Don't Compete. Create.
some alternatives to the 9-to-5
"With luck, you take some chances, you do something that wasn't in the plans for you. Who knows? It could be a waste of time, but it could be something you'll always remember. For me, it totally shifted the direction of my life."
- Ted Conover, author of Rolling Nowhere
When Will Wadman was still a sophomore in college, he and a friend opened a clandestine restaurant in their dorm suite, serving up gourmet specialties on Saturday nights by reservation only.
After their junior year, they further honed their entrepreneurial skills by creating and running a summer arts school for teenagers, which is still in operation on the campus of Deerfield Academy in western Massachusetts. Seeking another brand of adventure after graduation, Will shipped his motorcycle to Europe and spent several months tooling around the continent and having the time of his life.
Perhaps Will had been inspired by musician and songwriter Joel Weldon, who once wrote, "Don't compete. Create. Find out what everyone else is doing and then don't do it."
As graduation approaches, it may seem that everyone else from Boston College is doing one of three things - going to graduate school, taking a job in the business world, or volunteering full-time. If the prospect of doing "what everyone else is doing" is beginning to look like a death sentence to you, then it's never too late (if you're graduating) or too early (if you're not) to think about some alternatives.
If you're looking for the inspiration to pursue something out of the ordinary, consider the words of Ted Conover, who took time off from Amherst College to ride freights trains in the company of hobos and eventually wrote Rolling Nowhere about his experiences: "I think that one of the greatest things about the extended adolescence in this country is that, with luck, you can take some chances, you can do something that wasn't in the plans for you. Who knows? It could be a waste of time, but it could be something you'll always remember. For me, it totally shifted the direction of my life."
What follows are a few suggestions that may inspire you to find the right challenge, one that will suit your values rather than forcing you to value suits.
HAVE AN ARTISTIC EXPERIENCE
- The Spoleto Festival USA (SC) produces over 120 performing arts events in 17 days, playing to an international audience of more than 75,000 in sites throughout historic Charleston, South Carolina.
- The Women's Studio Workshop (NY) is a New York City artists' space founded and run by women to serve as a supportive working environment for all persons interested in printmaking, papermaking, book arts and photography.
- Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, in the Berkshire Hills (MA), brings together companies and students from across the U.S. and around the world to create ten weeks of dance performances. All three organizations need motivated workers, and all provide housing and a stipend.
Other sources of artistic adventures:
- Careers in the Arts
The BC Career Center's page, filled with career ideas and opportunities in Art History and Art Administration, Visual Arts, and the Performing Arts.
HAVE A WILDERNESS EXPERIENCE
- Live in the White Mountains of New Hampshire working as a backcountry ranger or trail crew member with the Appalachian Mountain Club. (MA, ME, NH, NJ)
- Help at-risk teens start to turn their lives around through Eckerd Family Youth Alternatives. (GA to ME)
- Or maybe you'd prefer a different sort of challenge, like hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, a six-month, 2160-mile trip from Georgia to Maine. (FL, GA, NC, NH, RI, TN, VT)
Other sources of wilderness adventures:
HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE
Though the chances that you'll start your first professional career in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower are pretty slim, you can still find some interesting alternative opportunities abroad.
- Emperor Divers can put you to work as a diving instructor in the Red Sea, along the Egyptian coast.
- France Montgolfieres can employ you as part of their ground crew for scenic balloon flights over the Burgundy and Loire Valley regions.
- And you can support yourself in the "land down under" by living and working on an organic farm in South Australia (International Agricultural Exchange Association and Willing Workers on Organic Farms).
Other sources of international adventures:
HAVE AN ENTREPRENEURIAL EXPERIENCE
Tom First and Tom Scott were still in their early twenties when they started selling Nantucket Nectars. "When we graduated from Brown," they say on their Web site, "we knew we did not want to live the jacket and tie life of the corporate world. Instead, we moved to Nantucket determined to make it on our own." Their first business venture saw them motoring through Nantucket Harbor, delivering newspapers, coffee, laundry and other necessities to visiting yachts. Ten years later, they run an international juice business that employs over 100 workers.
Sources of entrepreneurial adventures:
HAVE A LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE
For those with a commitment to social change, some of the most intriguing work opportunities are provided through professional programs such as the Coro Fellows, and the New York City Urban Fellows. Participants in these respected programs gain practical work experience in the realm of public policy, take part in seminars, conferences and events, and have the opportunity to make a direct impact on issues such as hunger, homelessness and the environment.
Other sources of leadership adventures:
- Professional Work Fellowships
The BC Career Center's compilation of unique post-graduation work opportunities.
HAVE A GEOGRAPHIC EXPERIENCE
Want to get away from it all? Want to see what it's like to live on a tropical island? Or are you a writer who'd simply like some solitude? Consider some of these resources:
- The Caretaker Gazette lists house-sitting property caretaking opportunities throughout the U.S. and beyond. You can enjoy rent-free living as a property caretaker in desirable locations. Estates, mansions, farms, ranches, resort homes, retreat centers, camps, hunting and fishing lodges, vacation homes, private islands, and any other kind of property imaginable. While we can't post the listings or give you a password, we suggest that you go to Caretaker Gazette so you can see Samples Listings that THE CARETAKER GAZETTE has been publishing since 1983. If you have any questions about the CARETAKER GAZETTE, contact the Career Center Resource Library.
- Create Your Own Path is the brainchild of BC alum Catherine Cannon-Francis. She and her husband are embarking on an 8 month journey around the world. You can follow their journey at Create Your Own Path.
- The Women's Travel Club was founded in 1934 to promote intelligent travel and exploration by women. They offer biennial travel scholarships to 2 women for whom travel is critical to their professional goals. Read more about the opportunity here.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE
When an opportunity is described as "volunteer", this does not necessarily mean that you will be expected to cover all your expenses. Many volunteer positions offer room and board (and possibly a small stipend) in exchange for your services.