Whether you’re in your first semester of college or your last, you’ve probably asked yourself: what am I going to do after I graduate?
Post-grad life can be super scary and overwhelming, especially if you don’t know all of your options. When I decided to major in Digital Media & Communications, I assumed there was only one path I could follow. I’d have to just get my degree, get a desk-job at a PR or marketing agency, then work a 40-hour week for the rest of my life, right?
The good news is, I was totally wrong. The possibility of working in an office eight hours a day definitely didn’t excite me, no matter how much I loved my field of study. So, after doing some research, I realized that I wasn’t actually tied down to that option. In fact, no matter what your major is, there are so many alternative, creative paths you can take with your degree. If office jobs don’t thrill you either, here are five careers to pursue that break the 9-to-5 mold.
- Social media consultant
This past year, we have relied on digital media more than ever. Through quarantine and stay-at-home orders, social media and online communication has been our only way to reach out and connect with one another. As a result, tons of small businesses and companies are searching for professional advice on how to navigate their social platforms and digitally expand their brand.
How do you become a social media consultant?
As a social media consultant, your objective is to seek out clients who need to increase their online presence, spruce up their social media pages, and generally get some help in the digital marketing department. This role is often freelance-based and can be fulfilled remotely, giving you tons of flexibility and control over your own schedule.
The responsibilities of a social media consultant include creating content calendars, tracking data and analytics, planning paid campaigns and advertisements, and generating online engagement. You can find clients and build your portfolio through sites such as Fiverr, Freelancer, Upwork, or Facebook networking groups.
According to Zippia, 61.8 percent of social media consultants have a bachelor’s degree. If your degree is in communications, marketing, digital media, public relations, or a related field, you’ve already got a leg up. If not, you can still pursue this career path. There are tons of free certifications you can get to increase your education and credibility: clients will feel more comfortable hiring you if you are certified in Google AdWords, Google Analytics, HubSpot Social Media Marketing, and Hootsuite.
- Real estate agent
As a real estate agent, you get to be your own boss. Real estate is always in business, but it takes hustle. If you love taking control of your work environment, facing a new challenge everyday, and working for yourself, you might want to consider this industry.
The title “real estate agent” can mean many different things. Once you break into the industry, there are tons of directions you can take. If you choose to become a residential real estate agent, you’ll be helping families and individuals buy and sell their homes. Your responsibilities could include homebuyer consultations, listing appointments, hosting open houses, scheduling home tours, cold-calling, digital marketing, and market research.
You could also look into commercial real estate sales, apartment leasing, house-flipping, home appraisal, investing, and so much more.
How do you become a real estate agent?
To become a real estate agent, all you need to do is earn your real estate license. Each state has different procedures and laws for the licensure process. Typically, you will be required to take a pre-licensing course, a course exam, and a state-administered exam. Once you fulfill these requirements, you’ll get your license and can employ a real estate brokerage to represent you. Your broker will train you in the business, provide resources such as sales contracts, and account for all your transaction funds.
While you are attached to a brokerage as a real estate agent, you’re still working for yourself. It is up to you to find clients and provide the services they need. Therefore, this role requires a strong work ethic, the ability to put yourself out there, and a love for human connection. If you seek diversity, control, and hustle in your career, this one’s definitely for you.
- Virtual assistant
A virtual assistant is someone who provides services to a company or professional individual from a remote location. These services can be just about anything: administrative work, graphic design, digital marketing, bookkeeping, customer support, blogging, data entry and more. It all depends on your employer and skills.
In this role, you’re able to work from wherever you want, whether you’re traveling to a different country or chilling in bed in your pajamas. Virtual assistance is a fairly new career path, but is booming in popularity.
How do you become a virtual assistant?
There are many ways to break into the VA world. Some virtual assistants work as independent freelancers, while others work under an agency that provides clients.
For example, Virtual Assistant Talent is a staffing agency that hires and places virtual assistants with businesses and brands in need. This is a great way to get your foot in the door and find clients right away. Other agencies include MyOutDesk, TimeDoctor, and WoodBows. If you want to take charge of your virtual assistance business, you can market yourself on freelancing sites and networks. If you’ve got a skill, at least one company or brand out there is bound to need it.
- Personal trainer
Personally, I hate spending all of my time behind a computer screen. I don’t want a career where I’m sitting in the same spot and doing the same thing everyday. If you feel this way as well, you might be interested in personal training.
If you have a passion for fitness and love helping others, this career could be very rewarding. Being a personal trainer would allow you to be up on your feet, interact face-to-face with clients, set your own hours, and break out of traditional office settings.
How do you become a personal trainer?
If you want to be a fitness trainer, you need to get certified. When seeking certification, it’s important to find an organization that’s accredited. Certification programs don’t require experience or specific degrees, so it’s OK if you’re new to the industry. The educational course typically ends with a proctored exam.
Once you pass your exam and get that certificate, you can find employment in many different ways. If you’re interested in being your own boss, you can totally start your own personal training business and seek clients out on your own. This route could be challenging, but gives you freedom and control in your professional life.
If you want a bit more stability, you could go with commercial gyms. Clubs such as Planet Fitness, Gold’s Gym, Pure Barre, and OrangeTheory frequently hire new trainers. You could also check with local community centers, hotels, spas, hospitals, and wellness centers.
Fitness training is all about helping and motivating people. You should be nurturing, patient, enthusiastic, and optimistic. If you’re currently majoring in a science-related field — biology, chemistry, pre-med, or health sciences — but don’t want to enter a traditional medical role, this could be a great path for you to take.
- Small business owner
Starting your own business can seem pretty daunting. But if you love making decisions, taking charge, and having professional independence, you could thrive as a small business owner.
How do you become a business owner?
The process of starting your own business depends on your services, product, and location, among many other things. However, the first step for any aspiring business owner is to create a business plan.
In your business plan, you will need to identify a mission and sort out all of the details in between. Start by asking yourself: What are my skills? What services can I offer? Maybe you like to make homemade jewelry, develop websites, write articles, walk dogs, or sell clothes.
Then, figure out the details. How much does it cost to make my product and how much will I sell it for? Will I work digitally or from a physical location? How will I secure finances? What is my target audience and how will I reach them? You can find tons of business plan templates online that will guide you through the process and ask every question you need to answer.
If you’re feeling a little intimidated, you can start by using third-party sites such as Etsy, Indiemade, Wix, or even Instagram. This will help you get your feet on the ground, and gauge the demand and demographic for your business before launching it on your own.
Post-grad life can be overwhelming, but it should also be exciting. If you feel like you’re dreading your career after college, make sure you’re considering all of your options. While lots of people enjoy working in structured, office environments, it’s not for everyone. If the 9-to-5 grind isn’t for you, there are still so many paths you can take.