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What Is a Gap Year and How It Can Be Helpful to Your Career

gap year

Taking some time off can be worthwhile. More than a gap, the months to a year of finding oneself can be a bridge to significant life decisions. A gap-year program can pack experiences, interactions, adventures, skills, and more.

Look no further. This article will help you find the answers to the above questions, setting your expectations about this gap year and its potential benefits to your career.

What Is a Gap Year

It is time away from school or work. Students usually take a gap year before going to college (or while enrolled), finding a job post-graduation, or pursuing graduate studies. On the other hand, professionals take this opportunity to reassess their careers, such as moving to a different path and acquiring new skills.

A gap year embodies experiential learning with fun and excitement too. Gap-year takers travel, study, work, volunteer, and step out of their comfort zones. They step into the real world and immerse themselves into new and different environments.

Many colleges and universities support students taking a gap year. A New York Times article by Harvard University’s dean of admissions is a must-read. It provided insights on time off amid pressures that students face to get in the right school, the right job, etc.

Filling in the Gaps

  • How much does it cost?- Gap-year programs vary with fees covering classes, living expenses, and other essentials. You can also plan independently and budget for everything, from insurance to internet costs.
  • How long is a gap year?- It can last weeks, a semester, to a year or two.
  • Can you take a gap year anytime? Consult the offices of the admissions and financial aid, as applicable, first.

Why a Gap Year Is Great for Your Career

How does taking a gap year positively affect your employment and working life?

1. It acts as a practical preparatory stage

The Gap Year Association’s National Alumni Survey in 2015 revealed positive feedback from those who took a gap year.

  • College outcomes: Gappers surveyed reported higher GPAs and shorter times to graduation averaging four years.
  • Job satisfaction: Eighty-six per cent (86 per cent) of the respondents found themselves satisfied or very satisfied with work. Around the time of the survey, less than 50 per cent of U.S. workers showed satisfaction in their jobs.
  • Civic participation: Gappers were engaged in voting (63%) and community service (89%).

2. It allows you to pause and ponder

Do you feel like switching to another career? Are you satisfied with your current job? These matters need introspection and maybe someplace conducive to think hard about what you want.

Taking the time to find personal growth and explore prospects has produced positive results, as the survey above showed. A gap year can be that much-needed downtime from a hectic life.

3. It encourages you to interact with people.

You are likely to work with people of diverse personalities and backgrounds throughout your life, so it’s always best to have social skills.

Seeing the world presents many opportunities to learn about people and their quirks. You may have to overcome shyness to speak with locals, bosses, classmates, fellow travellers, and the whole lot you’ll meet during your gap year.

4. It teaches you things.

Learning a foreign language, editing videos, organising events, making presentations, taking pictures, budgeting, cooking, changing tires, and washing clothes are some of the many skills you can pick up during this immersive break.

It can be a journey of self-discovery, where motivation, discipline, flexibility, tenacity, resourcefulness, determination, and even survival skills are developed. Your experience and skills will look good on your resume too.

5. It helps cure burn-out or avoid one.

Burn-out results from chronic workplace stress and is classified as an occupational phenomenon by the World Health Organization.

If you are feeling this way, think of taking a year off from deadlines and productivity thresholds. You can go on adventures, do odd jobs, and best of all, spend time away from your computer.

Also, consider a gap year as a preventive measure to burn out. Don’t wait to loathe what you have always loved to do.

Embarking on a gap year is like working toward your future, where and who you want to be. Costs aside, it’ll make the experience meaningful and rewarding if you keep an open mind to everything.

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Aubrey i​s a writer and a regular contributor. She writes on topics on job searching and career development in hopes to provide better tips on job hunting and career development.

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