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Recent graduates: Why it’s okay to be unemployed after college

Maren Kate Donovan, CEO of ZirtualMaren Kate Donovan, CEO of Zirtual
Maren Kate Donovan, CEO of ZirtualCourtesy of Maren Kate Donovan

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: What is one piece of advice all millennials should take before entering the workforce? is written by Maren Kate Donovan, CEO of Zirtual.

Never stop learning.

Recent graduates are in a unique position; free from structure and responsibilities for the first time – at least until they find a job. This is the perfect (and maybe the only) time to set aside weeks or months to discover yourself and the world around you. Instead of immediately diving into a career, I recommend that millennials get a low-key job that affords them the ability to save up money, and then take time off to travel. It might sound crazy given the staggering amount of debt students currently graduate with, but this was hands-down the best decision I ever made.

After leaving college I didn’t jump right into the workforce. Instead, I was a bartender for six months with the goal of saving up just enough money to travel to Italy. And I did exactly that; for a month I lived abroad and fully immersed myself in the Italian culture. It was life-changing. During this time, I actually learned about outsourcing and virtual work, which ultimately led me to create Zirtual.

Never in a million years did I think a business idea would be the outcome when I was originally planning this trip. More importantly, I never thought it would not be the result. Traveling abroad is the first step, but in order to fully make the most of the experience our apprehensions, prejudices, and fears need to take a backseat.

While these feelings exist to keep us safe, I believe all young adults should welcome the unknown for at least this period of self-discovery. Whether you can travel for a few weeks or a few months, just do it. You’ll never be in this unique situation again, so make the most of it — expand your outlook of the world and never stop learning.

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