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[box]Some jump right in, others take some time, but what’s the best option between graduation and getting a job?[/box]

Whether just beginning college or getting ready to put on a cap and gown, most students can’t help but ask, “what’s next?”

Some might decide to ease into the transition by taking a well-deserved vacation or by taking on an internship to gain more experience in their field of study.

Fred Potthast, Earth Systems Pacific vice president in San Luis Obispo, said he personally wishes he would have taken some time off after graduation.

But Potthast said after taking a job, new employees should not ask for time off  before they start their jobs.

“When an employer wants someone to work for them, the idea is (that) we’re hiring for someone right now,” he said.

For those who choose to take time off after graduation, there are equal advantages and disadvantages for students though.

Mary Verdin, president of Verdin Marketing in San Luis Obispo, said the time post-graduation is the best time to travel and experience the world.

“After you start your career, it’s hard to get away to do these kinds of things, and some employers may question a period of unemployment between jobs,” Verdin said. “If (recent graduates) took time off between more career-orientated jobs, I’d be fine with it if they tied it into their personal growth or showed me how it could make them a better employee.”

Civil engineering senior Cameron Shew would agree. Shew said under certain circumstances, the decision to take time off can be justified.

“I have a couple of friends who want to go to (medical) school but (they) don’t think they are strong enough applicants yet,” he said. “They plan to take a year off to gain relevant experience, such as conducting research or working as a paramedic. If you can’t line up a job right out of graduation, I would strongly consider applying to grad school or Cal Poly’s ‘4 + 1 Program.’”

Through Cal Poly’s “4 + 1 Program,” eligible students can earn both their bachelor’s and master’s degree after an extra year of studies.

Shew said he wouldn’t recommend taking time off without good reason.

“You will forget some of what you learned and lose some of your competitive advantage when employers ask about it,” Shew said.

For some, the decision can be crucial. Verdin said she suggests recent graduates think hard about their decision and take into account that, in certain circumstances, taking a trip shortly after being hired could cost them the job.

“(Recent graduates) might need to sacrifice short-term fun trips for a long-term career move,” Verdin said.

While students may want to take a break after school to travel the world or to gain more experience in other opportunities, many might have to consider their personal circumstances.

Cal Poly liberal studies alumna Kim Fischer said the decision depends on a person’s major as well as their financial situation.

If a recent graduate has loans to pay back, they might not have the option of putting their career on hold. If they don’t have loans or other financial obligations, Fischer suggests taking time off for as long as possible until getting a full-time job.

“If you can milk that time in between, then why not?” said Fischer.

Fischer is currently a substitute teacher for several cities in San Luis Obispo County.

“Since I just (graduated), I have a job where I need to use these six months to get experience, but it’s not really my career yet,” she said. “It’s kind of like (taking) time off in that subbing is not a huge time commitment, whereas the first year of teaching is more stressful.”

As far as the future goes, Fischer said she’ll have to see how next year goes.

“I have connections with both of my student (teaching) quarters,” Fischer said. “Without that, I don’t know what I would do.”

Like Fischer, Shew has made connections, but more so with internship opportunities he had in the past.

“I have been fortunate enough to have had two good internships, so pursuing a full-time job at either of those engineering firms is the best choice for me,” Shew said.

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