What career skills can I develop on a gap year?
If you're considering a gap year, it helps to ask yourself what sort of advantage a gap year could have on your personal development - and also whether it might improve your CV at the end of it.
Any employer will be impressed with a CV that manages to show experiences gained and opportunities taken. When you haven't yet had much time to gain professional experience, it could be the thing that marks you out from all the other candidates.
You may know exactly what sort you want to take, but whether you do or you don't, it always helps to talk to other people who've done one.
Most specialist travel companies will offer exciting trips and experiences to choose from and will even give you a gap year toolkit to help you with the decision making process.
A gap year can be as much about testing your limits as well as giving you an incredible experience. It can open your eyes to what you're capable of, increase your confidence and fill you with inspiration for what you can and want to achieve!
From helping communities to conservation to personal development you'll discover that the list is almost endless. Here are some of the more popular types of gap year experiences:
- Learning a language in situ
- Conservational volunteering work
- Building homes for families in Vietnam
- Taking on gorillas and community work in East Africa
- Teaching English in Peru
- Community work in India
- Working in an elephant sanctuary in Sri Lanka
- Community educational work in Tanzania
- Working with lions in South Africa
You may be wondering how giving an elephant a bath might help you be an effective employee, but whatever you end up doing, the transferrable skills you will gain are vast.
Language skills are invaluable in a modern workplace, as are project planning, logistics, organisation, analysis and budgeting. Practically everything you do on your gap year can be considered a skill, presuming you spin it in the right way.
If you have a career in mind when you get back it might be worth thinking of the activities you can do that will give you certain skills. If you're going for a sales career then you might want to find an activity that will give you experience in conflict management and persuasion, or if you're going for a healthcare role you might try to learn more about compassion and social issues.
Your willingness to get involved and take responsibility shows a wider concern for issues that will tell the employer a good deal about you and your qualities.
In an increasingly competitive job marketplace, the qualities and attributes you have demonstrated on your gap year will be just as important to an employer as your actual qualifications.