Alternatives to Your Dream Job


Congratulations UW-Whitewater spring graduates! As you celebrate your achievements during various events, you are probably hearing several age-old quotes and clichés.

Graduation is a big thing, but you still may get doubts that the “the tassel is worth the hassle.” You earned a degree, but you may not be excited about your new employment or may have no job at all. Graduation can be sobering when you do not receive the outcome you expected four years ago.

Do not fear. Now is a good time to replace your worries with planning and preparation. Here are three roadblocks and four alternative career considerations as you pursue your ideal career.

Three Roadblocks After Graduation

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

  1. Graduate School: It is amazing when someone pursues a graduate program in which they are passionate, committed, and prepared. The dangers of graduate school arise when one pursues graduate school just to avoid the workforce. Do your research before attending graduate school.
  2. The Couch: In 2011, the New York Post reported that up to 85% of graduates were moving back home. Disclaimer: Living at home does not mean a free-for-all on The View and Nintendo Wii. Continue to improve and develop skills through some combination of volunteering, internships, or other form of employment.
  3. Job Search Breaks: Continue your normal job search and set-up e-mail notifications for job openings. In addition, maintain your relationship with networking contacts and find ways to meet new contacts through various means (friends, family, professional associations, LinkedIn). Even if you have a job, stay up-to-date on position openings in your field.

Four Alternative Career Considerations

“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X

  1. Duties of Interest: You may not immediately become a copy editor for HarperCollins or perform marketing for Google. For now, try to utilize the skills you love even if you are not working with the product, employer, or environment you love.
  2. Environment of Interest: Are you interested in working for the federal government? Get a job, any job, and use it to build networks and knowledge to help you move closer to your dream job with your employer.
  3. Service Programs: You may desire to build more experience or are still trying to discover fields in which you are interested. Try a service program to build experience and earn a few benefits along the way. City Year, AmeriCorps, and Milwaukee Teaching Fellows are just a few such programs.
  4. Temporary Work: If you are in the position to be flexible, staffing agencies can be a great way to build various skills. The key is to be  strategic about the types of positions you are willing to work.

Career services is here to help you develop and evaluate your job search strategies. Make an appointment at some point during the summer and we can assist you in your pursuit of your ideal career.

 “…if one advances confidently in the direction of his dream, and endeavors to live the life which he had imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
– Henry David Thoreau

Photo by Sean MacEntee.

Make A Difference Day

Last year over 4,500 UW-Whitewater students participated in volunteer service projects on-campus, in the community, and internationally. Collectively these students amassed more than 31,000 hours of service, and raised and donated in excess of $94,000 to local and national charities. UW-Whitewater students have consistently been generous with their time and talents, and have demonstrated the compassion and commitment to make a difference in our world.

What does this have to do with career development? Well, everything. Especially in more in-depth volunteer service roles, students have the opportunity to gain knowledge and practice skills that serve as valuable evidence in their job search process. During an employment interview you will be asked to give an example of a time when you worked effectively as part of a team, for example. It doesn’t matter whether or not the evidence you provide is part of a paid, work experience, or a volunteer service experience – the fact that you have evidence is what’s important to the individual conducting the interview. Collectively and individually, your service experience provides evidence of the knowledge and skill you would bring to the job.

On April  29th, UW-Whitewater and the City of Whitewater will again sponsor the annual Make-A-Difference Day. This service activity accommodates hundreds of student and community volunteers, all working together to contribute to the public good. For those students who have yet to begin their service journey, the Make-A-Difference Day event is a great introduction to the benefits of service, and I encourage both experienced volunteers and those new to service to participate in this wonderful event. Students (and faculty and staff) can register by going to their MyUWW site. Community members should go to the City of Whitewater site to register for the event.