These are fixed-term — typically six months to three years — opportunities that begin soon after graduation. Common opportunities that fall under this category include fellowships, rotational programs and post-graduation internships. Many recent graduates pursue these as part of gap or glide years before law, medical or graduate school, while others use these opportunities to try something new.
There are many different types of short-term programs. Some are structured programs, managed and funded by an organization. Others involve independent work or projects.
Understanding Programs for Recent Graduates
Common reasons recent graduates pursue these programs include to:
- Gain clarity on career goals and interests through experience before committing to permanent work or higher degrees in a specific field
- Explore a field of interest and develop additional skills
- Build work or internship experience that one did not have the chance to do during college
- Build relevant experience to strengthen future job or graduate school applications
- Engage with a community or cohort of people with similar interests
Common programs include:
- Rotational programs - These opportunities provide exposure to many different roles within an organization by rotating through multiple roles and functional areas. Many of these programs are two years in length, and culminate in a placement in a leadership or management role within a function in the company.
- Service fellowships - Also known as “service corps” programs, these consist of full-time work for one to two years years within a social impact or service-focused organization.
- Post-graduation internships - These opportunities are part-time or full-time work roles that are typically contracted to last six months to one or two years.
There are a wide range of organizations outside of Princeton that offer these types of opportunities across fields and workplaces: private companies, government and nonprofits. Both Princeton and non-Princeton programs and services are detailed below.
In addition to structured programs, recent graduates also create opportunities for themselves, which could include:
- An independent project
- Working (either full- or part-time) in a role with the intention of staying for 1-2 years and using the experience as a stepping stone into a field of interest or to try something new
When thinking about your post-graduation plan, it is important to start by reflecting on your professional growth in college and setting goals.
Consider the following questions:
- Which career fields am I curious about? Which ones have I learned about or developed experience during my time at Princeton that I’d like to build upon?
- Are there work, leadership or volunteer experiences I did not explore as deeply in college as I would've liked?
- What can I do next that will help me clarify my longer-term goals?
- What interests, values and/or skills do I want to incorporate into what I do next?
- Are post-graduate work programs common in career fields of interest to me as a way to get started in the field? If I’m unsure, how can I find out?
If you are not sure where to start with any of these questions, research work programs in your career field of interest and meet with a career adviser. An adviser can help you identify your goals and priorities and to determine if these programs would be a good match for you.
You could also consider connecting with an alum who pursued a program of interest to you for insights into their personal experiences. The Alumni Profiles on the Career Compass or the Career Chats program could help you do so.
If these programs do seem like a good fit for you, here are some things to know and consider in your search.
- Rotational programs: September - January
- International fellowship programs: August - November
- Princeton service fellowship programs: October through January
- U.S.-based non-Princeton service fellowship programs: Flexible deadlines, fall through spring
If you are conducting a search for programs in a specific industry, familiarize yourself with peak recruiting timelines. It is important to also check the specific deadlines of any particular program(s) of interest to you.
Programs vary in their time commitment, typically falling within the range of six months to three years. Before accepting an offer from one of these programs, be sure you are comfortable with committing to the full length of the program. Be aware of all of the expectations of you as a participant, as some programs might have requirements outside of normal work hours (e.g., professional development workshops, community-building experiences and networking events).
There are a wide range of compensation levels and types for these programs, which may or may not include the following:
- Different forms of pay: salary, living stipend, hourly wage, etc.
- Health insurance
- Housing or supportive resources for housing (e.g. funding or resources for finding affordable housing in a certain area)
- Financial support for future education
Research the compensation and benefits of any opportunity and weigh those against your needs and goals.
Programs for recent graduates may take you all over the world. When considering an opportunity’s location, consider the following:
- What do you hope to learn/experience from living in this location?
- What do you know about the standard of living, housing and transportation in this area compared to what you have experienced before?
- Are there language barriers and/or cultural differences you should be aware of?
- Will you have access to necessary facilities or accommodations for your own health and wellbeing in this location?
- How flexible is this program with your ability to travel within or from the main location?
- Will you be able to return home during your time in the program if needed?
The sponsoring program
Since there is no one centralized resource or process for vetting the legitimacy of these types of programs, conduct your own research to:
- Determine the reputation of the sponsoring organization and how long they have been in existence
- Learn about their history and if they have appeared in the news
- Connect with a recruiter from the program to ask questions and an alum of the program on LinkedIn to ask about their experience
- Pay attention to any concerning information that you come across, such as a large quantity of negative reviews from past participants or negative press about the program, its leadership or an organization’s history
If you are motivated to gain experience in or exposure to a particular industry area right after college, then consider the following list as a starting point for thinking about possible opportunities by career field:
- Arts, Culture, Media & Entertainment
- Entry-level paralegal or legal practice assistant jobs and internships
- Experience in career fields that relate to your areas of interest within law can be valuable prior to pursuing law school
- Social impact
- Service fellowships: Peace Corps, Govern for America, Report for America and AmeriCorps (available to U.S. citizens only)
- Federal government Pathways program
- Other government internship programs for college graduates (see the federal government search and state and local government search guides for advice on finding positions and applying)
The Office of International Programs Fellowship Advising team is a resource for juniors considering applying to international work or academic fellowship programs. Their site features a fellowship search tool to identify international academic and service fellowship opportunities.
Princeton offers fellowship opportunities involving independent projects after graduation:
- Martin A. Dale '53 Fellowship
- Henry Richardson Labouisse '26 Fellowship
- ReachOut 56-81-06 Fellowships
There are a wide variety of international and domestic service fellowship programs run by offices at Princeton:
- Princeton’s international service fellowship programs include: Princeton in Latin America, Princeton in Asia and Princeton in Africa.
Princeton’s service fellowship programs that are U.S.-based include: Project 55 AlumniCorps, High Meadows Fellowship Program and the Scholars in the Nation’s Service (SINSI) Fellowship.