Not Following the Crowd


It’s not always easy to find a first “real” job after college. Even harder? Deciding to take an unconventional career path.

But taking the less-traveled route has its benefits, as grads that go for it can attest. Consider programs like Teach for America (, The Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowship (, or Projects Abroad ( Or, check out the programs that enticed these two recent college graduates:

Greg Burns

greg-burnsIf you had asked Greg Burns three years ago where he wanted to live and work after college, Indianapolis wouldn’t have been high on his list.

But five internships in five years in cities across the country helped him put his location decision in perspective. His last internship was in San Francisco with Chevron. He was a day away from accepting the company’s offer of a full-time position, but he found a better opportunity in Indiana through the Orr Fellowship, a competitive program that places high-achieving Indiana college graduates in jobs at growing Hoosier tech firms.

“I’ve always had an interest in the entrepreneurial side of business,” Burns says. DuraMark Technologies, a company that specializes in durable safety labels and branding decals for industrial clients, is giving him that experience. In his two-year Orr Fellowship at DuraMark he’ll get to see all sides of the business. “All of my internships were with really big companies. But I wanted to have a big impact on a small company, and here I get to see how everything works.”

He is enjoying his time in Indianapolis. “I loved California. You can’t argue with the weather, but at the end of the day coming back to Indiana had a lot to offer. “Indianapolis is perfect for me. It’s a growing city, and without all of the hassles you find in bigger cities.”

Age: 24
Hometown: Lafayette, Ind.
School: Purdue University
Degree: Mechanical Engineering
Graduation date: May 2015
Employer: DuraMark Technologies, Westfield, Ind.

ABOUT Orr Fellowships

College seniors can apply for an Orr Fellowship, a two-year, post-graduate experience that combines career experience in a growing company, civic engagement and executive mentorship in Indianapolis. The application process is competitive: Orr Fellows are selected from a competitive application pool of more than 1,000 applicants. The 2016 class included 83 fellows placed at 39 host companies, including Roche Diagnostics, Finish Line and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Check out the program at your school’s career fair, or visit

Ashleeann Washington

ashleanne_washingtonAshleeann Washington graduated from Ohio University in 2012 and promptly took a job with a housing not-for-profit.

But it didn’t take long for her to realize she wasn’t passionate about the job, or the cause.

She left her job and joined AmeriCorps, helping high school students in her hometown of Dayton with college admissions applications. Now she’s in Indianapolis as an AmeriCorps member serving the Indiana Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs, where she’s gathering data to help improve programs and working on a major fundraising event to be held next spring.

Now Ashleeann knows what she’s passionate about: working with kids and helping school systems improve. And she has advice for college students and recent college graduates:

“If you don’t have the passion to continue your education indefinitely AmeriCorps is a great way to figure out if you are on the right career path. It’s OK if you don’t know for sure what your career path will be. Working in a program like AmeriCorps is a good way to get your feet wet, figure out what you like and what you don’t like, and get a better understanding of why you were placed on this earth.”

Ashleeann will complete her AmeriCorps service in June of 2016. With real-world work experience in hand and a good understanding of what she wants to do, she plans to start grad school in fall of 2016. 

Age: 25
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio
School: Ohio University
Degree: Communications
Employer: AmeriCorps/Indiana Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs
Living in: Indianapolis

ABOUT AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 members annually in service work at nonprofit, faith-based and community organizations across the country. The AmeriCorps service network includes Habitat for Humanity, City Year, Teach for America, FoodCorps and other worthy organizations that give AmeriCorps participants hands-on, community service experience in exchange for a modest living allowance.

AmeriCorps VISTA: VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) provides its full-time members to nonprofit, faith-based and other community organizations, and public agencies to create and expand programs that bring low-income individuals and communities out of poverty.

AmeriCorps State and National: This is the broadest network of AmeriCorps programs. These groups recruit, train, and place AmeriCorps members to meet critical community needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment.

AmeriCorps NCCC-FEMA Corps: AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, team-based, residential program for men and women ages 18-24. Its mission is to strengthen communities and develop leaders through direct, team-based national and community service.