Is a Gap Year Right for Me?
The job market is incredibly competitive these days. The increase in students graduating from university with degrees is also increasing and so something, somehow needs to separate you from the crowd.
Firstly, a quick definition of what a gap year actually is might help. It doesn’t technically have to be 12 months either. Instead, people from all over the world take ‘gaps’ from their tertiary education programmes or even their careers to take time out and experience the world in new ways. As always, a decent definition comes from Wikipedia on gap years:
“Students who take gap years typically undergo a growth in maturity and are better prepared to benefit from higher education or decide the form of education they wish to pursue. Students can also take gap years after graduating from undergraduate study and before entry into graduate school. These students might take advanced courses in math or language studies, learn a trade, study art, volunteer, travel, take internships, play sports, or get involved in cultural exchanges. Studies indicate that students who take a gap year perform better academically than those who do not.”
That whole setting yourself apart from the crowd factor when applying for jobs can be bolstered by the transferable skills developed from taking a gap year. From budgeting yourself around the world to getting from A to B in a non-English speaking country is character building stuff. Also, heading out to somewhere completely culturally different, like China or India or South America will open your eyes and increase you’re tolerance and respect towards other cultures, religions and perspectives.
There’s also a strong possibility that the experiences you encounter on a gap year will be quite humbling and ensure you don’t count your chickens when you return back to the UK. Being thankful you have a job, a roof over your head and food in your kitchen cupboards will give you a positive approach to your graduate career, despite having to start at the bottom.
For the jobs with a lot of competition in fields such as medicine, health, and education, a gap year may help give you real world work experience, the difference between an employer looking at 2 CV’s, one with a 6 month placement overseas and one without could be that swaying factor.
Another element in deciding if a gap year is right for you is whether or not you are certain (or not) about going to University at all. Taking a gap year will give you perspective, clarity and help you decide if you’re making the right choice.