Taking a gap year can be beneficial – certainly in terms of your career and the experiences gained – but you’ll need to determine if it’s the right choice for you.
What is a gap year?
The phrase ‘gap year’ has traditionally meant a period of time taken out by students after leaving high school/college and before starting university. However, gap years now happen at any stage, they can be taken by anyone, and for varying amounts of time.
You can fly off to Europian climates and experience different cultures or stay closer to home and sample what Malaysia has to offer. Whatever your destination, some examples of gap year activities include conservation work, adventure travel programmes, summer schools and internships.
What are the benefits of taking a gap year?
- Develop your transferable skills – you’ll learn to budget when planning a gap year, and you’ll need to use your initiative when making all the preparations. If you’re heading abroad for work experience, you’ll also acquire valuable skills employers want.
- Raise your cultural awareness – living and working alongside local people will allow you to appreciate other cultures and expand your global network of friends.
- Increase your confidence and independence – having to converse and interact with the people you meet can help you to build relationships and become more self-assured. Arranging travel, finding accommodation and surviving on your own money are great ways to show your independence.
- Learn a new craft – if there’s something you’ve always wanted to try, your gap year is a great time to give it a go. Whether you fancy surfing, filmmaking, cookery or even the art of kung fu, this is your chance to broaden your horizons.
- Gain work experience – most jobs expect you to have undertaken some form of work experience, and a gap year is a perfect opportunity to start building this. The more relevant it is to your course and future career, the better. For instance, if you want to be a teacher, seek out opportunities to work with children and consider community work if you’re looking to get into social care.
- Save money for university – another advantage to spending at least part of your gap year working is to earn money that can be used to fund your life as a student. While you may not be able to command a huge wage, it can give you a taste of being self-sufficient. Some gap year programmes, such as summer camps, allow you to work for pocket money to put towards travelling a country once the activities have ended.
- Improve your language skills – if your gap year involves living in a country where English isn’t so widely spoken, you should aim to pick up some useful phrases and then add to them each day. Not only will this endear you to local people, it may also help you find a job when you return home. Many organisations now trade globally and employing someone who can speak different languages is a huge asset.
- Give you time to decide if university is right for you – should you be in two minds whether you wish to devote the next few years of your life to studying for an undergraduate degree, a gap year can give you the breathing space to consider your options. A break from study often helps to provide clarity and it can even open up new avenues for a future career.