I just graduated with a degree in Psychology. I have some ideas about what I want to do, but nothing concrete. Money isn't a huge factor because I live at home and I work part-time at a restaurant. Can I coast for awhile? How much time until I have to get a job or it will look bad?

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last year

The moment when you drop down on your knees with a monumental realization that you want to be an engineer, a marketer, a doctor, a you-name-it...isn't coming. Don't worry about picking a career path or determining a "what you want to do" with your life. If you don't know now, thinking about it isn't going to help you come to that realization. Simply doing will help you arrive at a sense of what you want and don't want.

Here's why I recommend you start now. It's not about how waiting will look to your future employer. You need to start now because by posing this question to the universe you've admitted that you have a decision that you need to make - and that decision can be made now or later - but you're only delaying making it by "coasting". Why not free yourself of the mental anguish that not taking action brings about?

Here are some thoughts on where to start:

1) Forget passion - follow your curiosity instead. Author Liz Gilbert talks a bunch about this in her book on creativity called Big Magic. We've heard since childhood to follow our passion, but not everyone is passionate about something. Not passionate about - anything?! That's freakin' okay! Gilbert argues it's pretty messed up career and creative advice to be told to "follow our passion," and I couldn't agree more. She argues replace "passion" with "curiosity", and get to following the breadcrumbs :-) No doubt you're curious about some things more than others. Try writing out all of the things that you'd like to know more about. Think back on your life in the last year - what piqued your interest? What could you stand knowing more about? A quick examination of what makes you feel something should provide some clues on where to point your arrow with your job search.

2) Now's the time to learn, not earn. Once you've nailed down some potential industries of interest or roles of interest based on your curiosities, look for entry-level roles and internships that will provide you with the greatest opportunity to learn - from the team, from the work, from the company. Now isn't the time to prioritize what you earn over what you can learn -- if you pick a role based on what you can earn alone and thwart following curiosities, you're likely going to want out pretty quick. If you can find a job with a high ceiling for learning AND earning, well, that's wonderful!

3) Your first job won't be your last, so just pick one. Your future employer knows that as a new grad, you will likely only invest 1-2 years in the company before moving to your next. So don't worry about needing to think "long-term" with your first job or you'll add more burden to the decision-making process than it requires. So pick a role and don't worry if you end up making a "bad choice". There really isn’t a bad choice if you're learning and gaining a better understanding of what you want and don’t want.

The longer you wait, the longer you're just standing in your own way. Good luck out there!

last year

+1. This reply is gold, and there's so many good things touched upon. The biggest thing for me is:

There really isn’t a bad choice if you're learning and gaining a better understanding of what you want and don’t want.

If you coast today, you're only pushing your potential to learn further out, which will make you less competitive the longer you coast. There are definitely merits to traveling and being a student of the world, but the only way to gain meaningful career experience and discover what it is that makes you happy is to find an opportunity where you can learn a ton. Even if you learn that this particular role or field isn't interesting to you, that's still a learning moment and will propel you to your next opportunity.

Best of luck!

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