The benefits of taking a gap year are pretty obvious – the chance to meet lots of new friends, get an incredible suntan, and see some wild, wonderful and exotic locations. However, these aren’t the only advantages to taking that year out before you start work. And, with the job market for graduates still a fairly tough place to be, a well-planned gap year can help give you an advantage over others when it comes to looking for your dream job.
You may not be able to transfer your ability to ride an elephant or dance all night into a job when you return (or maybe you will…), but there are other aspects to taking a gap year that provide definite benefits for your CV. Here are a few:
A year at the University of Life can be a great addition to your actual university degree, adding the kinds of skills and experience to your CV that you wouldn’t have been able to acquire if you’d jumped straight from finishing your studies into a permanent job.
You might gain PADI qualifications, teach English as a foreign language, learn how to build homes in hostile environments, or get involved in wildlife conservation – all these skills look great on any CV and can demonstrate commitment and aptitude to a potential employer.
If you want to spend a gap year setting yourself up for a specific career, then choose activities that a relevant to that job. There are overseas opportunities for everything from PR and marketing through to medicine – you don’t have to spend the entire time on the beach.
2. You can network as you go.
When you’re travelling, you tend to meet people. It’s an incredibly sociable way to see the world. Without the pressures of a corporate environment or the expectations that you might feel back home, you can create lots of opportunities for establishing new contacts by really opening up and being yourself.
Plus, you never know who you might meet when you’re travelling or working abroad – you might come across people who can open up new opportunities, suggest alternative routes into the career you want, or even open the door to an elusive interview with your dream employer.
3. Refresh and refocus.
It’s often quite difficult to gain any kind of perspective on your career path when you are buried in exams at university or stuck in the UK, constantly reminded of the pressures and challenges of taking that next step towards working life. A gap year is the ideal opportunity to obtain genuine perspective, both in terms of what you’ve achieved so far and where you want to go next.
Taking yourself out of a familiar environment will shake up your way of thinking and the new perspectives you will come across when you’re travelling might give you some fresh new ideas. If you’re burned out from the stress of the student lifestyle, then you’re unlikely to be in a position to make good decisions – after a year out with plenty of new challenges, new sights and opportunities for relaxation thrown in, you will most likely find yourself refreshed and ready to take on the world.
4. Challenge yourself.
It might seem intimidating to set up a gap year that is full of new challenges, such as being away from friends and family for all that time, trying new physically demanding activities, or dealing with language barriers and alternative cultures. However, these tend to be the things that make us grow as people and you will find that you gain enormously in confidence from the kinds of experiences that you’re presented with every day when travelling – in a way that you just wouldn’t if you didn’t take that step.
Plus, the great thing about a gap year is that the opportunities for stepping outside your comfort zone are plentiful and tend to arise almost every day. Whether you find yourself agreeing to something you’d never do back home – such as jumping out of a plane – or you just gain the ability to strike up a conversation with just about anyone in a social setting, all of these will play a big part in creating confidence that you can use to bag yourself your dream career.
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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