Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2012

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Some experts advise unemployed graduates with student loans to consider an alternative career choice (even if that path is just a temporary detour) and re-invent themselves in order to weather the debt storm.

In a recent Forbes Magazine article, an analysis was performed on recent law school graduates who entered a competitive work force without enough available jobs. The magazine discovered that out of an annual amount of 45,000 law school graduates and only 25,000 yearly job openings, around 20,000 highly educated and highly indebted former students are left with expensive student loans and no job to pay those debts off. Yet some of those who didn’t find immediate employment in the field of law were still able to find success, but in unlikely places they wouldn’t have expected.

The key, however, is using an earned degree to the highest advantage. A degree, for all intents and purposes, represents diligence, hard work, and commitment. It shows employers that an applicant has what it takes to get a job done and perform well under pressure. Whether a graduate has a law degree, history degree, kinesiology degree, philosophy degree, or any other certificate from an institution, it’s important for former students to make that degree work for them. Employers love to see the notation of a completed college career on resumes, even if that employer represents a job outside of an applicant’s field of study.

Law students riddled with student loan debt can find their education applicable in many other fields. According to the aforementioned article, some students have found a wonderful outlet for their expertise in the law by working for non-profit organizations. Non-profits, which often operate on donations and limited government or private funding, can take an educated individual’s skills and turn them into wonderful services for communities and people in need.

No, the amount of money yielded from a non-profit will be nothing compared to a top-tier law firm, but it’s a great sidestep to help pay off student loans while contributing to an area in need.

If students aren’t interested in such a field however, there are countless others to consider. They should try looking at the skills acquired from the area of study and see where those skills would apply. History students, for example, may find themselves suited perfectly for a writing or editing job. The rigorous research techniques, the countless written pages, and the development of a careful and analytic attention to detail are all wonderful skills that would help a history graduate carrying student loans to perform well in this field.

Or consider the kinesiology student who applies for a job at a local recreation center, the animal science major serving at an animal shelter or obedience school, the English and math majors at tutoring agencies, or the art major with a paid internship at a museum.

Students should change their paradigm, pick up that half-full glass, and take advantage of the recession. Student loans can prove to be a massive burden when the job market is in a slump, but those willing to take a quick detour can still find paychecks to satisfy those bills—and all the while earning themselves a valuable experience that would have otherwise alluded them.