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3 Alternatives to Entry Level Jobs for Recent Grads

In a tough job market graduates need to be creative when it comes to finding ways to earn a living. In this article Maria Rainier shows you 3 ways recent grads can get ahead. ~Tim McMahon, editor

3 Alternatives to Entry Level Jobs for Recent Grads

By Maria Rainier

Today’s job market is enough to make even the most stoic and ascetic of philosophy majors fear for their quality of life. And the fact is, students are right to be worried. Economists are calling this the “Great Recession”, a label that the last four years certainly deserve — since 2007 unemployment levels have reached near record highs, almost as high as during the 1980’s recession, and though the situation has improved slightly, the outlook still isn’t great.

Current Unemployment Rate Chart

For more information See: Unemployment Rate 1948-Current

Only ten years ago a bachelor’s degree could get you an entry level job at a respectable firm where you could work for a few years, climb a few rungs up the corporate ladder, and gain some valuable experience that would further propel your career.

Today even that word “career” is becoming something of an anachronism of an era long gone.

So what is a young aspiring student to do?

Is there even a reason to go to college?

The answer is a resounding “yes”; it’s just the years after college that might need some reconsideration.

See: The Difference a Degree Makes in Unemployment Levels

In the past, the standard thing to do was get an entry level job, but as already outlined, that is happening less and less frequently. What the student of today needs are alternatives to the grind, ways to get started in the working world that don’t necessarily rest on starting from the bottom and working up with one company.

Here are a few alternatives that college grads can consider when employment options are slim pickings:

1. Start a Business

Before you start hemming and hawing about how risky starting a business is, I’m not saying that it is safer to be an entrepreneur than to be a job-seeker, but it is an alternative, and one that has actually gained traction in the past few years, and especially for young people. Start-ups are hip, and if you have the right idea, and the wherewithal to persist, even without a sign of profit, there is a lot of potential for success.

During a recession, certain costs of starting a business are reduced. For example, you might be able to negotiate a lower rent for your company office, suppliers might offer you discounts, and employees might be willing to work for less. There are even government incentives and funding opportunities that can help you get your feet off the ground.

Still, starting a business is extremely hard work, requires long hours, and is definitely not for the faint of heart. It can be one way, however, to avoid trying to find an traditional employment. One interesting new business you can start is as a Social Media Consultant or Manager. If you enjoy using social media like Facebook and Twitter your skills are in demand. You can help companies with their Facebook and Twitter by monitoring online communications and making companies more “personal”.  Find out more about how you can become a Social Media Manager.

2. Freelancing

Some might try to argue that starting a business and freelancing are the same thing — and you might be say they are two sides of the same coin — but they are markedly different from each other. Freelancers contract their expert services out to interested parties, and make a profit; entrepreneurs build up a new product or service and try to compete in an existing market.

To be a freelancer you have to be well versed in the field you work in, and you also need to be able to work around odd schedules. Some businesses are willing to pay contractors a higher hourly rate, even when times are rough, because it is cheaper than hiring a full time employee with all the related benefits costs. But if you have a valuable skill, you can pitch your services to employers as a contract job and make a living that way, though you will miss out on some of the benefits of the corporate world, such as vacation pay and sick time.

3. Working Overseas

Something to consider while in school is signing up for an overseas work program. Most often this means teaching English in other countries, but there are other opportunities for students across a variety of disciplines.

The best way to obtain work in another country is to do so while still in school, as most universities can connect students with work opportunities that might otherwise be inaccessible to them. Once you return to the States, you will have valuable experience in the working world that will make it easier to start a career. However, the opportunities will be increasingly difficult to come by, so try to take advantage of them while you can.

The economy is improving, but it isn’t completely recovered. In the meantime, look into alternatives and you will have a better chance of coming out on top.

If you are still in college see: Internships Can Help

Also See: 10 Awesome Jobs You Can Do From Home

About the Author:

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online colleges, online degrees etc. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.