January 18, 2010

What to do after graduation -- It may not be what you think it is

Let's face it, the job market sucks for journalists right now. And it looks like it will continue to suck for several more years.

So what is a bright young graduate supposed to do? Because face it, the whole job market really sucks right now.

There are ways to get someone to train and pay you to become much more marketable. You just have to know where to look.

For my money nothing is better for a just-graduated journalism student than to join the Peace Corps. (And I have recommended this to all of my journalism classes.)

I met with dozens of Peace Corps volunteers during my time in the Dominican Republic. (And it seemed at times that they all stayed in our house -- all at the same time -- more than once.)

The volunteers came from many different walks of life and experiences. What they had in common was curiosity about other cultures and a desire to do good.

They hardly lived the "good life." Housing was adequate. (One volunteer had a beautiful house on a hill top overlooking one of the most beautiful lush valleys I have ever seen. And the house was only a short walk to the community toilet and community well.)

What they all did have, was the respect of the local Dominicans and, as the projects ended, the satisfaction that they had helped another group of people climb their way out of poverty and hunger.

Besides the feeling of satisfaction for a job well done, what else did the volunteers get?
  • Most had their student loans deferred while they were in the Peace Corps
  • They learned another language.
  • They learned management and organizational skills
  • They learned how financial and social conditions affect individuals and communities
  • They learned how to better listen and react to the needs of local communities
And they grew up faster and became more mature than if they had stayed at home and found a 9-5 job.

Go to this page to see the official list of benefits a Peace Corps volunteer gets.

Why do I recommend the Peace Corps?
  • It gives a graduate a different experience.
  • It broadens his/her perspectives about the world.
  • It helps the person better understand what people "not like them" have to go through to survive.
  • It makes a person more "hireable" because of that global exposure.
When mangers are hiring they look for more than academic credentials. They also look at a person's character. (Unless they are hiring lawyers or ad execs. Character is not a requirement there. :)) The Peace Corps helps a candidate stand out from the pack.

And it gives the graduate a chance to look around and take a break from the work of education before he/she moves on to the work of working everyday.

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