As a college student, a job after graduation is like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This is especially true if you have student loan debts that you need to begin servicing soon after graduation. But though few college students think about self-employment after graduation, it can actually be a better long-term strategy than a job.
Why should new college graduates consider self-employment?
There May Not be a Job Waiting after Graduation
Hiring of new college graduates has become highly even. Much has to do with your major - certain ones are in demand, while others are in oversupply. It is no longer unusual for students to graduate college with no job waiting in the wings.
The underemployment rate among recent college grads is in the neighborhood of 46%. (Underemployment generally includes those who are unemployed, working part-time jobs but looking for full-time, or working in jobs that don't require a college degree.) Though underemployment is closely associated with the last recession, in fact it has been growing ever since 2003.
As a college student or a recent college grad, you have to consider the possibility that a career type position may not be available in your major field of study. Your best alternative may be to create your own job by starting your own business. At a minimum, you'll be out in the business world, making contacts and finding out how things work. That can lead to all kinds of possibilities.
Jobs Are No Longer as Stable as They Once Were
Even if you do find a solid job opportunity shortly after graduation, employment has become notoriously unreliable. Globalization, automation, and economic swings can result in either a temporary or permanent loss of a job. If the job loss occurs during an economic downturn, it can be many months before you replace it.
If you have your own business, your income may rise and fall, but is unlikely to disappear completely. Even if it does decline in a recession, you can supplement your income from other sources until you can put your business back on a growth path.
Tapping Into Your Own Creativity
People often wonder what kind of business to start? You can answer that question with two other questions:
- What am I good at? - and,
- What do I like to do?
There is an excellent chance that you will find the best business opportunities somewhere in between the answers to those two questions.
There are a couple of bonus factors in answering those questions too. If you really like a certain kind of work, doing it as a business won't even feel like work much of the time. But just as important, the answers to those questions could give you a running start on a business coming right out of college.
Inventory all of the skills you have - including hobbies - and see if there may be a money-making idea or two somewhere in the mix. This can include social media skills, graphic arts, making videos, web design, computer trouble-shooting, mechanical skills, cooking, selling, organizing, public speaking, promoting and just about any skill you can think of.
You can start a business simply by converting what it is you like to do into a paid venture.
Creating Upward Mobility
An increasing number of jobs no longer offer a career path. You can spend many years sitting in the same position that you started in. In any career field, organization, or department, there are only so many promotional opportunities available. A small number of people get those promotions, but most won't. Flatter organizational structures simply don't offer as many promotional opportunities.
But when you're self-employed, you can rise as high as your time, talent, and efforts will allow you to go. In a real way, self-employment offers greater career mobility than most jobs do. This will also help to keep you more engaged with your career as the years pass.
Creating a More Flexible Lifestyle
Younger workers are increasingly demanding more flexible work schedules, that include flexible hours, work at home, and greater control over their workflow. Though it makes for interesting web articles and TV news spots, most employers frown on such arrangements, since they may not fit neatly within company objectives.
Being self-employed offers the opportunity to have complete control over your work life, which can give you a more flexible lifestyle. It's not that you work less than you would have to in a job - ironically, self-employment usually involves more hours on the job - but rather that you have greater control over how, when, and where you work.
That will allow you to create a more balanced lifestyle, even if you're working more hours.
If you're a recent college graduate, or looking to graduate soon, don't dismiss the possibility of becoming self-employed. It just may be the best career opportunity available.