So What If You Don't Go Straight to Work?

The Dilemma of Stepping Off the Career Track

By Published on .

Alex KniessAlex Kniess
Either by choice or by necessity, many of my fellow soon-to-be-grads are considering alternatives to jumping headfirst into the advertising world. As the broken record will tell you again and again, the economy is forcing recent grads and grads-to-be to take a hard look at their career prospects -- especially within the communications industries.

However, many more are looking at the wanted ads and flipping through their digital Rolodexes, asking themselves if starting a career right away is really the right thing to do. I've written before on the value of being interesting in order to be noticed. So then, how interesting is it to start a career right out of college? It seems to me to be the most obvious choice, and frankly, there are many more things in the world that sound more interesting.

As I continue to do some deep soul-searching over my holiday break (remember those?), I am seriously considering these questions. Do I really want to work a typical starting agency job right out of school? Won't I be working for the rest of my life? What's another few months? Or a year?

I could travel, explore, bum off my parents, become a waiter or a tour guide. There are a thousand interesting things that I could be doing at this very ripe age. Gas prices are starting to get low enough; maybe I should take a road trip.

But what happens to all of my experience, my internships, my connections, my resume? Do they become stale without constant coddling? This is a significant issue. After all, I have spent my most recent life carefully navigating the ladder through clubs, jobs and experiences. All of it has been a step that puts that 'something better' within easier reach. The last thing I would want to do is fall from the ladder.

Or is it? After all, interesting people get interesting jobs and the most interesting people probably haven't followed a traditional path. So for the many lost souls like myself who are seeing the world from a perspective unique to those entering their last summer ever, these questions have real weight, and potentially real consequences. What do you think, does a month, a summer, or a year off make your experiences worthless? Or does it enrich them?