The benefits of taking a Gap Year can be huge IF you are focused, organised and, occasionally, intrepid.
An estimated 50,000 people take a Gap Year before going on to Uni. The ‘brave’ ones often elect to do voluntary work overseas via a reputable voluntary organisation. This experience takes them well out of their comfort zone but they see the world, make great friends and develop those ESSENTIAL skills all employers look for, such as planning and organising, adapting to change, teamwork and leadership. This type of experience will be great to draw on in future interviews and CVs. GSK, the global pharmaceutical giant, publicly endorse the value of voluntary work overseas for any prospective candidates as it enhances the ‘behavioural competencies’ they seek in their applicants.
Note of caution: if you would like to go down this route, make sure you sign up with a reputable voluntary organisation. It will cost you to have this experience, often around £2,500 but it will be a unique adventure and a chance in a life time to give something back. The adventure can last from 10 weeks to a whole year. The choice is yours. Don’t be put off by the cost. There are ways to get sponsorship, raise money etc – see link below – 5 Tips for an Ethical Gap Year.
One such reputable voluntary organisation is Lattitude. Here are some links to learn more about what they do and where they go:
Another route to a valuable Gap Year is a business placement. The benefits are, again, huge. Some employers view their Gap Programme as an important graduate recruitment resource. If you do really well on your placement, you like the job, the employer likes you, you may be offered a sponsored degree whereby Mr Employer pays for your tuition fees (and sometimes accommodation as well). You’ll also be offered further work placements with the company throughout your studies, keeping your technical knowledge up to date and putting into practice all the theory you’ve been learning in books. At the end of your studies, subject to satisfactory passing of exams etc, you will be well placed to get a permanent job offer.
Gap Year placements are most frequently offered within the Banking/Finance sector so if this industry is on your career hit list, do your research. There is a lot of opportunity out there but much of it may necessitate a daily commute into London. For 6 months or so this is a sacrifice well worth making. Some examples of placements are below:
Increasingly, employers look beyond academic achievement. A productive Gap Year which can combine work, play and travel will be a huge asset to your employability.