Seth Godin, marketing author, has an extraordinary following. He has a great ability to present common ideas in ways that are unusually clear and compelling. Sometimes, he offers career advice, such as with the item below: 

Graduate School for Unemployed College Graduates

Fewer college grads have jobs than at any other time in recent memory—a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers annual student survey said that 20 percent of 2009 college graduates who applied for a job actually have one.  So, what should the unfortunate 80% do?

How about a post-graduate year doing some combination of the following (not just one, how about all):

  • Spend twenty hours a week running a project for a non-profit.
  • Teach yourself Java, HTML, Flash, PHP and SQL. Not a little, but mastery. [Clarification: I know you can’t become a master programmer of all these in a year. I used the word mastery to distinguish it from ‘familiarity’ which is what you get from one of those Dummies type books. I would hope you could write code that solves problems, works and is reasonably clear, not that you can program well enough to work for Joel Spolsky. Sorry if I ruffled feathers.]
  • Volunteer to coach or assistant coach a kids sports team.
  • Start, run and grow an online community.
  • Give a speech a week to local organizations.
  • Write a regular newsletter or blog about an industry you care about.
  • Learn a foreign language fluently.
  • Write three detailed business plans for projects in the industry you care about.
  • Self-publish a book.
  • Run a marathon.

Beats law school.

If you wake up every morning at 6, give up TV and treat this list like a job, you’ll have no trouble accomplishing everything on it. Everything! When you do, what happens to your job prospects?

3 Comments

  1. Very good advice – my daughter, a recent college graduate is balancing part-time work with volunteering. However, she is also busy applying for graduate school. It seems to me that a graduate/professional degree does offer greater opportunities.

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  2. Not just college grads, but also unemployed adults through restructurings, layoffs and “retirements”. Particularly those with substantial work history and passion to give and be involved. And have the ability to redefine what “job” and “service” mean. I was happy to see several “jobs” in the list, the need for “how to” people to help jumpstart action, and the need for brokering of people, time and opportunities. Yes, the alarm went off at 6.

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  3. Thank you for your refreshing outlook and advice which is both practical and motivational.
    The specific examples are indeed what graduates/clients need and like and I could do with learning some of the skills listed!).

    For quite some time (including at a conference yesterday – 15 July 09), I have heard colleagues refer to in addition to the problems in the job market, students don’t plan ahead effectively, students don’t engage, students need to be flexible, students look for the easiest route…
    To which some of my responses are:
    – how flexible are we to THEIR needs and preferences? (if some don’t want to plan their career until they graduate – what are we offering when they ARE ready?)
    – why is the balance still towards us trying to get them to suit our systems.
    Your comments I think, bring into focus the potentially vital role of university careers services.

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