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You’re Officially a College Graduate … Now What? - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Now that you’ve graduated college, big life changes are right around the corner. Perhaps your friends are taking internships, accepting jobs or choosing what grad school to attend. But do you know which route to take yourself?

Although there isn’t a universal answer to the question of what to do next, we put together some guidelines that may help you with this big life decision.


  • You have no prior internship experience
  • You can’t decide on which industry to work in
  • The company you’re interested in has no full-time positions open

In recent years, internships have been given quite the facelift. Many employers now look at internships as an entry-level position rather than a way to get someone to get them a cup of coffee.

According to BusinessInsider.com, as an intern you can expect to see pay around $15 to $19 per hour. Along with competitive pay, many companies have started offering their interns full benefits packages.

Although you may be able to get a higher paying job in a different field, don’t lose sight of your goals and passion.

“Students should try to get a job that is related in some way to the area they are interested in,” said Kellie Berger, the assistant director for career planning at Adrian College. “It may not be the exact position they are hoping to get, but it will at least be in an area that may help them get to where they want to go.”

If you’re unsure of what industry you want to work in, an internship could be a great way to take a trial run. You can learn the ins and outs of the industry and, by the end, decide whether or not it’s where you want to pursue a career.

Another reason to consider an internship is the possibility it could lead to a full-time offer. It’s becoming increasingly common for companies to offer a post-grad rotational internship program. This type of internship trains you in many different areas of the company with the mindset that at the end of this period, you will have found the part of the company where you fit in best for a full-time role.

Graduate School

  • You know exactly what you want to study and how it will affect your career
  • You need a master’s degree to move up the ladder in your field
  • You’re interested in becoming an expert in your field

The question is not whether graduate school will benefit you but whether you can fully dedicate yourself to it.

Graduate school will be a more competitive environment than what you went through as an undergraduate. In addition, the average annual cost of graduate school tuition can range from $30,000 to $40,000, depending on your program, according to Peterson’s.

However, a person with a master’s degree typically earns $400,000 more in a lifetime than someone who only holds a bachelor’s degree, so it can pay off financially.

If you do choose to attend grad school, make sure you know exactly what you want to study. You want to enjoy the topics you will learn about, but make sure they’ll also benefit your career. This is not the time to be flip-flopping between degrees.

Obtaining a graduate degree is a good way to set yourself apart now that bachelor’s degrees are so common. Many high-level positions now require further education, so don’t be surprised when you see that a master’s degree is a requirement for a promotion.

But maybe you want to become an expert in your field and dedicate your career to research, rather than moving your way up in a business.

In graduate school, you will be surrounded by some of the brightest minds in your field, including professors who have dedicated their lives to the study of your chosen area of interest. This environment will introduce you to new ideas, concepts and viewpoints that you may not have been exposed to otherwise.

First Job

  • You have prior experience (an internship, etc.) in the field you want to pursue
  • You have job offers that could pay for you to attend graduate school later on
  • You are simply ready to get your professional life started

One of the main reasons millions of students go to college every year is to gain the proper knowledge, experience and training to obtain a job after graduation.

You’ve worked hard to get this point, and you want to start your career.

If you’re ready to take all of this new knowledge and use it in the workplace to start making money rather than going further in debt, then starting your first job is a good option for you.

If you’ve completed any internships, they may have allowed you to get a feel for the industry, grow your professional network and gain firsthand work experience. Ideally, this will have opened doors for you to get interviews with the companies you’re interested in.

Starting your first job does not mean that you can’t go back to school later on. A lot of companies will pay for you to return to school. They know the value of a graduate degree and are willing to help you obtain one.

Moving Forward

Ultimately, this decision is going to come down to what you want to do next and what works best for you. What you can do to make it easier is to take advantage of all the resources available to you, such as your undergraduate school’s career planning office.

Terri LaMarco, a senior associate director at the University of Michigan Career Center, believes the best thing a student can do is “schedule an appointment with a career counselor at their school so they can talk through their goals, options, pros and cons of each path, resources that can be helpful, and finally, how to go about implementing those choices.”

To learn more about internships and full-time positions at Quicken Loans, visit the Intern Alley section of the Zing blog and QuickenLoansCareers.com.

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