You’ve just graduated in fall, now what? Opportunities for Recent Graduates

Hallmark really needs to step up their game.  Have you ever tried finding a graduation card in December?  In June you’ve got aisles of “Dads and Grads” merch but in December? Good luck with that.  While the holidays take center stage in winter it’s important to remember that you’re a college graduate!! You did it. Although the world is focused on the holidays, because let’s be honest folks are looking forward to getting a break, do not forget to celebrate because you’ve made it to the finish line!! 

Walk this Way

I know a lot of students that participate in a spring commencement whether it’s before they actually finish (walking in May) or after (walking in June). This is a fantastic feeling because you see everyone else around you but in December it’s a little bit different. It feels rushed. You don’t have the same pomp and circumstance.  You likely have one graduation ceremony and then you’re officially finished. Spring graduates may attend many (department commencement,  major commencement, identity based commencement, college wide commencement, etc) but in fall probably just one.  On top of that it’s not uncommon for fall graduates to worry about what’s next if they don’t have something immediately lined up. Maybe you decided to take an extra semester because you wanted to add a minor or maybe you decided to study abroad for a semester? And while that trip to Japan may have been so worth postponing your graduation a semester you now find yourself wondering did I do the right thing?  Maybe you wanted to save money and you had so many AP’s that you said to yourself, why not? I’ll be a spring grad. But then now you’re thinking what’s next? For some reason people think just because you’ve graduated that you wake up the next morning knowing exactly what’s next on the horizon. Many students do not and that is 100% okay particularly as we’re still in a pandemic.  

As a fall grad you might be taking a gap year or at least a gap semester but where does that leave you? If you’ve applied to graduate school then you’ve got until next fall so what do you do now?  So my fall grads here are some opportunities for you to explore. I have curated a list of opportunities just for you: 

  1. Continue working on campus for a semester.  A lot of students may not know this but there is usually a grace period after you graduate to continue working on campus as a student assistant.  Why not work as a tutor? Or an orientation leader or a peer adviser? Share your wisdom with the next generation and get paid while you’re at it.  You’ll be helping students and building up references which will be valuable once you decide what it is you actually want to do.
  2. Work at a DOE National lab. Did you know that in the eyes of the National Lab you can still be considered a student assistant for up to two years after graduating. I once knew a student who decided to work for a national lab after graduating and based on this experience completely changed their career trajectory.  Case in point:  Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education “The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) provides recent graduates with challenging research opportunities to help prepare motivated students for a career in STEM while providing them with laboratory knowledge to use in pursuit of an advanced degree. Recent bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates are in a position to gain invaluable research experience in one of more than a dozen STEM-related disciplines. Apply
  3. Work for NASA! I’ve never met a STEM student who didn’t want to work at NASA.
    Did you know that NASA hires plenty of recent grads?? Apply 
  4. Do a Post Baccalaureate Program. For instance the NIH Postbac program is an excellent one.  The NIH Postbac IRTA program (CRTA, Cancer Research Training Award, in the National Cancer Institute) provides recent college graduates who are planning to apply to graduate or professional (medical/dental/pharmacy/nursing/veterinary, etc.) school an opportunity to spend one or two years performing full-time research at the NIH. Postbac IRTAs/CRTAs work side-by-side with some of the leading scientists in the world, in an environment devoted exclusively to biomedical research. The NIH consists of the 240-bed Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center and more than 1100 laboratories/research projects, located on the main campus in Bethesda, MD and in the surrounding area as well as in Baltimore and Frederick, MD; Research Triangle Park, NC; Hamilton, MT; Framingham, MA; Phoenix, AZ; and Detroit, MI.
    Deadline to Apply: January 12, 2022
  5. Thinking of Med School but you’ve already graduated?  No problem.  The Association of American Medical Colleges has a huge listing of Post Bac programs for students thinking of medical school.
  6. Want to get a PhD in Biomedical Science?  The University of Chicago’s PREP program which is designed to provide mentoring, research skills, coursework and a positive learning environment to recent post-baccalaureate students, who intend to pursue a PhD degree in biomedical science.  This program is a unique opportunity in particular for students belonging to groups underrepresented in the biomedical or behavioral sciences as defined by NIH to strengthen their applications to PhD Programs nation-wide by conducting research as laboratory technicians for one year at the University of Chicago and by participating in diverse academic activities that will prepare them to be successful graduate students.
    Deadline to Apply: March 31. 2022

  7. Work for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) EPA internships, fellowships, and recent graduate positions provide a great introduction to their work, and may lead to permanent employment. The EPA has opportunities available at their Washington D.C. headquarters, in one of their ten regional offices, and at our labs and research centers throughout the nation.
  8. Work at the Buck Institute
    The Buck Postbaccalaureate Research Program offers undergraduate students the opportunity to investigate insights into the critical molecular and biological drivers of aging as well as translation of that research into new therapies which will improve healthspan. Postbaccalaureate Researchers will conduct biomedical research to combat diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer?s, Parkinson?s, cancer, macular degeneration, heart disease, and diabetes. Under the guidance of a scientific mentor, each Postbaccalaureate Researchers will be responsible for his or her own research project. The Program emphasizes both laboratory and communication skills training to develop well-rounded future scientists, healthcare professionals, and policy makers.

    Who’s eligible: Recent graduates two years or less
    Minimum GPA 2.0
    All majors accepted but preference is given to those with prior biological or computational research experience.
  9. Work for Americorps Through three program thrusts Americorps (AmeriCorps NCCC, AmeriCorps State & National, AmeriCorps VISTA) offers participants the opportunity to use their skills to better the lives of others. Want to work on a team and travel across the US? Are you taking a gap year and you’ve always want to work with Habitat for Humanity? Do you need help with paying off federal loans? If you answered yes to any of these then Americorps might be a good fit for you. 
  10. Apply to an REU? Wait, doesn’t the U stand for Undergraduate?  Technically yes, however, there are a number of programs that are willing accept recent grads. So with that in mind go ahead and apply to one!While Hallmark may not be making as a big deal as they might if this were June we at REUFinder are ecstatic and are so happy for you.  Congratulations Grad!!!!

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