The decision to take a gap year is a big one and should be made after careful consideration. If done well a gap year can equip you with valuable experiences, any may even give you a clearer direction of the career path you want to pursue. If handled poorly you could waste a year getting apathetic in a dead end job or lose focus by getting caught up in reckless living.
There are many things you can do on a gap year. Whether you’ve decided to go travelling or you’ve got your sights set on full time for a year, you should take some time to work out what you want to get out of the year.
Lots of students choose to do extensive travel before you settle into full time study. Travel can be a wonderful eye-opening time and a lot of fun too. There’s nothing wrong with having a good time, but focusing solely on this can give you a false sense of achievement until you get back home and realize you’re no better off than when you left.
If you’ve decided to jump on the next plane out of your city when you finish year 12, think about incorporating some interesting work experience opportunities, if you have the right visa, and /or some worthwhile charity work can make a lot of difference to your year. Sight seeing tourist stuff is great, but doing some hard work in country will give you a sense of purpose and may give you some ideas for your future career.
If you want to take a gap year to work, may sure that you have some clear personal development goals for the year. Full time work in the right business will give you some great skills in time management, meeting deadlines, structure and can help you to develop a strong work ethic. If you find that your manager or supervisor has some skills, traits or work habits that you admire, consider asking them to mentor you. All of this personal development will help you with your studies if you decide to go to university and will hold you in good stead in your career.
You may have in mind engaging in a combination of part-time or casual work as well as internships and volunteer work. Again having specific goals are very important for keeping you on track. With internships be sure to research your options well and keep an open mind with the position you secure. The goal is to get experience in an industry you may be interested in working in. Companies typically give interns all the menial jobs, so make sure you take a positive attitude and use your time to make a good impression and ask lots of questions if you have the opportunity.
There is also the option of using your gap year to work hard and save money for your study expenses or some other big financial goals. If you decide to go down this route be sure to make your financial goals clear and work out a budget that will help you to get there. It’s also helpful to have someone, your parents or someone else that you respect keep you accountable to your goals. Give yourself some milestones to keep yourself on track and celebrate by treating yourself to something nice each time to achieve a milestone financial figure on the way to your goal.