Make Your Gap Year Count

All signposts point to ‘Career’ or ‘Gap Year’ after uni. The former, of course, leads to paying off student debt and reaping the benefits of all those hours studying in the library. The latter meanwhile is an open invitation to explore the world and the endless possibilities this entails.
Taking a gap year might sound like the risky option and a delay in jumping aboard the inevitable career wagon, but it doesn’t have to be a ‘year out’ as such – the trick is to make the time count. Here are a few ways to make a gap year matter.
See the world
There’s a world on your doorstep waiting to be explored, with myriad options from close to home in Europe to North America, Asia and Australasia. Plenty of travel companies specialise in gap years – choose from organised tours, teaching, volunteering, conservation work, community work and loads more.
Score CV points
Lying horizontal on a beach scores zero on the CV, but learning a language, learning to dive or helping local community projects show you’re a ‘doer’, which is an important quality in any business. Make a year out count by picking up transferable skills you’ll be able to sell at a later date, or at the very least, engage and be an active participant in the world around you so it doesn’t seem like you’ve wasted 12 months at full moon parties.
As well as visiting new places, travel is also a chance to meet new faces. Make new friends, yes, yet keep one eye on the future too and create opportunities to meet people who work in areas you’re interested in, or who could open the door to career prospects in the future.
Write about your travels in a blog, take photos and submit to picture agencies, build your own website, shoot and edit video – depending on your interests there are limitless options for documenting your gap year travel, and the material you produce could be a brilliant way of creating a portfolio that will help in certain careers such as marketing, digital media, the arts and publishing. Even if documenting your travels is purely to keep in contact with family back home, at the very least it shows an industrious streak.
Work abroad
Some countries such as Australasia, New Zealand and Canada have specific working holiday schemes for young people that enable you to work for a limited time period. With the right visa, you can apply for temp jobs and find work related to your degree.
Indulge in your hobby
A year out is a once in a lifetime chance to follow your dreams wherever they may take you around the world. It’s a chance to indulge in your hobbies and put the hours in to become an expert. Love yoga? Take yoga camps and train to be a yoga teacher. Love cooking? Take a local cookery course in Thailand. Even if your hobby bears no relation to the realities of bringing home the bacon in the future, spending the time to develop your skills shows lots of other qualities such as tenacity and determination.
Biog: Katie is a freelance writer who daydreams about taking another gap year in Australia and New Zealand.