As I inch closer to the finish line of my undergraduate career, I’m faced with the inevitable question of what I’m going to do when I graduate. Like so many, the daunting question puts me in a headspace of panic and uncertainty, as if preparing for graduation wasn’t stressful enough.
To help relieve the added pressure, I’ve attended job fairs, visited my school’s career center and spoke to professors and advisors to see what kinds of careers I could possibly be interested in. In the end though, I left feeling more confused about my future than I was before.
As I started to do my own research, I realized that there is a lot more than the traditional 9 to 5 desk jobs that we’re taught to strive for. We live in an age where we have the ability to start quite literally any career we want. What’s lacking in higher education is the curriculum on how to break away from the normative of working a 9 to 5 desk job and how to gain exposure and succeed in other types of careers.
Many younger generations, such as millennials and generation z, are more concerned about the meaning their career plays in their life. Looking toward alternative or modernized career paths, like the ones below, allows the freedom to express creativity or obtain flexibility while still sustaining oneself financially.
1. Making Videos for YouTube
When YouTube started in 2005, no one expected it to be what it is today. What was once a platform that seemed most useful in spreading viral videos quickly blew up into an opportunity for people to start documenting their personal lives, provide demonstrations for products, share their music and even yes, make money.
YouTube has become so popular that, according to an article from Business Insider, the site reportedly had 1.8 billion users a month in 2018, and that’s not including the people who visit the site without setting up an account.
This is great news for YouTubers, as the site monetizes channels that get a large number of views by including advertisements before and within the videos. The more views that a video gets, which then leads to multiple viewings of the advertisements, results in a larger payout for the owner of the channel.
Starting a YouTube channel is as easy as creating a Gmail account; often times, they’re even linked together as the same account. Once your account is set up, select My Channel under the initial in the top right corner, create a channel with your name (or whatever you want the channel to be called) and start uploading!
2. Blogging and Influencing
A lot of the time, the terms blogger and influencer are considered taboo. Many say that it’s not real work because anybody can do it. But what a lot of people don’t consider is the organizing, planning and execution that goes into creating a successful platform that people actually want to follow, not to mention creating actual content.
The first thing to understand is that there are different types of bloggers. For longer, written pieces, many will create their own website utilizing platforms like WordPress or Squarespace to upload posts, photos, links to their social media and sometimes even a page to shop. Bloggers can write about anything such as health and wellness, travel, beauty, fashion or any other niche that they may be interested in. Often times, bloggers will combine these topics and brand it as a lifestyle blog.
The other type of blogging is photo-blogging, otherwise known as influencing. This term rose to fame as Instagram, a universally known photo-sharing social media site, started gaining users that were racking up large amounts of followers. Many brands realized that if an Instagram user with a large following could promote their product, they could pay them to post about it rather than create costly campaigns or pay for online advertisement spaces elsewhere.
To become an influencer, it’s important to first build a following on your Instagram or other social media accounts. The more followers, along with high engagement and posting regularly, will allow you to approach brands and propose posting for them at a set fee. If other brands see that you’re doing well, they may approach you as well.
3. Working as a Freelancer
Although not a relatively new concept, freelancing, or working independently from a company, is not usually talked about when considering careers in college. Working as a freelancer allows you to determine how much you want to work with the flexibility of your schedule and allows diversity in your clientele.
Almost anyone can become a freelancer. Based on the field that you’re in, there are several different job boards such as Indeed, Monster or even LinkedIn that have companies looking for someone to do a project for them without being an actual employee of the company.
To be able to land a freelancing gig, often times companies or clients will request some sort of collection of your work and experience. This may include a portfolio or website that provides examples of the work you’re able to produce. What’s most important to remember as a freelancer is that sometimes there’s a lot of opportunity for work, and other times there isn’t. Being able to balance your finances and regularly search for work on your own is the key to succeeding as a freelancer.
With any one of these career paths, along with many others that aren’t on the list, the best thing to do is research which one most suits you. In my own experience, I’ve also found that simply reaching out and networking with people whose path I could see myself going down gives the best insight in what working in that field is like. Most of the time, people enjoy talking about their work and are happy to share any tips or advice for beginners trying to get their foot in the door.
Just because your career goals may not align with what you’re taught in school, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be your reality. If you’re passionate about what you do and work hard, whatever you choose to do will be rewarding and make the work all the more worth it.