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Travel, Volunteer and Work Abroad Ideas for Recent College Graduates

Updated on August 23, 2011

Hey, recent college graduates, now what?

It was two years ago when I shook the deans hand, received my diploma and shed a tear at my college graduation. The day had finally come, but like many of you recent graduates, I was not - and still am not - able to answer the inescapable question of "what are you going to do now?" As I moved the tassel on my cap from right to left, I was excited. But as it's symbolism sunk in, so did the fear.

What will my career path be? How will I contribute to society? Do I become a sloth in my parent's basement or a corporate robot in an office cubicle? These are tough questions. But it doesn't have to be this way. For the recent graduate, there are lots of opportunities for adventure and discovery. With time travel, er, I mean, taking time to travel, work abroad, or volunteer, you can do all of this. Here are some ideas on how:


If you are a college graduate and a United States citizen, then you are eligible to join the Peacecorps. What kind of people join? People with a desire to travel, an adventurous spirit and a passion for helping others. After your two years of service in a TBD location somewhere abroad, you will receive a myriad of benefits including eligibility for free graduate school, non-competitive status on federal jobs and an awesome story to tell. Americorps is a similar, government funded program. The main difference is that your volunteer service will be done somewhere in America, and for a length of 8 to 12 months.


No, not on all fours like a dog. WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is an international organization that helps people share and teach each other about sustainable ways of living. As a volunteer, you will help out on a farm or co-op anywhere in the world, and in return, receive food, accommodation and knowledge about organic farming (i.e. viniculture in Italy or cotton-picking in New Zealand).

Teach English abroad:

Knowledge of the English language is in high demand all across the world, and if you can read this text, you are already at the top of the class. Teaching English abroad allows us native English speakers a unique opportunity to live and work nearly anywhere in the world, teaching English and getting paid for it. Depending on where you choose to go, it may be helpful to receive a certification to teach ESL beforehand.

Cruise ship:

Employment on a cruise ship is often a 6 month to a year commitment. Your eligibility for work will vary depending on your country of origin. For example, Americans have fewer options of ships to work on, while European citizens have more (more ships are built/registered in Europe than America). Of course, there are two sides to every coin. On one hand, the hours are long and you are in close living quarters. On the other hand, you are in a new city every day and working with new and interesting people from all around the world.

Don't be this guy.

Other volunteer programs:

Many volunteer programs across the world are open to just about anyone of any skill level. Do some research using the links provided and find a location and program that you can give your time to. The amount of money needed for these programs can vary from zero to thousands of dollars. Either way, devoting some of your brain and muscle power to others in need can be extremely benificial to their lives, and your own.

Other adventure jobs:

There are thousands of opportunities to work either seasonal or year-round in a job that is exciting, challenging and far away from the three walls of an office cubicle. There are countless options: why not spend a winter in the Colorado Rockies as a ski-school instructor, or a summer on the beach in Jamaica as a scuba instructor at Club Med.


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    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 5 years ago from The High Seas

      I've traveled a lot and my only regret is that I have not traveled more, seen more, discovered more and experienced more. Yet.

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 5 years ago from Northern California

      This has a lot of wonderful ideas! Thanks so much for the helpful links and resources. I've been thinking about volunteering abroad and this gives me a great start!

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 6 years ago from California

      Great post and I appreciate the links. Thanks a lot and keep it up! I'm graduating in December and the last thing I want to do is work in the "real world"... I think it's teaching English in Korea for me, and then who knows. But yes, thanks for posting!

    • profile image

      StellaSee 6 years ago

      I just stumbled upon this article, and I'm glad I did! I just checked out the website and it sounds interesting. i might try..thanks for posting :)

    • jdaviswrites profile image

      Jeff Davis 7 years ago from California

      Blue mountains guy - That is the idea here. Inspired people tend to do great things for the community and themselves...

    • profile image

      Blue Mountains Getaways Guy 7 years ago

      Nice hub J

      You have inspired another person to keep away from the standard drab of society and venture into the things and places that inspire and capture. Well done!

      max the blue mountains getaways guy

    • jdaviswrites profile image

      Jeff Davis 7 years ago from California

      thanks kev8... i believe you when you say you've learned more from those experiences than any office cubicle. a lot of people find it difficult to do what you have done. for that, you should be proud of yourself, i am. suerte a ti amigo...

    • kev8 profile image

      kev8 7 years ago

      Great article!!I am in the same boat. I graduated a couple of years ago and have been traveling, teaching and volunteering around the world. I worked in a cubicle job for a year after graduating before building up the courage to leave a steady job and do something that really interested me. Since then I have done woofing in Costa rica and worked with a volunteer organisation similar to the peace corp in Kenya and now I teach english in Spain.

      I can honestly say that I learned more from those experiences than I would have from a life time in an office cubicle and don't ever regret leaving my old office job.There are endless opportunities out there.