We live in a world where a job (in the traditional sense) isn’t necessary to make money.
The minute I understood this, my life was forever changed.
Jobs are great: they give you experience, opportunities, contact with people and a good learning foundation. This is especially helpful for recent university graduates; jobs get us started in the real world, we start taking on responsibilities and our life suddenly seems to have a bit more structure and purpose to it.
So yes, jobs are great when they’re fulfilling and enjoyable.
The problems start when the job becomes a drag: the thought of work depresses you, your mood darkens, you sigh and complain. Even as young adults we’ve experienced this: working part-time at a fast food restaurant/bar/supermarket isn’t the most exciting thing in the world.
So I am a big supporter of checking out other options before getting a traditional job (or never getting one). The options really do depend on each person, so why not try one out? Not only will this earn you a different set of skills useful for a future job, but you’ll also get to experience something unconventional and new. Pretty cool for someone graduating from university.
Here are some possible alternatives to a job (from least to most risky):
Instead of jumping straight into the workforce, why not try offering your services directly to clients? It could have something to do with your degree or not, it’s up to you. Self-employment and freelancing range from online tutoring, to building websites to Ubering around. The most important is to know how to hustle and have some discipline: the money comes in only when you’re working.
Self-employment doesn’t work for everyone but it does have some pretty sweet benefits. You get to set your own hours, you can choose who to work with (maybe not always, but still) and if it’s online you get to work from anywhere!
2. Build an online business
It’s amazing: starting a business has never been easier. How? With the beautiful internet. 50 years ago you needed funding, permissions and experience. Now all you need is a wifi connection, a tiny bit of money, some hustle – and you’re done. The hardest part is the hustle: willingness to learn and not giving up. As with any business, online businesses require discipline, consistency and a goal. It’s just a little easier to get started when it’s online.
Don’t have an online business idea? No worries, here are two great ones for you:
- Selling digital products
- Selling on Etsy
- Online products range from online courses, to selling an e-book, to selling a software or plugins. Even if you feel you can’t teach much online, it’s more about how you teach it rather than the content itself. For this reason, you can simply learn about a certain activity yourself and then try to teach it to others through a video course. You can sell your courses on places like Udemy and Skillshare, and other online products on websites like Shopify or Wix.
- Etsy is a shop that allows you to sell digital products online, and can a very sweet source of passive income. The key is to sell a product that can sell and meets high demand. You also want to be selling a product that isn’t high maintenance. You may need some design or photography skills, but no need to go pro. Start off using the online version of Adobe Photoshop for $10 a month or even other software such as Canva and Snappa. And get some nice fonts!
Other options include Youtuber, podcaster and other forms of content production. They all require some kind of initial effort without guaranteed return (like all businesses). Not for everyone, but another cool alternative to the 9-5.
3. Travel volunteering
Don’t want a job but want to travel? You still have options. Volunteering in general is another way to live without a job.
You could either DIY it: pay for the plane ticket and see where life gets you. People have done crazy things: travel the world on a bike, camp for weeks, volunteer in exchange for accommodation and food, you name it. It’s proper ‘Into the Wild’ kind of stuff. Maybe a bit extreme, but hey I’m just laying out options.
A safer and more viable option is doing travel volunteering through agencies such as STA Travel or Projects Abroad. You basically volunteer abroad and get housing and food in exchange. It’s all monitored and it’s mostly programs for gap year students. Pretty fun.
If you feel you’re particularly good at creating something, why not sell it? This could be writing a book, producing music, creating art, etc. Create something, market it and sell. Once again, you’ll have to put up an initial effort with no guaranteed return, but if you get it working it could be pretty fun. Eventually you could even turn it into a proper business (but hey, only if you want to).
People who have done this are Veronica Roth (author of Divergent series) and Bret Easton (author of American Psycho). And there are tons of students who sell their art on DevianArt or promote music on Soundcloud. Turn that hobby into a money-making machine.
It’s not that risky (unless you’re actually sent off to war), it’s just not an option people really think of. But it’s worth mentioning.
Maybe a year or two in the army could help you figure out what kind of job you want or what you want to do next. You may find that you want to go back to uni and study something else, or that you really like the military and want to stay. Those years in the middle will help you gain discipline and even motivation to work on what you want to do.
You’ll be earning about the same than if you were at an entry level job, plus you’ll get some good benefits by not having to pay utility bills, healthcare, etc.
Find out more info on the Army and think of your options.
6. Investing/Property investing
There’s a difference between investing for your retirement and for your future, and investing as a full time money generator. Full time could mean being a day trader or a serial property investor.
You’ll need experience and some money to get started and succeed- but it’s still an option. If you have enough for a house deposit and calculate a good cashflow, that could be enough to get started on the property market. If you’re interested in the stock market then educate yourself and test it out – but remember that over 90% of day traders lose money… it’s some risky stuff.
Once again, not for everyone, but for those who like to live on the edge and don’t mind the possibility of going broke at 23, it could be an option.
What’s pretty cool about all these alternative job options listed above is that you don’t have to restrict yourself to only doing one. How about becoming a self-employed proofreader and doing some blogging on the side? Or starting a drop-shipping business and experimenting with investing? Or even getting a traditional job and just treating these as ‘side-hustles’. It’s amazing the amount of flexibility we can achieve nowadays.
The main reason I included the more unusual alternatives on the list is to show you that you really don’t have to go down the traditional path and get a normal desk job if you don’t want to. No one is forcing you to (if your parents are, tell them to give me a call). Maybe you’d be down to try out the military, or travel the world out of a backpack, or even lose all your money on the stock market. The possibilities are endless, and the world is at your feet. It’s your life and you’re young – you get to choose what to do with it.