Have you reached a point where you’re unsure of where you want to go next? Maybe you’ve just graduated and want a year out before you commit to the world of work? Or maybe you’ve reached a point in your career where you feel ready to take a time out?
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? If so, you might be ready for a gap year. Here’s a look at what this period in your life has to offer and why it could be just what you need.
What is a gap year?
Ultimately, a gap year is a time away from education and working life. It’s a period that allows individuals a break from the everyday.
Gap years have long been associated with travel. After the events of the last year and with the vaccine rollout promising a return to trips abroad, the idea of using this year to jet off to a far-flung location can be appealing, and it’s likely that many are picking up their travel plans where they left off right now.
During this year, which is usually taken before people start university or after they’ve completed their degree, travel is certainly the main focus for many. This can be used as an opportunity to volunteer abroad, learn a new language, and explore what the world has to offer.
Not everyone uses this time out to travel, however. Some stay put and volunteer on home turf or use the time to get work experience in the field they’re thinking of going into. They might decide to set up in the capital, commuting to an internship every day.
For older gap year-takers, there may be other reasons behind this sabbatical. Perhaps they’ve reached a crossroads with their career or maybe they’ve reached a point in their life where they’re free to take the 12 months off that they never got when they were younger.
Why take a gap year?
So, what are the benefits of taking a gap year? Here’s a look at soe of the main reasons you might want to consider it:
- Learn life skills
If you’re taking a gap year after uni, whether you opt to travel or you’re staying put, this is an opportunity to learn how to manage your finances by yourself. If you’re travelling, you’ll need to learn how to save and budget, while if you’re at home, you may be earning money during a work experience placement for the first time.
For older gap year-takers, you may be well aware of how to budget for your household, but if you jet off to a different country for a few months, you’ll pick up skills in how to manage money in a new country with a different currency.
- Contribute to society
Volunteering while you’re on your gap year is a great way to help out. Perhaps you’ve joined Habitat for Humanity or you’re volunteering with a local charity. Whatever you’ve decided to do, the work you’re putting in has the potential to make a difference.
- Learn a new language
Language skills are crucial not only to get by in the country you’re traveling in, but brilliant for the world of work. By becoming fluent in languages such as Chinese or Spanish, you could find that you’re a more desirable employee.
- Develop communication skills
Being able to speak to people from different backgrounds and cultures to your own is useful on both a personal and professional level. You can take these skills into a working environment.
- Discover your skillset
This time out is for you to think about what you want. Do you want to pursue that degree or go into the field you’ve studied in? Maybe you’ve been working in one industry for a decade and you’re ready for a change, but you don’t know where to go from here?
This year is for you to discover what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about. It will give you the chance to focus on where to go next.