Colleen Kinder is decidedly not a slacker: she’s a Yale professor, a contributor to the New York Times and New York Times Magazine, a Fulbright scholar and MacDowell Colony fellow, and a creative writer whose nonfiction has been anthologized in books published by Random House and The Kenyon Review. Kinder is also the author of Delaying the Real World: A Twentysomething’s Guide to Seeking Adventure, a book that encourages recent college graduates to do anything but jump right into the rat race upon receiving their diplomas. Sound contradictory for someone who’s clearly made it pretty far in said rat race?
Kinder’s point isn’t that idleness is good for the young adult mind, but that a great number of alternative pursuits can prove helpful to a recent college graduate who isn’t one hundred percent sure what career path to pursue. The early twenties are a time when one can take risks and explore, and that exploration will often enrich whatever career path is chosen when the time comes. It certainly did for her: Kinder, who graduated from Yale University, spent a year working with the elderly in Cuba before working on a South Florida political campaign and then heading to the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing MFA program.
Though Kinder published Delaying the Real World in 2005 — just out of undergrad herself — her message has only become more pertinent. As our world has grown more interconnected, experience working or volunteering abroad makes for a more appealing job candidate in any number of industries, and a second or third language proficiency amplifies that appeal. Midway through Cheryl Strayed’s blockbuster hit memoir Wild, about the months she spent hiking the Pacific Crest Trail alone as a grieving twenty-something, a hiker who works in HR tells her to be sure to put the experience on her resume: character counts. A decisive interviewee with passion, conviction, and experiences to spare is an exciting prospect for any headhunter.
So go ahead: put the real world off for a bit with any number of the resources below.
Delaying the Real World on Amazon
31 Travel Scholarships, Grants, and Fellowships for Students
Backdoor Jobs: Short-term job adventures
Projects Abroad: International volunteer opportunities
Work in the American parks system with Wilderness Volunteers
By Julia Cooke, Private Tutor
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