The term ‘gap year’ was originally used for when a student took time off after college and before starting university. However, nowadays we use the term ‘gap year’ for any period of time taken off work, no matter what stage of education you’re at.
Taking a gap year can often mean travelling the world on an adventure holiday, discovering new cultures and experiencing different ways of life. It can also sometimes mean staying in your own country and volunteering at community centres, wildlife parks, or working with children or teachers.
But is there any benefit to taking time away from education or seeking employment?
Gain confidence and meet new people
One of the great benefits of taking a gap year and travelling the world is meeting new people. Putting yourself in new social situations can be a fantastic way to build your confidence and gain those all important communication skills which can be used in education and employment.
If you’re naturally quite a shy person and one of the main reasons for taking a gap year is to travel and develop your communication skills, then why not consider taking part in group activities during your gap year. Meet as many people as you can and you’ll be a completely different person by the time you get back!
Learn something new
You may decide that you want to learn something new or expand upon an existing project or hobby. A gap year will allow you the freedom to express yourself and be as creative as you want, without the pressure of deadlines and duties.
Learning a new craft may benefit your future if this is something you want to explore further when looking for employment or to gain a qualification. The experience you can gain from learning something new may not always have a direct effect on your future; however it will certainly build upon your existing skills.
Gain valuable work experience
Taking a gap year doesn’t always mean you have to go abroad and travel the world. If you want to focus your gap year more towards your chosen career, volunteer work or taking part in activities may provide you with some great work experience for your CV – and you may even pick up a few references along the way.
Try to put yourself in the right place and the right situations to gain that valuable work experience. Don’t be afraid to meet people and find out more about what they do and how they progressed with their own career.
Develop your language skills
If your chosen subject or career is going to require you to learn a new language, then immersing yourself in a culture is the best way. Living for a year in that country and being around native speakers is typically regarded as the best way to learn a new language.
Being able to speak and write more than one language is a huge skill to have, and one which opens many doors to all sorts of different occupations. Taking a gap year to travel and learn a new language is probably one of the best ways you can use your time, and provides you with the very best experience for your CV and future.
Take time to think
Many people take a gap year so they have the time to think without distraction. Your future may be unclear and getting away from the usual daily grind might just be what you need to help you decide your future.
You may be unsure of what subject to study at university and what career path you’d like to take, and sometimes travelling around the world can allow you to make that all important decision seem a little easier. You never know what’s out there, and many opportunities can present themselves when you change your environment and meet new people.
Still not sure? Watch the video:
This video is by Ibz Mo and features Viola Helen.
Gap year FAQS:
Q: Will taking a gap year affect my chances of gaining employment?
This depends quite heavily on what you do during your gap year, and the experiences and skills you learn which can be of benefit to you and an employer. If you decide to travel the world, get drunk, climb a mountain, dance until you drop, and generally treat it like a holiday; then you might struggle to justify to an employer what exactly you’ve learnt during this time.
This is why it’s important to consider and plan beforehand what you’re likely to benefit from this gap year. Will you be learning new skills? Are you travelling to a planned destination with a chosen culture which directly links to your studies or career?
Remember, you may have to explain your gap year to an employer during an interview, so you want to ensure they realise that it was a positive experience and one which has allowed you to develop your skills which will be beneficial to them.
Q: Will taking a gap year mean I get left behind?
One of the issues you’re likely to be pondering is whether or not taking a gap year will hinder your chances of employment because you are missing out on work experience. When the time comes to apply for a job, you may be worried that other candidates may have an edge over you because they worked whilst you took a gap year.
This is certainly something to seriously consider, and whether or not you take a gap year depends a lot on your chosen qualification and career path. If a gap year will clearly hinder your progress and set you back a year, then maybe this isn’t for you.
“To travel is to live”
~ Hans Christian Andersen
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
~ St. Augustine
“Every hundred feet, the world changes.”
~ Roberto Bolano