When people think about gap years they tend to immediately think of going abroad, working in the sunshine – maybe with elephants… However, taking a gap year doesn’t necessarily mean travelling abroad.
You can do lots of other things with your year out – volunteering, gaining valuable work experience or even learning a new skill. A productive gap year will look great on your personal statement if you are applying to university and also on future job applications, by demonstrating that you are organised and eager to learn new skills.
Gap year travel
Travelling is not a compulsory feature of a gap year but it’s still a popular choice – with good reason! With school finished, it’s a great time to go and see more of the world. Travelling will give you valuable life experience, offer you an opportunity to learn about alternative cultures and can help prepare you for living independently.
Volunteering in your gap year
With employers focusing increasingly on soft skills – positive character traits and the ability to work with others – it’s even more important to get volunteering! Helping out at a local charity shop won’t gain you any qualifications but the experience can vastly improve your employability.
Volunteering can enhance and provide you with unique skill sets. After volunteering at her local pharmacy, sixth form student Lucy felt much more confident,
Working behind the till has given me confidence speaking to strangers and learning how to have a professional relationship with the boss has made me feel more mature!”
Lucy’s experience gave her useful know-how that helped further her ambition to be a doctor.
Learn new skills on a gap year
You can use some time out to learn some new skills. This could be anything from learning a new language to doing a short IT or First Aid course or learning how to drive. Taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme will develop important skills, like teamwork and adaptability.
Getting some work experience in your gap year
Staying at home and working during your gap year can have a lot of advantages. Paid work experience which is relevant to your course is good for your UCAS application. It will also help after university – having a degree in engineering for example and work experience in this field, will set you apart from other graduate job-seekers. The money you earn during a working gap year will help you build up a university fund and do fun things – that £300 festival weekend wasn’t going to fund itself…!