Delaying the Real World: A Twentysomething's Guide to Seeking Adventure *Roam the Globe*Find a Cool Job*Make the World a Better Place


Congratulations - you've finished school. But if you're not sure you're ready to settle down into an office environment, Delaying the Real World is chock-full of creative ideas and practical information that will help you craft your own life-changing adventure: Teach English in Thailand; Take a road trip; Build houses in a Mexican village; Counsel at a children's art camp; Work on a cruise ship; Lead excursions in the Grand Canyon; Intern at a wildlife sanctuary; Bike (or drive) across America; Guide snorkeling ...
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Congratulations - you've finished school. But if you're not sure you're ready to settle down into an office environment, Delaying the Real World is chock-full of creative ideas and practical information that will help you craft your own life-changing adventure: Teach English in Thailand; Take a road trip; Build houses in a Mexican village; Counsel at a children's art camp; Work on a cruise ship; Lead excursions in the Grand Canyon; Intern at a wildlife sanctuary; Bike (or drive) across America; Guide snorkeling groups in Australia; Hike along the Pacific Trail; Create (and fund) your own service project; Travel around the globe on one affordable plane ticket; And much more! In this one-of-a-kind guide, Colleen Kinder scouts out experiences that will not only satisfy your free spirit but also pay the bills, make the world a better place, and maybe even catapult you into a future career. Including stories from young adventurers and detailed information on making these dreams a reality,Delaying the Real World is a road map for the new graduate, inspiring and directing you toward making your twenties the most rewarding (and adventurous) decade of your life.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762421893
  • Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/2005
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.62 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Colleen Kinder is a graduate of Yale University. She has delayed the real world by living in Cuba, traveling through Latin America, and volunteering with the elderly.
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Read an Excerpt




Copyright © 2005 Colleen Kinder
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7624-2189-4

Chapter One


If you are looking for a new and challenging experience, situating yourself in the right place is a key first step. The real estate mantra doesn't lie-location is everything! The right atmosphere and living situation are crucial ingredients to crafting your ideal experience. By plopping yourself down in a fabulous hotspot, you will guarantee that your every waking minute is a blast. It may be a leap of faith to pick up and move to whatever place is calling your name, but if you accompany the leap with some thoughtful planning and creative resourcefulness, things will fall into place just fine.

When college comes to a close, people tend to fall victim to the isolating mentality that everyone is doing such-and-such a thing or everyone will be in so-and-so City (as if it were really possible that a nation full of young people in pinstripe suits could descend on St. Louis for accounting jobs). It's important not to let this idea mislead you. First of all, people scatter and diversify more than you expect. It just happens that while boring commitments are lined up months in advance, you don't hear about brave moves and wild pursuits until they're underway, if ever at all. Besides, even if everyone and their mother became traveling salesmen, why should that make you doubt your alternative interests for a millisecond?

There will never be a better time to pick up and go. You are young, curious, and have loads of energy to pour into the place of your choice. Not to mention the fact that you are kidless, jobless, and totally autonomous-you may never again be this portable! So don't be afraid to let your thoughts creep beyond city or state boundaries and flirt with the idea of moving to a distant corner of this enormous country. Is there a place that makes your eyebrows jump every time you hear mention of its lifestyle or read of its distinct charm? With vibrant cities and enchanting towns of all locales and sizes to choose from, you will have no trouble finding a destination that fits your young heart's desires.


Road trip to southern California, settle down where the sun always shines and get a job at the San Diego Zoo leading children's educational camps.

Work at a comedy club, cozy café, or for an up-and-coming magazine in New York City.

Do a year-long teaching fellowship at a high school in Hawaii.

Lead outdoor adventure trips for a retreat center in the Ozarks.

Score an internship at your dream organization or for your ideal employer.

Plan events for a hotel in Las Vegas, putting together social events for the city's diverse conventions.

Do a year-long fellowship on hunger and poverty in Jackson, Mississippi.

Work as a safari driver for Alaska Wildland Adventures and navigate through trails of pristine national parks, or be a radio DJ for a local station in Nome, Alaska.


Cities can be paradise for recent college graduates because of their high concentration of twentysomethings, the energetic feel of their bustling streets, and the sheer quantity of diversions they provide to keep you constantly stimulated and on the go. The metropolis of your choice will place you in the heart of all the action and offer you all of the necessary elements to create your lifestyle of choice.


If you are not ready to say goodbye to the dating pool and nightlife options of your college years, you're in luck. We young people make things very easy by flocking to the same areas. There are a handful of thriving U.S. cities that have become meccas for the young and the restless. Cities like Atlanta and Chicago have been known to draw hordes of twentysomethings. And it's the type of young crowd a city draws that ultimately shapes the character of the nightlife. Once you have figured out what type of person resides in your prospective city, it won't be hard to get an idea for what the social style of the city is. Seattle has its pull on the environmentally-conscious coffee shop lover, while gentrified Boston brings in yuppie business types who enjoy a good Irish pub-crawl. Liberality and diversity are distinguishing factors in a city's young population as well. Minneapolis has a large gay population and New York City has representatives from nearly every ethnic group on the planet. Do a little neighborhood hunting to find your niche within the big city. You are bound to find the youthful flavor that suits you.

CHARM: Let's be honest, some places just have it. Whether it's with a breathtaking waterfront, a bustling Chinatown, or a historic baseball stadium, there are a number of U.S. cities that can allure you at first glance. Who could help but leave their heart in San Francisco after trucking up Lombard Street? Or not be wowed by ol' New Orleans after experiencing the madness of Mardi Gras? Once you get past the steaming sewers and packed street life of the Big Apple you'll find a lot to love in New York City's energy and diversity. Whether you prefer the aesthetic of skyscrapers or cobblestone alleys, there is a match out there for you.

NATURAL ATTRACTIONS: While living in a cool metropolis can provide enough around-the-clock diversions for any young adventurer, an urban location could also serve as a springboard to the great outdoors. Boulder, Colorado offers its inhabitants not only a view of Rocky Mountain ridges from just about anywhere in town, but also accessible terrain for hiking and a load of other adventure sports. You can trek through the foothills at 6 AM and be at work by 9 AM, not to mention the fact that ski slopes are just a car ride away. So all you outdoorsy types, look closely and you may be surprised to discover what natural jewels lie in a city's own backyard. Since not all of us have wheels, a sizable park within the city limits is a huge bonus.

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT: If a beer and a bar stool aren't enough to hold you, a thriving cultural scene may be the essential ingredient in making your city stay rich and unforgettable. Washington, D.C. is rife with free museums and historical monuments, Santa Fe draws artisans by the dozens to its vibrant bohemian atmosphere and you can't throw a stone in New York City without hitting a tattooed artist or musical denizen of one of the city's many subcultures. So check it out, and keep in mind that ethnic and cultural diversity are key components in any city's art scene. Furthermore, just as universities bring bars, they also bring theater, conferences, speakers, readings, and other cultural and educational events.

LOCALE: Your hometown or city is probably the most comfortable place in the world for you, but you never know how much more exciting things can get until you take a little risk. The United States is rich with regional flavors to chose from: the easy-going West Coast spirit, sun-belt conservatism, or East Coast intensity. America is big enough to give you a case of culture shock within its borders! A Southern belle in Vermont, a New Yorker in North Dakota, an Iowa farm boy turned San Diego surfer-mixing it up could be a quite a kick (for both you and all those lucky souls who stumble upon you!).

COST OF LIVING: If you want to settle into the heart of everything, keep in mind that a price tag will be attached. Unfortunately, the most desirable cities in the U.S. tend to be the most expensive. Rent and food in New York City, for example, cost more than twice what they might in, say, Kansas City. If you think a city home is worth the steep bills, make sure to read over the tips in the next section about how to afford the urban high life. Of course, if your financial outlook is just too grim, don't fret. There are plenty of cities out there that won't suck every penny from your piggy bank. Louisville (KY), Indianapolis (IN), Baltimore (MD), Philadelphia (PA), Baton Rouge (LA), Portland (ME), Memphis (TN), and Cleveland (OH) are on the less expensive side.


So you want it all. Late-night pubs, spicy ethnic restaurants and ocean side boardwalks are infiltrating your dreams and making your current place of residence look about as cool as a high school cafeteria. You've got your perfect city recipe and are ready to get cookin'. Great, but just hold up a sec. The instructions are still coming.

If you don't have a job lined up in your urban dreamland, your mind may already be reeling with visions of sleeping on park benches and subway a cappella singing. Before you resign yourself to abject poverty, give a thought to delaying your move until you have a substantial nest egg to take with you. Though there is a lot to say for just taking a plunge, you might also want to consider spending a summer in your hometown doing your traditional job routine so that your savings can pile up. Take advantage of free rent on Mom and Dad, fewer costly nights on the town and the lucrative summer job market. Landscape by day, wait tables by night and before the leaves fall you will have a small fortune to get you on your way.


Once you have arrived in the big city, take stock of your full range of occupational options-from your "reach" jobs to your "safeties." Perhaps your ideal employer is right there in the heart of the city center-a shiny skyscraper that twinkles at you every time you pass by on the highway. Maybe you've never been closer to that record label headquarters, avant-garde publication, legendary sports team, or renowned non-profit, but you can't even dream of being hired by them until you have two more decades of schooling, five doctorates, and three best-selling books. But hey, don't fret! They'd be glad to take you on as an unpaid intern! Honestly, this is how the system sometimes works. You offer your basic services and get to spend your days close to the action, breathing the same air as your gods, and gleaning wisdom from their example.

Some people don't have the patience for positions on the bottom of the professional totem pole. However, if it inspires you just to be a part of this organization's mission and work, and you can negotiate some sort of reasonable work arrangement (like half-days), then it may be worth logging in some salary-less hours. A few things could happen:

1. You get an inside peek into a world of creators and makers or movers and shakers and walk away with a solid idea of what you want to do, and just as importantly, what you don't want to do. 2. Your co-workers notice your meager brown bag lunches and take pity. The organization scrounges up some kind of "stipend" to lessen your financial burden, and thanks-be-to-Santa, health benefits come your way. 3. You get your foot in the door, your passion impresses the heck out of them, a dream job opens up, and voila! You're the first one that comes to mind. Work your magic. 4. You not only rub elbows with hotshots and personal heroes, but you find a clan of young entry-levelers and interns. Happy Hour is now the highlight of your week and you can't imagine life without these friends that share your passion. They form your network-both social and professional-in the years to come. 5. You bow out gracefully after a short stint but have a sure-fire conversation piece for future interviews about the time you alphabetized the photo collection of that genius, canvassed for that bright, young congressman, or fielded press phone calls for that controversial NGO.

Perhaps the most valuable thing about an internship is its brevity. You get to test out a work environment in a concentrated chunk of time without making a commitment to an organization or company. I did a short internship right after college that not only handed me valuable experience and contacts, but also gave me the chance to release all of my post-graduation nerves and to temper that irrational need for stability. By the end of June, I had already realized that there was no rush to pen myself up in an office. Practically all of my co-workers had dabbled in numerous jobs before ending up at our organization. I left for a year overseas more confident in my choice to do something unconventional.

Get out there and present yourself to your dream employer. It is safe to assume that every one is accessible to you as long as you present yourself well when contacting them. Think through every email you compose very carefully. We young kids tend to be more conversational in our emails (IM's curse), while older professionals expect email correspondence to be just as formal and flawless as letters. Proofread. Heed spell check's squiggly lines of caution! Make the effort to tailor your resume to each specific organization or line of work. Be creative when trying to make yourself stand out. Show them why you are an ideal fit for them. Go the extra mile, and then another. For example, send a thank-you note to an interviewer or spend an hour researching the organization you are smitten with. You may be surprised how eager even the most well-known and prestigious organizations are to scoop up an enthusiastic young person.


"WAIT!" you say. "So what if I'm a part of something I believe in? I am totally broke! I can't even afford a haircut!" Simmer down, simmer down. First of all, haircuts are overrated. Ask that artistic friend of yours for a quick favor and she'll have you all sheered in a snip. You'll even get compliments, I promise. Second of all, there are plenty of ways a young person with enough schedule flexibility, ingenuity, and energy to spare can make a living. If you are willing to put in time during evenings and weekends, the city's entertainment industry offers a bevy of jobs to choose from. So before you go joining the ranks of burger flippers just to make rent, consider finding a service job that is in some way connected to your interests, or will be at least stimulating.

Think about what makes your chosen city so fabulous; what bit of charm enticed you there? Once you have your finger on that, try to come up with a way to turn that cool thing into an employment opportunity. Bartend on Bourbon Street, care for the darling sea creatures at Monterey Bay Aquarium, ride a bicycle-taxi through downtown Orlando, or landscape the turf at Wrigley Field. Find a way to relish the flavor and ambiance of your city while making money off of it at the same time.

If you're working nights and weekends, you might as well work a little social activity in. Aim for employment that places you among your peers. You could rack up dates and tips at the same time! Coffee shops catering to the young crowd have cropped up right and left in recent years.


Excerpted from DELAYING THE REAL WORLD by COLLEEN KINDER Copyright © 2005 by Colleen Kinder. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Pillars of Delaying the Real World 5
Chapter 1 Home is Where the High Life is: Settling Down Into the Location of Your Dreams 12
Chapter 2 Thirsting to Live Abroad: Endless Ways to Live, Work, and Volunteer Overseas 45
Chapter 3 Take it Outside: The Coolest Outdoor Adventure Jobs and Physical Challenges 87
Chapter 4 Oh, So Many Places to Go!: Enough Travel Possibilities to Make Your Head Spin 122
Chapter 5 Why not Change the World?: Every Awesome Volunteer Opportunity Under the Sun 157
Chapter 6 All the World's a Stage: Creative and Fun-Filled Arts and Entertainment Jobs 182
Chapter 7 A Blast in Your Own Backyard: How to Make an Adventure (and a Load of Money) Out of Your Downtime at Home 213
Conclusion 233
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2005

    incredible read

    I couldn't put this book down. It really speaks to our generation about diverse opportunities. There's a part of the book where the author compares herself to a well-known sadist that's a little off, but, besides that, it's fabulous. It could have done more in terms of story, though. I will say that the picture of Ms. Kinder with Fidel Castro on her right and Mickey Mouse on her left is worth all the money.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2009

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