April 7, 2011 | Suzanne Shaffer | Leave a comment It won’t be long now. Colleges across the country are gearing up for commencement exercises and seniors are looking toward graduation. It used to be that most college graduates secured employment before graduation. But the “times they are a changin'”. The competitive job market, struggling economy, and unemployment rates have forced graduates to think outside the box and explore other options after graduation. Thinking outside the box requires some creative thinking and exploring some options other than full-time gainful employment. The key is to work toward that final goal, but leverage the opportunities that are available now toward that eventual outcome. Work at an internship It’s no secret that internships provide amazing opportunities for those looking for employment. You can search for them online at various job sites, at company websites, or you can use social media as a tool to locate them. Try using LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter by doing searches for internships related to your career interests. The optimal goal is to secure a paid internship, but if you aren’t able to, consider working at one without pay. The goal: making connections that will land you a position with the company once they have a chance to see your work ethic, your job skills, and the assets you could bring to the table once you become a permanent hire. Go to graduate school Many students opt to continue their education after graduation by pursing a graduate degree in their chosen career field. Student loans are available for a graduate education, but it’s prudent to be cautious about borrowing. The best advice is to only borrow what you need for the education itself. If you borrow for living expenses, you will be saddling yourself with a tremendous amount of debt and might not be able to pay it back once you enter the work force. Â If you are interested in discovering how much you can expect to earn once your graduate degree is completed, you can find that data at Payscale.com. This information will help you determine if the long-term benefits of the degree outweigh the costs based on your expected salary increase. Work or intern abroad Another creative path to take after graduation would be to pack your bags and work or intern abroad. There are numerous opportunities abroad for recent college graduates, giving you the chance to travel and gain some valued global experiences. Companies see these experiences as a plus on any resume. You can intern for the summer with Intrax: An internship abroad is the perfect chance to experience life abroad while furthering your career. Intrax Internships Abroad offers 8-week summer internships in 8 major economic centers around the world: London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, Madrid, Tokyo, Beijing, and Santiago. Every Intrax internship program includes the internship placement, central housing in the city, weekend and day trips to nearby sites, career and rÃ©sumÃ© coaching, along with insurance, on-call support, and orientations. Interviews have already begun for our top internships; make sure to apply before April 15th to secure your spot! Or you take the plunge and work abroad at a full time position. Many graduates opt to teach English in various foreign countries while getting paid and having living accommodations furnished. This choice is a win-win option: you get a chance to travel and explore the world while adding to your resume and job experience. Start a business If you can’t find a job, why not consider starting your own business and join other graduate entrepreneurs? Online tools and social media sites make it simpler than it’s ever been to start a virtual global business. You don’t need office space. You don’t need employees. You don’t even need a web designer. Starting with a business idea, you can set up a blog, create a Facebook fan page, set up a Twitter account and a YouTube channel. There are unlimited tutorials available and free webinars to coach you through the process. It takes some drive and commitment, but there is a vast array of untapped niche markets out there waiting for the right idea of products or services. If you’re not ready to enter the real world, or you’re finding it hard to snag that dream job, consider thinking outside the box and leveraging some of these other opportunities after graduation. Get free information on Entrepreneurship and starting your own business.