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March 10, 2009


If you've been reading this book with a steadily increasing heart rate, a mountingsense of panic, and more sweat on your palms than on the backs of the workers who builtthe pyramids, you are not alone. Maybe most of the jobs listed here are just not for you.Perhaps you don't think you can deal with putting on a suit or pantyhose every day, don'twant to worry about promotions or corporate culture, and can't deal with the thought ofnine to five, five days a week, fifty weeks a year. You're in the process of making atough, unpopular, and, hopefully, rewarding choice.
The following are some ideas from people who chose not to get a "regular job."Whether you've always dreamed of writing the great American novel, of teaching theprincipals of sanitation or algebra to children in Somalia, or just aren't ready for theresponsibility of adult life, there should be some help here for you. By the way, don'tworry so much, you aren't the only person in the world who will still be eating Ramennoodles for dinner with a $100,000 education at the age of forty ? you'll just be theonly one who chose to be doing so.

  • Make a list. This sounds like something your mother would tell you to do, but in this case, she's right (she was right about eating pixie sticks for breakfast, too ?they don't help your concentration, after all). Make a list of all of the fabulous thingsyou've ever wanted to do. Include everything from "swim with dolphins" to"be CEO of my own software company."

  • Think about finances. After the high of making your wish list, this should bring you back down to earth. Do you have student loans? If so, how much, and how long do you have before you default? Is there any way that your parents, or another family member, can pick them up for a while, and then you can pay them back later?
    Health insurance is another big issue. If you've been covered either through youruniversity, an employer, or your parents, you may be eligible for a program called COBRA.COBRA is an extension of your health care, which can last for as little as a month or aslong as three years.

    Finally, in the finance sweepstakes, do a careful tally of how much money you have, how much you can make before graduation, and how much you have tomake to do the various things on your wish list. Can you move home for a while, and if youdo how much money will you be able to save?

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  • Do your research. Believe it or not, your college career center doesn't only have information about consulting jobs. It should also have books on alternative options ?both ones that pay you and ones you pay for. Go on the Web to find out more aboutinteresting programs. Or you could even look stuff up at the library (if, after four yearsof school, you still haven't visited this building, you are in trouble). This is the bestplace to learn about the federal programs such as the Peace Corps, or Teach America, aswell as teaching English in other countries, or graduate school programs.

  • Evaluate your skills. Are you really, really good at something? Are you acomputer whiz, or an accomplished musician, or a great field hockey player? The world isfull of gifted people in their twenties, giving lessons while waiting for their big break.Kids always need music lessons, tutoring, coaching. Adults have to learn the latestgraphic design program, or how to improve their


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