Whether you are leaving school or university you are probably a bit overwhelmed with what’s ahead. As great as most people make student life sound it’s still pretty stressful. If you are graduating, you are probably freaking out by what lies ahead. But, you really shouldn’t be stressing out. As long as you take things one step at a time, entering the adult world can be a breeze, and if you need a bit of time before you take the leap, you can always take a gap year.
Gap years are great because they allow you to experience the world, develop on a personal level and gain skills that will be useful to you in the professional world.
1. Travel and Start a Blog
Travelling is the top choice for school leavers and graduates alike. The reason is simple; at no other point in your life will you have so much free time and be able to tolerate conditions that are questionably hygienic (see hostels). So, it makes sense to explore some of the most popular gap year destinations during that time.
If you are interested in maximising your experience, you may want to consider starting a blog as well. Not only will this make your experience more memorable and have something to show your family and friends back home, but it can even be used as a portfolio when you are ready to start job searching.
2. Volunteer at an Animal Conservation Centre Abroad
Another great gap year idea is to volunteer at an animal conservation centre. If you are someone who loves animals and are interested in preserving our planet then you are guaranteed to enjoy this experience. Doing work that is so meaningful will help you make important decisions about your life, while it will also allow you to gain skills that will help you get ahead of the competition when you get back home.
As you probably know, employers look for candidates that can stand apart from the crowd and having done something unique. Make sure you include all the skills you’ve gained, i.e. being responsible, taking initiative and improving your decision-making skills, on your CV as these are all skills that can help you increase your employability.
3. Teach English in Asia or South America
Teaching English abroad is becoming increasingly popular as it’s a great opportunity to experience something different, increase your employability and make a different in the world. It is not suited to everyone as many countries will require you to do a PGCE before you can teach, but if spending a few months to gain this certificate does not bother you, then there’s no reason not to give it a go.
What’s great about this opportunity is that it allows you to get a first-hand experience of a new culture. This can significantly help boost your personal development and expand your horizons, while there are lots of skills to gain as well. Crafting lesson plans will be a testament to your creativity, working with students will help you gain skills that will be of use when dealing with clients or colleagues and the whole experience will help boost your organisational skills.
4. Learn a New Language
As English is an international language very few British people have mastered a foreign language. But, there’s a lot to be gained from learning a new language; it helps expand your horizons, it inevitably improves your communication skills and it helps broaden your mind. As such, dedicating a year (or even less) to this cause can help boost your CV and maximise your employability, while it can also win you points on campus.
To make the most of your gap year you should definitely consider moving to the target country and taking up an intensive course. Most cities across the world offer such options and it will be a great way to meet people and experience different cultures.
Mastering a foreign language is a skill that will come in handy both in university and in the workplace. Even if you are not required to work with the language, it still shows initiative and dedication to your professional development. If you are planning on targeting jobs that will allow you to travel and/or work with foreigners, you will definitely have a leg up on competition, while it can be a great perk if you are considering doing an exchange programme at university as well. Our advice is to target a language with a non-roman alphabet as it can open a new world to you.
5. Become an Au-Pair
To become an au-pair it’s critical to like children. Otherwise, you’ll end up suffering for the duration of your gap year. As an au-pair you’ll be expected to step out of your comfort zone; living with strangers is not an easy task, but it can help you understand what it’s like to experience a new workplace. Being required to spend so much time with people you don’t know will also help you hone your communication skills, while it will also help you become more responsible, something which can significantly boost your CV.
If you are lucky, you might be able to find a family that is looking for an au-pair as they travel which will allow you to travel expense-free. Remember that to make the most of this opportunity you’ll need to demonstrate initiative and creativity.
6. Work on a Farm
If you are an outdoorsy kind of person, you might be interested in working on a farm and picking fruit or doing other farm related chores. What’s great about this gap year idea is that it allows you to spend some time in an environment that is different to what most of us are used to. This means that you can take some time to think about your life and priorities and decide what you’d like to do with your life.
But, working on a farm is not just a matter of experiencing a different kind of lifestyle. It can also help you gain various work related skills. What’s more, it shows that you are not afraid to get your hands dirty and it demonstrates an interest in experiencing work that is different to what you do, skills that are essential for all great leaders.
7. Get a Job Abroad
Doing a gap year is all about experiencing something different, however as the professional world is a cut-throat one you definitely need to make your time count by gaining skills as well. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t travel if that’s all you’ve been dreaming of for the past couple of years, but it does mean that you should consider getting a job.
Getting a job abroad is often easier than getting one back home, and although you don’t need to commit to a full-time job that will pin you to a specific place, it’s a good idea to stay put for a while so that you can gain skills and form relationships with your employers.
What’s more, getting a job abroad can help you save up for university which could mean not having to get a job while studying.
8. Volunteer in an Underprivileged Community
Volunteering is always commented as it showcases your empathy and motivation towards making the world a better place. And although there are a lot of volunteering opportunities out there, one of the best things you can do is to help underprivileged communities. This can be a very meaningful experience and it will help you develop on a personal level.
It will also help you gain problem-solving skills, and it can be a great background to have if you are looking for a job in a charitable or non-profit organisation.
9. Join a Cultural Project
Whether you are into theatre or music, there are myriads of cultural projects across the world which will allow you to participate in something unique and have fun. Even if you don’t know how to play instruments or have never been part of a theatre production, you will still be able to learn a lot. Volunteers are generally expected to help bands and crews with everything, while in return they get to learn more about the project and culture.
10. Participate in an Archaeological Project
If you are a history enthusiast and are planning on pursuing a career in this field then you should definitely consider participating in an archaeological project for your gap year after graduation. These projects will allow you to work close to excavation sites, which can be quite a thrill if you like archaeology.
In terms of work skills, it will help you improve your teamwork skills as you’ll be expected to work as part of a team. This will inevitably also help you work on your communication skills and it will also hone your decision-making skills as you’ll often be required to take the initiative about your workload.
Taking a gap year can be a very beneficial experience, especially if you are not sure about what to do next in life. Taking some time off can help you decide, while at the same time it can help you gain skills that will increase your employability. Remember though that the key is to know how to explain your gap year on your CV.
Which gap year idea are you more excited about? Let me know in the comment section below!