Students in their final year who haven’t yet secured a graduate job often wonder what they should do next.One dilemma is whether they should do a year-long placement or head abroad and discover more of the world. There are advantages to both, but if you’re leaning more towards a gap year, these tips may help you with your decision.
Not everyone is suited to long-term travel. Just because you all spent one evening in the student union planning a dream trip around the world, doesn’t mean that you should book the first trip that comes to mind. Think about what you would like to do and your reasons for doing it, don’t just go because your friends are going
Going away on a gap year is a big decision and it depends on many factors, of which finances tend to be the main stumbling block. Although parts of the world have lower living costs, chances are you won’t make any money, and the average gap year costs around £4,000. You need to bear in mind that you probably won’t actually travel for the year, as you’ll need to work to save the money.
What do you want to achieve?
You don’t just want to sit on the beach for half a year. Sure, you’ll have a great tan, but once that fades you’ll still have to find a job. Most employers aren’t looking for adventurers, but people who have transferable skills that can be used every day in the workplace. It could be that you want to consolidate your language skills with a Spanish course in Costa Rica, or study in sunnier weather. A year off isn’t going to impress any graduate employer if it doesn’t have a point.
One of the best ways to travel and gain some great skills is to volunteer during your gap year. There are plenty of formal schemes that you could get involved with, as well as smaller local organisations that you could give your time to. Many graduates teach, or work with a charity. It doesn’t offer quite as many useful skills as a placement year, but it does give your year abroad meaning and can be useful for your graduate job applications.
There are plenty of advantages to doing a gap year, but if you think you may be better suited to a work placement, then Enterprise offer internships that last up to a year around the UK, where you’ll start picking up plenty of useful skills.