What is a “Gap Year”?
A gap year is simply a constructive “time out” to travel in between life stages. It gives young people a valuable learning experience where they can take on new challenges to expand their personal development. However, gap years are no longer just for college leavers. More and more adults who have a few years work behind them are also taking up the opportunity to go away on a gap year with many programmes being suitable for those taking a career break, retired or those simply needing a change of scenery for an extended sabbatical. Going on a gap year will broaden your view of the world and open you up to new experiences. It may even open a door to new career options post-retirement. Everyone talks about going travelling all the time and you can be sure to see a multitude of photos, videos and blog posts all over social media when they do go – let’s just admit it, we’re all jealous, they look like they are having great fun!
What are the benefits of taking a gap?
While a gap year gives you the chance to recharge your batteries and think about your future, it should be used to achieve much more than just a year-long break. With some proper planning, you can develop your gap year programme to build on your strengths, overcome your weaknesses and gain valuable life experience that cannot be taught in a classroom. A well-structured gap experience will add real value to your confidence and sense of achievement and can go a long way in helping you decide on what you want to do next. It will also – possibly more importantly – help you to understand yourself better and it’ll say more about you as an individual (your passion, interests, ambition) than exam results. As the competition for university places and jobs gets hotter, a gap year could really push your application up. It demonstrates skills, determination and willingness and is inevitably an interesting topic of conversation in interviews.
What do employers say about gap years?
Employers are looking for candidates who can come in and hit the ground running pretty much straight away, so your CV must reflect your skills and experience to demonstrate that you are able to do the job in question. If you have enjoyed a well planned and structured gap year, you’ll find you can draw on those experiences to prove you have what it takes. The increase in confidence and the skills gained on a gap year such as thinking on your feet, working under pressure, team leadership and an international perspective gained through working around other cultures, are highly sought after by employers.
City firms such as Deloitte and Slaughter & May, openly welcome applications from graduates who have a vast range of experiences, including a gap year (a productive one though – not just a season in Ibiza!). These companies understand the importance of an individual’s ability to show evidence of maturity, enterprise and constant commitment both in and out of formal education.
A retired recruiter of a major international company has commented, “A well-organised gap year largely spent overseas is a powerful way of developing many of the personal characteristics that my company seeks in graduate recruits: initiative in planning the year, the commercial and influencing skills often deployed in raising money at the start, the teamwork involved in many projects, the drive that is needed to succeed in a very different environment and the international perspective developed from immersion in another culture.
Above all, the experience as a whole builds confidence – the confidence that comes from tackling a major challenge and succeeding.”
So whether you want to go abroad to work with endangered animals, teach English, or partake in agricultural work, there is a gap year programme out there for everyone.