Should you take a Gap Year after university?
Let us help you make the decision on whether you should take a gap year after university or not.
Not quite ready for the world of work? If you’re working out your options for after university, you might have considered a gap year. A little time off could be just what you need, but have you really covered all the bases when it comes to working out whether it’s for you?
It’s not a decision that you should take lightly, so to help you out, we’ve put together this handy guide. Whether you’re still not sure what you could do or just want to know about the pros and cons, it’s all covered here!
What are the benefits?
You could pursue your passion
Always wanted to travel the world? Want to make a difference by volunteering? It’s difficult to balance these things with work and study, so taking a little time out to put your heart and soul into it could be the ideal way to do what you really want to do.
It could help your career
Qualifications are one thing, but it’s skills and experience that will help you to beat off the competition when it comes to finding work.
Whether you want to spend some time travelling or just flexing your skills in a voluntary role, you’ll find that there’s plenty of potential for improving your CV.
It is true that some employers may look down on travelling but the majority will see it as a positive. You will have shown independence and the ability to plan among other things.
It gives you time to plan your next move
After uni, many graduates still aren’t quite sure what they want to do next. Instead of rushing into a career that you’re not sure if you really want, you might want to take a little time off and think about where you’d like to go.
It’s not wasted time if it helps you to gain focus and create a plan for the future.
What are the negatives?
It can be costly
Taking a gap year essentially means that you’re delaying your entry into the workplace. While your friends are starting to bring in salaries, you won’t necessarily be doing the same. And if you want to see the world or work for free, you’ll have to give some serious thought to where you’ll find the money.
You’re delaying your next move
Do you really want to put off starting your career? If you’re ambitious and just can’t wait to get into the world of work, taking a year out might not be for you.
Try to weigh up what you want to do more – take some time off, or get a foot on the career ladder.
The dream is sometimes better than the reality
When a lot of people think of gap years, they think of spending 12 months on a sunny beach, essentially living the dream. There’s no doubt that you’ll probably have a fantastic time, but be realistic.
You’ll need to fund your gap year, and that can be hard work. If you’re travelling alone, it can be lonely. Even volunteering jobs can turn sour. We don’t want to put you off, but make sure that you’ve considered all of these things.
What can you do in a gap year?
You won’t have much opportunity to trot the globe once you’re in a permanent job, so if it’s a long standing dream of yours, why not just go for it?
You could spend the year making your way through various locations, or pick just one base. You’ll probably need to fund this with some work, which could be anything from working in a bar to carrying out admin for local businesses.
If a particular charity is close to your heart, you might want to spend some time helping them out on a voluntary basis.
This comes with an immense amount of personal satisfaction, and you’ll pick up some skills that are transferable into graduate positions at the end of it.
Start a business
Some graduates decide to take some time out to try their hands at entrepreneurship. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re hard working and willing to put in buckets of effort, you could create yourself an enterprise that offers way more than traditional employment ever would.
This is a great option for recent graduates with no financial commitments who can afford to take a risk.
Pick n mix
If you want you can do a bit of everything. You might even want to take a gap 6 months as opposed to a full year. You could even live at home (if your parents are kind enough) for the first part of the year in order to save money for travelling.
How can you fund it?
Money is probably going to be one of your main concerns. If you’re a savvy saver, you might be able to put away a little cash from your student loan or part-time job to get you going.
Alternatively, you could work while you travel to cover the essentials. Whatever you decide, sit down and do the maths. There’ll be nothing more stressful than realising that you’re absolutely skint just a few months into your gap year!
How should you decide whether it’s right?
Unfortunately, no one can make that decision for you! It’s just a case of weighing up the pros and cons and deciding what’s the best option, in both the short and longer term.
Consider whether it’s realistic financially, and think objectively about how it will benefit you. Speak to friends and family, and other people who’ve taken a year out after uni. It’s not something that you should decide on a whim, so make sure you’ve thought long and hard before making any commitments.
Are you considering a gap year? Has this helped you to make your decision?