Alternative Options for After Graduation: Volunteer Work and Self-Employment

If you are still conducting a job search for a full-time or permanent position post-graduation, there are many options to help you maintain daily structure, stay motivated and keep you connected to the world of work. This blog will cover some short-term experiences including volunteer work and self-employment.

Sometimes it may feel overwhelming to know where to begin, so we have compiled some resources to get you started.

Volunteer Work: A volunteer is a person who serves in a specified function of their own free will without the promise of getting paid. Many of you have probably volunteered and/or done community service in high school, college or during summer breaks. If you are looking to work in a non-profit or non-government organization, volunteering in an organization that interests you is another way to gain valuable experience while seeking permanent employment. In addition to places you may have served as a volunteer, i.e. hospitals, schools, etc., below is a link to thousands of other non-profit and non-government organizations:

Idealist and Boston Cares are great sites to search for organizations that have volunteer positions, internships and paid jobs. 


If you are self-employed you are either providing a service or selling a product. A selfemployed individual does not work for a specific employer who pays them a consistent salary or wage. If you are self-employed, you can determine your own hours and pay rate. Since you are at the beginning stages of your career, self-employment may include jobs like tutoring, dog-walking, child care, doing ‘quickie’ jobs, or selling a hand-made product.

Make sure you are using social media to promote your product or service effectively. Follow people in the field to see what they are doing and cultivate a community of your customers. You may want to check out the U.S. Small Business Administration for additional ideas and information.

With either volunteer work or self-employment, what you make of it is up to you. If you are at an employment site as a volunteer, this is an easy way to make connections to people who can refer you to permanent employment. You will gain inside knowledge of the organization and may discover jobs that are not yet advertised. You may also explore career options that weren’t already on your radar.

If you are self-employed, you will gain skills in marketing, money and time management, and self-reliance.

In either case, you’ll probably be more relaxed about not having landed that permanent job yet!

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