A gap year can be a great way to gain perspective on what you want to do in the future, and also earn some amazing experience along the way. The goal of a gap year is not to sit around and waste time, but rather to be constantly expanding your repertoire of skills and knowledge. Establishing a solid foundation for the future during a gap year requires some serious time and dedication. Here are five things that you should definitely be doing over the course of your 12-months off from academic or professional life.
1. Gain experience by applying yourself
It’s going to be difficult to jump back into school or work if you haven’t been keeping up with market trends. A gap year is a great time to participate in an internship or research project that will hone your skills for a career in the future. Without the mandatory requirements of school to hold you back, this is a year when you’re free to try something completely new and different. The added benefit is that when schools or employers see that you spent your gap year training in a particular field or industry voluntarily, they’ll be inclined to view you as a strong candidate for enrollment or work in the future.
2. Volunteer abroad and learn the language
Even if it’s just for a short period of time, volunteering abroad during your gap year is a good way to beef up your resume and gain some global perspective before you’re back to hitting the books. Learning what needs other people have, and how you can apply your skills and interests to the global market is a sure path to gaining academic and professional strength.
Additionally, working abroad can give you perspective on where you would someday like to build a career. More and more often, companies are encouraging employees to learn languages and work abroad as a way to expand businesses and affect change. Taking time to learn the language while you are in the heart of another country gives you added skills to take with you into job interviews when gap year comes to a close.
3. Continue to research schools and careers
Gap years are innately reflective, and therefore, it only benefits you to continue to research schools and careers that are out there when the year is done. This is the perfect time to weigh and compare your options. With plenty of time to think and explore, a gap year could be the meditative tool you need to find your way to landing a great position at the end of it all.
4. Apply yourself to applications in advance
Just because you’re not attending school or taking on a full-time job doesn’t mean you can’t apply for them. Branch out and apply for positions that interest you, or seem challenging. Participating in phone interviews during your gap year keeps your interview skills sharp and helps keep you focused on what you are hoping to accomplish in the future.
5. Set goals for the year to come
It’s easy to get lost in the excitement of a gap year. Usually, those twelve months are so drastically different from your daily routine of the past that it can be challenging to reel yourself back in when it comes time to focus on academics or full time work once more. To keep yourself motivated, make sure to keep a growing list of goals and aspirations for once your gap year is complete. Having a sense of what you are working towards will keep you on a straight line to success, and help you make decisions that apply to your field when it comes to securing internships, projects or volunteer opportunities.