Taking a gap year is a whole lot of fun, no doubt about that, but it can also be pretty rewarding for you in the long run too.
It’s no secret that getting a job after uni can be pretty tough at the moment, so anything you can do to make yourself stand out from the crowd is a massive bonus and I whole heartedly believe that, if done right, a gap year can provide you with some serious kudos with potential employers.
Unfortunately, learning to drink 10 bottles of Chang without developing an instant headache isn’t the kind of ‘skills’ I’m talking about here; no future honcho is going to be too impressed with that (although if you have mastered that particular art please share your secret with me – those ‘Changovers’ are a b*tch)
I’m thinking about ways in which taking a break and travelling can really benefit your career, not jeopardise it. To prove it, I’m running down a list of 8 career benefits of taking a gap year.
How can a gap year make you more employable?
Make your CV stand out from the crowd
Volunteering at an orphanage in Kenya, helping with the conservation of Sea Turtles in Costa Rica, working as a councillor at a summer camp on the outskirts of New York.
All equally great ways to make your CV ‘pop’, and at a time when standing out from the crowd is so important, being able to tell employers about the time you spent teaching English to a class full of underprivileged Cambodian children certainly make you special.
Conservation projects look great on any CV
You’ll never know who you might meet…
Travelling is an awesome way to network. You never know who you will meet and what opportunities will come your way.
You will constantly be meeting new people, introducing yourself, sharing information about your life and making new friends, and keeping your ear to the ground for new opportunities while on your travels could see you swapping your daily grind for a new life in Sydney (or somewhere equally as good) so network, network, network!
Step outside of your comfort zone
There is no better way to gain confidence and ‘come out of yourself’, so to speak, than to step out of your comfort zone – and as a traveller that’s something you’ll do almost every day.
Whether, for you, stepping out of your comfort zone simply means meeting new people or whether it’s throwing yourself off a bridge attached to a bungy chord it’s all helps to create the confident ‘go getting’ personna that goes a long way when going for that dream job.
Push yourself to do things that will ultimately grow your confidence
A gap trip is also great for your career as it can give you time to refocus and reassess what you actually want to do. Many people take a sabbatical from one career and delve straight into another off the back of some serious reflection time taken during a gap trip.
Maybe you took part in one particular experience during your trip that you don’t want to leave behind or maybe the time away simply offers thinking space to rethink what you really want to do in life, either way, you can end up in a much happier place off the back of it.
Gain experience in your new career
Teaching, medicine, conservation, PR, construction, marketing, infact just about any career you can think of can be honed to perfection abroad. A working holiday in Australia or New Zealand is the perfect way to start your career in a sunnier setting.
Teaching underprivileged kids will develop skills for the future and get you noticed
Learn new skills you didn’t have before
Studying for a TEFL course, learning to dive and achieving your PADI diving certificate, learning yoga at the top of a remote Nepalese retreat are all skills you can gain, and put to the test, on the road.
They’re also skills that will look great on your CV on your return. As much as spending your time flitting from party to party sounds amazing (and don’t get me wrong it definitely has it’s place on any awesome gap trip), it’s skills and learnings like this that you can bring home, that will really impress potential employers.
Learn a new skill while you're travelling
Make the most of your experience
Now, I’m not necessarily talking about specific career skills like those mentioned in the point above here, I was actually thinking more along the lines of those (queue teacher voice) transferrable skills, and boy does travelling during a gap year give you those; You may just need to know how to dress it up to create a rocking CV.
Punctuality You have a lot of flight, busses, trains to catch during a gap trip you know
Negotiation skills Haggled over the cost of a bucket at a full moon party
Budgeting and planning Uuummmmm well you kinda did that when you put this whole trip together and you will/did continue to do it throughout
Independence Travelling alone through remote Indian villages while locals wanted to ‘practice their English’ with you
Who would have thought that haggling while travelling could actually end benefiting your career?! Image courtesy of ActiveSteve
Recharge your academic batteries
For most of us who have been in education since 4 or 5 years old, by the time of reaching your late teens and early 20s, the time comes for a well deserved break. Although, granted, the fact that you need some time out doesn’t necessarily mean that you are done with studying altogether.
A gap trip can give you the break you need to your regenerate your enthusiasm for learning and maybe even improve your grades on your return, and better grades mean – can you see where I’m going with this? – a better chance of the career you want.