Year off?

So you’ve done it! With diploma in hand, the last four years seem to have flown and life sparkles with the fizz of graduation celebrations (and the champagne that goes with them). There’s constant chatter about people’s plans for the great beyond (that place where essays, exams and summer vacations are a thing of the past) but, for many, this can be overwhelming. Maybe you didn’t land the dream job you were hoping for. Perhaps you want to branch out in to a new field but are struggling to find a break. You may even feel like the world of work is a place that you don’t want to be just yet. If one of the above applies to you, then maybe what’s a change of direction and perspective. Think that gap years are more for the backpacking tweenie bopper than any self-respecting adult? Well think again – a smart girl’s gap year could open more doors than you could imagine.

The sad fact is there are a million and one graduates with respectable grades leaving university every year. Your grades alone don’t guarantee a thing – you need something to help you stand out from the crowd.

Gap years give transferrable skills. Let’s take the example of teaching English overseas. Classroom management gives you leadership skills and dealing with children tests adaptability and an ability to think on your feet. The rewarding nature of the work and the fact you’ll do more than your fair share of public speaking adds to your confidence. Add to that the resilience it takes to live in a foreign country and living in a foreign language environment and you can see how such an experience would help you grow both professionally and personally.

If you’re thinking of moving in to a new field or aren’t sure if your chosen path is the one for you, a gap year can help you test the water while gaining relevant experience. This can go one of two ways. 1. You love it and the experience you’ve gained shows a commitment that goes above and beyond or 2. You don’t like it, but you’ll have saved yourself more tears later on or that dreaded ‘What if?’ if you’d never tried at all.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, a gap year could give you a clean break. University is a stressful time and the pressure it puts on people isn’t to be underestimated. Distance and headspace can help make the transition from frazzled student to an adult with direction and renewed purpose.

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