plan to go back to school never get around to it.  Life intervenes.  Its a lot easier to live on nothing while you're getting a Masters or Ph.D. when you don't have a wife and kids to support.


JB

I love politics, law, and all that fun stuff. I don't even care about making 6 figures - never did. My idea of going to law school was to study hard, make connections, and do some good - maybe try and work my way up in working up the prosecutor chain. 

I love the city though, and there is part of me that seriously chafes at the idea of moving away. For some reason it just does. 

I can't take another 4 years of school and not being able to hold down decent work and adding more debt. Right now, when I graduate, I'll owe just a little more than average. If I go to grad school it'd be ridiculous. 

I live in the suburbs of a big city, and commute to work in a small town law firm. Best of both worlds.

For what its worth, prosecutor gigs are a LOT easier to get in a small town. Big city DA offices have piles of resumes for just a few ADA positions -- small towns don't. Plus, you get the good cases right off-the-bat. It takes years to work past misdemeanors in a big city prosecutor's office. You'll do felonies pretty quick in a small town.

Masters Degrees only take two years, not four ... my brother just finished one. Law degrees are three years. Ph.D.s are four or five, I think -- my father's Ph.D. took 5 years, but that's been a while ago. If it was easy, everybody would've done it. Its supposed to be hard. Just think, if you'd floored-it through undergrad, you'd already have a Masters.

Debt is another story entirely ... but, there's no reason you can't get a job and pay your way through in cash. Like I said -- get a teaching certificate and a day job teaching somewhere, and get your Masters in night school.

JB

I think the teaching certificate is something I'm seriously going to consider. I'm gonna talk to the lawyers I know about law school then, and look at a practice LSAT and GRE just to do it. 

Maybe see if the Municipal Court needs interns or something (I know a judge). 

Well no, since I graduated in 2006 on a well-funded ride to Penn State with aims in getting a B.S. in meteorology. But I was an idiot and got involved in dumb sh!t instead of going to class. So that's been over with since 2008. I'm a senior at Temple now. 

And I think if someone truly is passionate in a field and would like to be involved in it, they should go for it. I'm just looking to graduate. I've maxed out my federal aid and refuse to indebt myself any further in order to course correct (say, major in something I'd like AND that has job prospects such as chemistry or GIS). 

The Navy and the CG both have their options. I go back and forth. Sometimes I'd like to settle down and all (I'm civic minded and love my city). Other days I just wanna go and have an adventure. I don't think I'd necessarily have to move - I live in Philadelphia - for a job. Unless, of course, I consider the service. I just need to get down to their accession physical standards. I have a leg up on other applicants to the Coast Guard by volunteering with them. 

6 years already in? I think you've already used up your free-loving college experience years. At this point I'd just find a career that can pay the bills and focus on that. Maybe the Navy would be a good option. I'm not a Yank so I don't know the specifics.

I'm curious though if you have a father-figure at home. You blew a scholarship and are now 6 years in on an Arts degree with no job prospects. How is there not a parent-shaped boot on your arse yet? If there isn't then you're going to have to put your own there. Times a'wasting.

Point is. You have no plan and you are building up debt. Better to get a plan and stick to it. If it fails, you can at least learn from it and start a new one. But to be honest you sound pretty aimless. Inspiration is not going to strike out of nowhere. I think its easier to find what you want in life while working on something than just waiting for "it" to come to you.

Absolutely not. I had a piece of sh!t for a father, and our lives are better now that he's dead. I don't get the antagonism - I haven't been doing nothing the last few years. When I got back to Philadelphia I went immediately back to school, started working, volunteering, getting my life sorted out. I'm quite proud that I've made it this far from what I was. That was four years ago - I finally have graduation on the horizon, I have contacts from volunteering, I've gotten to leave the nation and see Europe. So your image of me as sitting around doing nothing is very much not the case. I've got a lot of options, I don't know what the hell to pursue - I have a hard time narrowing my options because I have a few places I could go in the next few years of my life and I don't know what to do. 

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