What Should I Do Between Now and Grad School?

I just graduated college and have decided to apply for a graduate program. I had a lot of family and time issues come up in the last few semesters and wasn’t able to do a quality internship, so I’m not qualified for many professional positions at the moment. I found a grad program I’m excited about, and an advisor I spoke to told me I have a good chance of being accepted, so sounds like a good idea to me.

However, the program doesn’t start until August. I don’t have constant access to a car and live in a suburb with my family that’s about a 45min drive from any interesting jobs/(unpaid) internships in the city. There’s no public transportation out here so I’m stuck most days.

How should I spend the next eight months? I could probably get a part time job in retail, but I did that in high school and hated it. And I feel like going to college and ending up back where I was before graduating high school sounds silly. Maybe, but that’s hard for me to emotionally get my mind around. I resell things on eBay and make a little money, so possibly save up and go on a short trip?

Anyway, I’m trying to figure things out. I’ll take any advice I can get!

What is your undergraduate degree in? What type of graduate program are you looking at?

I have a BS in Communication. The program was really vague and even the faulty was aware it didn’t offer many career paths. I’m looking into a masters of mass communication which is more in line if what I’m interested in.

Get some rest. Enjoy yourself while you still can.

You’re going to need it in Grad school. You’ll probably be teaching undergrad courses, research, and attending classes. It’s a busy time. You’ll find out what cramming 30 hours into a 24 hour day is like.

It will be helpful to earn some money before entering school. Take any job that you can. It’s only for a few months and you’ll appreciate having a little money later.

Get a job. Buy a car.


Or don’t.

If you won’t need, or can do without, a car while you’re in grad school, then don’t waste your money on buying and maintaining one for the few months while you’re waiting for grad school to start. Unless you absolutely have to have a car in the interim for something that’s really important to you.

Owning a car is a major, and largely unnecessary, expense for a healthy young single person with no family in a locality with adequate alternative transit options. I don’t know if that applies to the place you’re planning to attend grad school, but if it does, then saddling yourself with thousands of dollars of purchase and maintenance costs for thousands of pounds of hardware that will mostly just sit around depreciating would be a stupid move.

You could take a gap year, or a gap eight months, and hit the backpacker trail in Asia. I met lots of young people doing just that when I lived in Thailand.

He can’t get himself across town, I don’t see him going to Asia for a gap year. I think any job you can walk to is better than sitting around watching game shows. It’s probably not gonna fit in your career choice but, hey what does it really matter?

Well, you don’t drive to Asia.

So true. But he’d have to get to the airport. Buy the ticket. Be packed and have money. I don’t think any of that is in his wheelhouse. FWHS.

Pshaw. Teach English in Bangkok for a few weeks. No one cares if you’re qualified.

:confused: I don’t know the OP, but I’m not sure where you’re getting all this scorn from just because he acknowledges that living in a transit-free suburb with no reliable access to a car is limiting his mobility somewhat.

Yes, when you live in that situation it is a sometimes insurmountable challenge to “get yourself across town”, if by “across town” you mean “to the city 45 minutes’ drive away”. That doesn’t automatically imply total incapacity to handle any form of challenge or adventure.

It is frequently amazing to me how routinely car-owners disparage non-car-owners as some sort of helpless wimp merely because they’ve chosen, temporarily or permanently, to put up with the limitations of not having a vehicle constantly and immediately available, in exchange for not having to deal with the hassle and the cost of owning a vehicle.

I dont think I was putting him down for not having a car. He’s gotten himself in an untenable situation. Happens to the best of us. It can be worked around. He will have to work with what he has. Sitting on his duff for 8 mos. Is probably not gonna get him anywhere. He’s asking for ideas, mine is: get a job. Any job. It can’t hurt.

Mod Hat On

I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, but usually describing something “as not being in someone’s wheelhouse” means they don’t have the ability or capacity to accomplish something. The OP just finished college and will be going to grad school. He probably can figure out how to buy a plane ticket.

You may not have intended it, but you sound dismissive of the OP to me.

No warning issued, but try to watch the snark line.

Also, moving this to IMHO, since the OP is looking for opinions.

Now my advice- if can you afford it, travel is a great idea. I went straight from undergrad to grad school, and while it was the right choice, I did miss having the chance to just to travel around during those years. If you can make it work, it’s a great time of life to do it.

Congrats on finishing your degree!

So sorry. Did not mean to be dismissive.

The OP has a degree in communications. I’m pretty sure he can figure out how to contact an Uber or taxi to take him to the airport.

“Communications” seems to get a lot of crap as “not a real degree” (Describing your curriculum as “vague” doesn’t help). And I’m not as familiar with the specific career paths it offers compared to STEM or business related degrees, so take my advice with a grain of salt. But it seems to me that if the OP is interested in masters of mass communications, he presumably is (or should) be looking long-term at careers related to advertising, media, marketing or publishing.

What I would suggest, rather than sit around for 8 months watching TV or taking a “gap year” doing fuck-all in Asia, try and find some work related to those fields, even if it’s just temp or volunteer work. Given the OP’s mobility limitation, I think starting a web site or blog would be a good idea (in which case the travel is not such a bad idea, as you would have something to blog about).

What you kind of don’t want is to finish grad school in a few years and be in your mid 20s having never set foot in an office before.

I agree with msmith537’s advice. Travel is great if you can afford it, but it doesn’t sound like you do. And I’m not talking in terms of money. If you only have retail jobs to list on your resume, then that’s a problem. An advanced degree will help, but it’s not going to obliterate the weakness of having no field-related experience. Seems to me if you can afford to go traveling around the world, you can afford to rent a cheap room in close proximity to an office willing to pay minimum wage in exchange for some much-needed exposure and experience. Even if they only hire you for part-time work, that would be better than nothing.

I gotta ask the folks recommending world travel: If one of your adult children was in the OP’s situation, would you fund such an endeavor? Or would you expect them to pick up the tab themselves? I can’t imagine my parents eagerly funding a six-month travel excursion after already helping me obtain a “vague” undergraduate degree for four years. Is this something middle-class parents really do? It is almost like “Go travel!” has become the default advice for anyone who is momentarily aimless, regardless of whether they even want to go traveling.

Don’t think it has to be six months of travel- go for a few weeks or month if that’s all you can do. Just a great time of life when it’s possible. And yes, I’d help pay for part of my child’s opportunity to travel (and have). Travel is a worthy experience in and of itself.

The likelihood of the OP finding resume meaningful work where someone is willing to hire him knowing he’ll be gone in seven months is pretty low. I’ve tried placing students in such positions and unless it’s temp agency no one wants to hire someone, train them, then lose them.

I don’t know the field well enough to say with such certainty that not having an office job before grad school is such a resume killer. It’s just not that uncommon for students to go directly from undergrad to grad, that his resume would look so deficient, in my experience.

Getting a job is fine, of course, but there are precious few moments in life so wide open with possibility as the few months between undergrad and the start of your professional life.

How about a job in the OP’s field of study? As an undergrad I found a job in an on-campus neurophysiology lab. I did meaningful work, got published, and nearly stayed on after graduation.