Making the most of your gap year

Taking a year off between study and starting graduate employment is a great way to have a break or develop your skills to build on your experience. Popular choices include travel, part-time or temporary work, volunteering, or short study courses. If you have deferred entry for a job or plan to re-apply for positions next year, you can consider productive ways to fill your time until your job starts. Let’s look at the popular choices in more detail.

Travel
Try websites like STA travel which advertises an abundance of gap year destinations, advice and information on volunteering and working abroad. You may wish to undertake an adventure tour to meet new people and explore exciting parts of the world. Many websites offer package deals and trips to suit any budget. You can search different types of trips such as ‘city breaks’ or ‘adrenaline adventures’. Try G-Adventures.

Part-time or temporary work
Previous graduates, who have taken a break, felt a year was a long time to spend without income. Therefore they spent some or all of that time undertaking paid work. In some cases this work was related to career areas of interest in order to re-apply to graduate schemes with their added experience. Obtaining part time or temporary work through agencies is the most common approach. Have a look at our list of recruitment agencies here. Planning to stay local? Get some inspiration from what previous graduates have done.

Volunteering
You can volunteer for specific projects within a charity over shorter periods of time such as a few weeks or months. Alternatively you can volunteer a few hours a week for longer term roles. Websites like do-it.org and Charity Choice are a good place to start. You can search by availability (hours), type of activity, and type of charity. Volunteering can help you get the career you want. Want to work in schools? Volunteer as a guide, activities worker or play worker!

Short study courses
Always wanted to learn a second language or develop a skill? Taking short or part time courses can add valuable assets to your CV. Take a look at the Brasshouse Language Centre in Birmingham or your local college for courses. Local authorities publish adult learning guides which can be accessed through their website or a paper prospectus at neighbourhood offices. There are lists of vocational courses and qualifications on the OCR and the City and Guilds websites.

Remember a one year gap on your CV does not have to be a barrier and some graduates choose to have a break to follow their interests or develop additional vocational experiences. Make the most of your time while enjoying yourself!

Yasmin Ansari – Careers Adviser

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About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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