Colleeeege. It was fun, but it was only four years. And statistically speaking you’ve still got quite a few years left to make use of. So what should you do with them? Well, first off, you should make them awesome! And that’s what this article is about, making those years directly after college awesome. You see, the world is your oyster, and the truth is too many people settle for something ordinary and safe directly after college. But ordinary and safe are simply not good metrics to use for mapping what will be some of the most formative years of your life, namely, your early twenties - and you should fill them with cool things.
I should start by saying, I’m not necessarily the king of “cool”. Like, I don’t wear a leather jacket, I actually played quidditch in college, and I’ve got more than a few quotes of Lord of the Rings memorized. However, I can safely say that, by God’s grace alone, my years after college were pretty cool. They involved hitchhiking and mountains, food and food poisoning, entrepreneurship and failing at entrepreneurship, and most of all they involved a whole lot of new faces and places that humbled me and taught me more than I ever realized I needed to learn.
My early twenties were pretty cool, and I’ve met a lot of other people that did cool things after college. This list is a compilation of mine and their experiences in the hopes that you too will go out on a limb and try some of these cool things to do after college.
This first one goes without saying. If you’re a college senior, odds are you and your friends have probably been sitting around on a worn-out couch, drinking orange juice out of a coffee mug, and as you all talk about what’s next I’d bet money at least one of you will stare dazedly off and say, “I think I’m going to do some traveling.”
Traveling is usually top on the list of cool things to do after college, but in my experience few of us actually do it. Keep in mind, I’m talking about real traveling. Not a trip to Cancun for the weekend (no offense to Cancun). But I’m talking about an integrated, knee-deep in smells, tastes, and sounds you’ve never experienced before kind of traveling. In other words, the type of traveling that requires a passport and a bit of boldness.
We usually daydream about that kind of traveling, but few of us ever make the leap to actually do it. That’s because in reality, this type of deep travel is often ingrained with discomfort and uncertainty. You might end up in a place where you don’t speak the language and have to resort to sign language butchering your way through common travel phrases. You might be ignorant of new cultural norms and how to navigate being a foreigner for the first time in your life. And while college can prepare us for a lot of things, it didn’t really prepare us for embracing discomfort and uncertainty, which is why traveling can actually be a great educator post-college.
So embrace the uncertainty, and get ready to get uncomfortable, because traveling is still one of the coolest things you can do after college.
2) Make New Friends
One thing often overlooked as something cool to do after college is to make new friends. We were likely all told going into college that the friendships we made at university would likely be the ones that we carry for the rest of our lives, and that’s still true! The friends I made during my four years at Baylor University still check up on me and send me memes at least once a week. But even these awesome friendships shouldn’t be your ONLY friends for the next 40-60 years.
The world is teeming with fascinating people and stories, and one of the coolest things you can do after college is immerse yourself in new groups of people to diversify the types of friendships and stories you get to be a part of. It might require some ingenuity and going out on a limb, but at the end of the day it’s so worth it.
I had one friend who killed it in undergrad, graduated, and set her sights on becoming a doctor. But before medical school, she took a brief hiatus and worked as a yoga instructor for a few months. Jumping into the life of a yoga instructor, even for a brief time, opened up a whole new world of people and personalities for her to invest in, and when it was all said and done, she’d made some pretty great friendships in the form of fellow instructors and clients. Eventually, med school did come calling, but she was able to go back into academic life with a new group of people for her to confide in as they cheered her on.
Making new friends after college is pretty cool, but takes some effort. This is mostly because transitioning from college to “the real world” can be a bit abrupt socially. You go from seeing and living with other college-aged students to a workplace crawling with people from all sorts of different walks in life, and the rules just tend to be quite different.
Countless people I talk to have expressed how hard it was forming deep relationships right after college. The temptation in light of this is to isolate ourselves, feign independence, and rely on social media for a semblance of connectivity. But in reality, we were created for deep, intimate friendships and this unique part of our DNA should be embraced and cultivated. Take what God expresses through the writer of Proverbs as an example, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
We were made for each other. To form, sharpen, and encourage one another.
We were made for each other. To form, sharpen, and encourage one another. This is why no matter what job or city you land in after college, making solid friends makes a huge difference.
3) Try Something Entrepreneurial
This one may feel a bit out of left field, and many of you might be saying, “David, I steered clear of the business school for a reason”, but bear with me for a minute. Your early twenties and the time right after college is actually a stellar time to try something entrepreneurial.
Now, when I say entrepreneurial I DO NOT mean trying to launch a new fortune 500 company. I barely even mean launching a lemonade stand. But what I do mean is trying something self-started that will require resources (time, money, energy) and stretch you in new ways.
The good news is, tons of things fall under this category. You could start an e-store, launch a fitness group, begin a YouTube channel, or even mobilize friends and family to support a cause. As long as it’s something that requires some self-motivation and vision, it qualifies. These also don’t have to be things you quit your day job to do, but ideally, you can work to develop these types of projects in your free time instead of bingeing Netflix or getting caught in the endless stream of scrolling.
Now, you might be asking, “What’s the big deal, why entrepreneurship?”
Well, while I firmly believe we aren’t all called to be business people, I can’t help but feel we should all have some degree of entrepreneurship flowing in our veins. The truth is, your early twenties are full of vision, passion, and energy, and now is the time to act on those storage tanks of ingenuity and begin to develop them further. Another line from the book of Proverbs says, “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23) By the time we’re out of college, we’re very trained in how to talk. We can articulate the world’s problems, business models, and theology; but really, it’s time to learn how to take talk and put it to toil. Even if it’s on a micro scale. Once you graduate, it’s time to start doing it.
Plus, you’ll also be hard pressed to find a better season in life to develop these skills timewise. Most of us in our early twenties still aren’t married or have kids, which means we have extra margin in our lives to allow for other pursuits.
Finally, an entrepreneurial spirit carries over to far more than just business. Learning to see something through from vision to reality is necessary in all facets of life, whether it’s starting a family or helping build a media ministry outreach in Spain. So taking a season to grow entrepreneurially is an investment in excelling in other areas of life down the road.
Taking a season to grow entrepreneurially is an investment in excelling in other areas of life down the road.
I got to use my twenties to begin flexing my own entrepreneurial inklings. You see, I’d nursed a love for oatmeal (yes plain ol’ breakfast oatmeal) from my late
I worked on it solely in my free time, came up with a vision, a plan, bought a cart, and showed up to street festivals in New York City ready to serve the world’s busiest corporate hedgehogs the best bowl of warm oatmeal they’d ever had in their lives. It was fun. It was beautiful. And it ultimately failed (but not because the oatmeal wasn’t on point!). But even in the failure it was still beautiful. Why?
Launching the Oatsmobile ultimately helped me experience the reward behind actualizing a vision into reality. And even though it flopped as a business, it was super successful in cultivating ingenuity, resilience, and creativity — virtues that continue to be helpful as I near the end of my twenties.
The fourth item on our list is the one that’s closest to my heart: serve.
To be frank, college is almost entirely about us. We make it that way from the moment we start submitting applications. We can’t help it, it’s just the framework we’ve been given. Getting in was about our SAT scores, we worry about which dorm we will live in, we focus on our grades, our scholarships, our clubs, and before we know it we’ve worked hard for four years growing in knowledge but have starved our capacity to invest externally.
In Philippians, Paul exhorts each one of us to “look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.” And while this verse looks good on a t-shirt, trying to put it into practice can feel like walking in lead boots when we’ve become all too used to individualism by default.
But we’re not without hope. That’s why the time after college is a great time to detox from our focus of self and start to think intentionally about what it means to serve our neighbor, community, and world. I saw tons of my friends do this after college, and I have yet to hear any of them say they regretted it.
One of my friends moved into inner-city Houston and worked for a year with a non-profit. He made close to no money, but now has a timeless understanding of what it means to be marginalized and how to minister to those suffering systemic injustices in urban centers.
Another friend of mine, who was adopted as a baby in China, graduated and then moved to Chile to do social work in an orphanage for nine months. It not only helped her get a better understanding of the brokenness and complexities of orphanages and the foster care system on a global scale, but it also helped her to further connect with and understand her own identity as an adoptee.
There’s no better time to serve radically and sacrificially than after college. My own journey took me to the Middle East to learn from and serve among Yemeni refugees fleeing the civil war that started in Yemen in 2015. The experience humbled me to a degree I often struggle to put into words, and it often helped set the posture with which I’ve approached work since.
At the end of the day, we weren’t created to live life for ourselves, and right after college is the best time to intentionally and thoughtfully start to orient your life around other people, places, and causes that are bigger than yourself. It’s definitely not the conventional route people will urge you to go, so it will take some resilience and conviction in order to see this last point through to action. But at the end of the day, it’s incredibly worth it.
At the end of the day, we weren’t created to live life for ourselves, and right after college is the best time to intentionally and thoughtfully start to orient your life around other people, places, and causes that are bigger than yourself.
5) Do All of Them At Once
What If I told you there was a way to do all four of the previously mentioned post-college cool things at once? Well, there is!
GoCorps specializes in placing recent college grads in ministry placements across the globe based on the skills and passions they developed during college. Goers apply, are placed, and then coached on how to prepare for traveling and living overseas, how to entrepreneurially raise a team of supporters to champion them along the way, and how to best serve as part of God’s global work.
The experiences you gain during a two-year Goer placement outweigh anything you could gain by just opting for the traditional route most people go after college. Instead, you’ll get to further develop skill sets and a network of similarly globally passionate friends to carry into the future even if you end up working in the US long term.
The experiences you gain during a two-year Goer placement outweigh anything you could gain by just opting for the traditional route most people go after college.
After college is still the best time to try the roads less taken and to go beyond the ordinary, and joining a Goer placement with GoCorps more than fits the bill. Ready to take the first step? Reach out to one of our coaches today! You can set up a time to have a casual conversation and learn more about what this could look like for you.