Gap Year

Coming to the end of your degree? Feel like one last chance to let your hair down - maybe go travelling and see the world? One last 'fling' before settling onto your career path, start paying back your student loan, getting a mortgage, etc. But not entirely sure how employers feel about this? Read on:

Generally, employers understand these feelings and are pretty positive about graduates who take a year-out after their degree provided you follow a few golden rules:

  • Do something with the time you take off
  • Broaden your horizons
  • Develop transferable skills - teamwork, project management, communication skills, etc.
  • Don't take too much time out - generally no more than one year if you plan to apply for graduate training schemes.

If you plan to take a few months off backpacking the globe try to think of something you can do which would present well at interview - for example justify your travels by stating, 'I took an extended holiday in East Africa because it was a lifelong ambition to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.' Even better join one of the many 'Work Abroad' programs:

TEFL (Teaching English Abroad)
Teaching English as a foreign language is open to graduates from any discipline and there is no requirement for graduates to be able to speak a foreign language. TEFL provides a host of transferable skills such as increased self-assurance, communication skills and almost any positive feature that comes to mind. Initial training is need for most reputable employers like EF English First, who offer a complete employment package including free flights, free accommodation, free health insurance and a salary equivalent to that of a local manager in a position with several responsibilities. With 40 years' experience in language education, EF English First offers comprehensive teacher training and induction and the opportunity for placement within its network of 200 English language schools operating in 16 countries. Training is based on a 4-week intensive course that is available monthly in Manchester's student residential area at the subsidised price of £475 (subsidy is based on a 12-month commitment). For more information on EF's programs visit www.englishfirst.com

Volunteer Work
There are a host of volunteer programs available such as the fundraising project Prince William undertook with Raleigh International - a charity committed to the personal growth and development of young people from all nationalities and backgrounds. Raleigh International's overseas projects are about teamwork and undertaking a unique blend of mental and physical challenges. Volunteers are required to raise funds to cover all costs of joining the program and support the charity. Typically placements are for 2-3 months - www.raleigh.org.uk

For a range of developmental projects related to your field of study, VSO offers volunteers a chance to share and develop skills and gain valuable experience working in some of the world's poorest countries. These are multi-disciplinary projects and may require a commitment beyond 12 months - www.vso.org.uk.

Adventure Projects/Activity Tours
For graduates interested in extended, organized tours either as a participant or tour leader there are a host of companies to research. Whether you are interested in a 'madventure' (www.madventurer.com) development project that gives you the chance to experience life in a rural community far removed from an office block and busy city living or work as a tour leader for activity camps in Canada, the US or Australia (www.bunac.org) or closer to home in Europe or the UK (www.pgl.co.uk).

Further Research
Vacation Work Publications offer a comprehensive range of Work and Travel books to suit any employment field or country of interest - www.vacationwork.co.uk

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