1st Oct 2012
How to... Get the most out of your gap year
THE gap year is becoming increasingly popular before, during and after university — particularly as a result of the recession. Taking a year out allows each graduate/student the opportunity to experience something different — be that travelling, working abroad or volunteering. It can be an opportunity to gain invaluable skills and experience that can then be applied in the workplace/classroom.
Some graduates take a year out to travel the world or to visit countries they have always wanted to see. This type of gap year provides the opportunity to both see and experience new cultures and languages and gain a wider understanding of the world at large. It is often the only time that a graduate may have the opportunity to experience such a lengthy period of travel — as once a career is embarked upon, mortgages taken up and responsibilities set, it is difficult to take one year out to simply just travel.
Volunteering can be a very rewarding opportunity. There are many types of volunteering opportunities, ranging from working on a wildlife conserve in Thailand to teaching English in Africa. This form of experience adds greatly to the CV and, if chosen correctly, graduates can gain skills and experience that are relevant to their chosen career path. It is a great experience for both the graduate as well as the people who benefit from the work undertaken.
Some graduates prefer to go straight into employment and wish to seek employment abroad — be that via internships, working as an au pair or gaining paid employment within a specific industry.
Often many graduates find that the only way to gain work experience is to take up a job in another country, with a view of coming home again once they have sufficient experience for the local job market. Whichever path is chosen it is important to consider the logistics — how long you plan to go away for, how much it will cost you and how you will get there.