Updated: Nov 27, 2019
Exams are winding down now for most students in the state and many of you would understandably be considering taking a Gap year. For those who are unaware, a Gap year is a period between studies where a student would take a break to pursue new experiences and seek learning outside of the classroom walls.
It is become widely recognised that many of those who choose to undertake a Gap year yield positive feedback on both how they spent their year and what they managed to achieve. For some, it became a chance to reset their brain, for others it was to change their direction in life and for most, a year where new experiences were made.
Whatever it may be, a gap year is by no means a 'waste of time'.
Travel! Experience the world!
The most obvious choice on this list. After at least 13 years of study, we can all understand the need (and want!) for a break and what better way to enjoy that break than seeing the world! Whether it be with a group of friends or just travelling by yourself meeting new and interesting people on the way, travelling abroad is without a doubt a must for those taking a gap year!
This should be especially appealing to individuals who are unsure of what career path they want to take. Interactions with people who grew up in different environments open you up to so much of the world. If you haven't discovered what your passion is yet, I can assure you that attempting to find it abroad will be nothing but beneficial.
"Oh but it's so costly". Fun fact, travelling is not as expensive as you think (you may have to cut some luxury expenses though). Whether it be living on a budget or joining a 'Gap Year program' supporting funds to travel, there are many ways you can break free from the grips of Melbourne society and expand your experiences.
Improve your employability whilst enjoying a well-deserved break? Surely this can't be true?! The fact of the matter is, employers nowadays hire based on experience over anything else. As a University student myself and having had a large chunk of time spent working as a full-time Law Clerk, the same sentence rang through my ears from seasoned employers in high ranking law firms.
"We prioritise potential employees in this order... experience, the university they attend and finally, their results".
To make the gap year even more appealing, internships can range from full-time commitment to one or two days a week. This would all be dependent on both the area of work you choose to intern in, as well as the workplace requirements you commit to.
So on that note, I strongly advise that regardless of whether you are on a gap year or not, taking up an internship opportunity is a must!
3. Work for a social cause / community event
Possibly one of the most enlightening and eye-opening experiences on this list. Working at your local community events or charity can be monumental in both personal growth and career paths.
Volunteering at charities or events can take many forms, from teaching dance at your local school to feeding the homeless once or twice a week. To supplement this, working at charities and events are highlighted by employers
Want to achieve more for both personal growth and worldwide impact? Volunteering abroad is not only an option to pursue, but also supported by many worldwide charities! Volunteering abroad is perfect ato help you to find purpose and gain fulfilment.
Contributing to society offers a chance to learn more about international development and improve advocacy surrounding the area you are working in. Seeing practical applications of solutions and research will give you a deeper understanding of the social cause and highlight the ways in which you can action change.
4. Start your own business
For Individuals who are more business inclined, starting your own business could be the perfect experience during your gap year. Whether it be a low cost start up supplying simple goods and services to your local community or trying high ticket ventures to nation-wide customers, there is never a better time in contemporary society to work for yourself.
We are coming to the age now where online businesses are propelling themselves into success by merely having listings on Amazon, Gumtree and Ebay - which a decade ago would have been unheard of and remarkable.
For those who believe in starting your own business whilst committing to school, I say fair play - If you are prepared for the challenge and the long hours, there isn't a thing that can stop you. However, it is imperative when starting up your own business to recognise the importance of getting into a constant business mindset. This is made easy during a gap year given the availability of direction and time.
The idea of freedom is what sparks the passion of many promising entrepreneurs.
5. Read more, Learn More
"Read Read Read" - William Faulkner
Personally, I am a strong advocate of reading. To have such a diverse source of knowledge that is accessible from not only book stores and the local library but the internet and E-books is incredible. Contemporary society has really gifted us with accessibility that history has never provided.
It is said that one of the best ways to learn is to listen to someone who has experienced it all before. Books are the easiest, cheapest and most effective way to do this. At the end of the day, the authors are speaking from past experiences and offering the perfect pathway for your growth.
To add to the effectiveness of books, every genre possible has a wide range of books to learn off. Meaning whether you are business, social or even environmental inclined, there are hundreds of books just waiting to be read!
6. Learn a new language
One of the hardest but most admirable things about a person is their ability to understand and communicate in multiple languages. Not only is this extremely impressive to employers but the ability to learn different languages shows a unique ability to understand culture. The effectiveness of such communication is unique to only a few number of individuals.
So removing any doubt that learning a language is immensely beneficial for employment, lets talk about the other benefits. Studies (such as one from the University of Chicago) has made findings that learning a foreign language can improve an individuals decision making skills, memory, attention to detail and overall persistence!
In today's globalised world, speaking multiple languages speaks volumes about yourself and your employability. It is widely recognised as a hard feat to achieve and justly so comes with immense recognition
7. Get Fit
Let's be honest, 'getting fit' and in healthy condition isn't going to take up your whole year. So why bring this up on the things to do in your gap year along the likes of working for a social cause and starting your own business? Because there is no supplementary activity that is more important than helping yourself not only to achieve a goal to the greatest of your ability, but to continue doing so.
Year 12, or studying in general likely had you hidden in a low lit room reading 'Physics 101' endlessly trying to cover all the areas that may arise in an exam. In turn, this probably led to some bad eating habits (i'm looking at you chocolate) and even a lack of exercise.
Maybe a gap year is the call you need to get out, join a gym and start learning the realms of the fitness industry. The amount of knowledge to be learnt from the fitness industry is insurmountable compared to many other fields and everything from diet to exercise is vitally important
8. Master a new skill
It is commonly understood that being great at one thing is more effective at helping you succeed than being average at 10 things.
Even graduates who already have a career goal in mind decide against heading straight into their desired university course because of the experiences that await them in their one year off. A gap year will offer graduates useful skills and knowledge, even if they’re not directly related to the desired future career. So, if you’ve always wanted to learn how to survive in the wilderness, explore South America, work at a ski lodge, etc., this is the time to do those things.
You also never know where the future may lead you too. Although you may not think these experiences will impact your career, you still may end up using some of those skills in future jobs.
The main takeaway that students would want to take away from this blog is... enjoy your time during your gap year. Have fun whilst learning life lessons and skills. A gap year is a fantastic way to grow into that successful career you desire.
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