As we all inch closer to graduation, the prospect of working for corporate America becomes less and less appealing.
To help with that harrowing thought, here are eight alternatives to burnt-break-room coffee and 7 a.m. commutes:
Teach English abroad
Want to take advantage of a teacher’s schedule and spend your free time in a foreign country? Why not teach English as a foreign language? Teaching abroad is surprisingly doable with a bachelor’s degree and a 120-hour Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification. Once you complete the training specific to the country you want to travel to, you just need to find a job. While the average $300 course isn’t cheap, it takes far less time and money than getting a teaching certification in New York. To learn more about the requirements to teach in the country you’re most interested in, visit the TEFL certification’s website.
Be a nanny or caretaker
A website like aupair.com may seem like a front for human trafficking, but it’s actually an agency that conects nannies to families all over the world. If you have an interest in watching children or caring for elderly people, why not use it as an opportunity to travel the world and have all your living expenses taken care of? Qualifications are often minimal; typically all you need is a high school diploma and a fluency in English. Most families prefer English-speaking au pairs as a way to expose their children to the language at home. And depending on what au pair agency you use, some even offer cultural and language courses so you can meet other au pairs and learn more about the country you are living in.
Volunteer with AmeriCorps
If you have a passion for volunteering and want to stay stateside, AmeriCorps is the perfect organization for you. AmeriCorps connects volunteers with nonprofits across the U.S. to tackle the nation’s “most pressing challenges” by filling gaps in government social safety nets. For long-term volunteering, Americorps offers the City Year program. As the name suggests, you live in a city for 11 months while earning a living stipend in exchange for volunteer service at a local nonprofit.
Volunteer with the Peace Corps
Similar to Americorps, the Peace Corps is a U.S. government-funded volunteer network that runs programs across six continents. Once you fill out the general application, a recruiter will contact you to see which opportunity — from teaching to agriculture and commerce — and which country is right for you. The experience is rewarding because it gives volunteers an opportunity to fully immerse themselves into a particular community and culture. Service opportunities can last for just a few months to up to two years depending on the volunteer opening.
Work for an airline
Working as a flight attendant is another great travel opportunity that keeps you away from a desk job. Though some may see flying around in a pressurized tube for a living as something far worse than working in an office, flight attendants get paid to travel — and may even end up fulfilling their dreams of marrying a pilot. The job requirements are things almost every college student already has: a high school diploma and previous experience in customer service or sales.
Work as a mail carrier
I often wonder why I’m getting a four-year degree when I know I would be content with a career as a mail carrier. You get to stay active as you deliver mail on foot, and the perks — listening to a podcast, meeting some nice dogs and occasionally receiving a homemade cake during holiday season, as my mom bakes for our mailperson — are awfully rewarding. And you can do all of this while getting paid time off and health insurance, with an average starting salary of $17/hour. And that’s before the pension.
Become a park ranger
Do you want to work outside for a living while earning a government pension? Do you want to interact with nature more than people? If you answered yes to those questions, then becoming a seasonal park ranger is the way to go. This career path is perfect at keeping you on your feet and away from the doomed corporate world. The path to becoming a park ranger is straightforward if you are a U.S. citizen; all you need is a bachelor’s degree in any field with at least 24 credit hours in certain subjects like the natural sciences, history, law enforcement or social sciences and take a basic police training course. After that, you can begin applying to different parks across the country.
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)
In a world where the climate crisis is a looming threat, sustainable farming practices have never been more important. If you have an interest in sustainable food consumption and aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty, then World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is a great fit for you. For the past 50 years, the organization has been connecting volunteers with organic farmers around the world so they can participate in both a cultural and agricultural exchange as they live alongside each other. After you become a member of the WWOOF community through their website, you can begin to contact hosts in your desired region and plan your stay on your own terms. Specific requirements may vary depending on the host farmer.
Travel on a birthright visa
Several countries around the globe offer birthright travel programs that allow you to stay in a country for free if you can prove you have ancestorship. These programs are typically structured so you are paired with a host family to stay with, but some cover airfare costs as well. While Birthright Israel is arguably the most well-known program, other initiatives include Heritage Greece, ReConnect Hungary, Birthright Macedonia, Birthright Armenia and CubaOne. So get your parents on the phone and figure out if your long lost cousin’s citizenship can get you a [almost] free trip abroad.
Natalie Doller is an assistant news/features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org