Moving On From College

I’ve officially graduated from RIT! So, what’s next?

I’ve spent a lot of time weighing my different options for post-graduation plans. As I’m surely not the only one who’s had issues figuring out what to do after college, I’ll break down the different options I considered on the off-chance it’ll help someone else.

Full-time Work

Fairly obvious pros/cons. Stable pay, consistent hours, etc.

Grad School

The first option other I seriously considered was getting a master’s degree, for the following reasons:

  • You’re only in school once, so why not take advantage of it while you can?
  • It would give two years of working on cool projects and research
  • It would allow staying closer to family for a bit (I went to college around an hour’s drive away from home)

As my primary incentives were just working on interesting projects and staying with friends, the structure of a graduate program wasn’t really necessary. If I were looking to work in academia or had some other explicit need for a master’s degree, it would be a solid choice, but in my case I don’t feel it would be the right call.

Freelance Work

Part of the beauty of programming is that all you need is a computer. With a stable internet connection, it’s easily possible to work remotely.

Pros:

  • Flexible hours
  • Regularly rotating work (can help prevent boredom/burnout)
  • Some choice in what projects you take on
  • Job security. You’re used to fluctuating pay schedules, and you don’t have to worry about being laid off suddenly.

Cons:

  • You’ll rarely work in groups. Even though I enjoy working alone, group environments can help shore up your weaknesses, give you people to bounce ideas off of, etc.
  • Less-stable pay schedule. Your pay will fluctuate from contract to contract, and payment can take several weeks after the contract is actually finished.
  • You’ll get taxed as both a business and an individual
  • No benefits (medical insurance, dental, paid vacation, etc)
  • Unpaid while looking for work and while negotiating contracts

Due to those last three bullets, freelance wages seem higher than they really are. As an estimate, take what your yearly salary would be, and divide it by 1000. So, the equivalent of working for $80,000/yr would be working for $80/hr as a freelancer.

Start a business

Perhaps the most ambitious, but also most difficult option, this is what I finally decided on. I’ll write up more on this as it develops! But, for the practical reasons why I’m shooting for this now:

  • I’m still used to living like a student, so lower income isn’t an issue
  • I don’t have that many expenses:
    • I’m still under my parents’ medical insurance
    • I don’t own a car
    • I don’t have children or other dependents
  • My student loans don’t enter repayment for 6 months after graduating
  • I still have friends in college, so it won’t be hard to find roommates at a similar quality of living

I considered working full-time for a year or two and saving up/paying off my student loans before attempting a business, but the above points are great reasons to go for it now rather than later.

Plus, what’ve I got to lose?

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