With May quickly approaching, you’re probably shrinking back from panic at the idea of graduating and getting a job in the real world. Or maybe you’re reading from your cubicle right now, passing time (slowly) at a job you hate in an industry you’re bored with.
First, these feelings are totally normal in either case. Second, if you want to postpone or take a break from the working world, there are options.
The gap year is a phenomenon that has only recently taken off in the United States, though it has been practiced and encouraged in countries all over the world for decades now. Initially, the idea of the gap year was marketed toward high school students desiring a break before college, but now, recent graduate, grad students and working adults of all ages can take advantage through structured gap year programs.
What’s especially nice about structured programs is that they provide an outlet for adults to take time away from the everyday responsibilities of a job without compromising on doing something with their life. Simply quitting your job with nothing to show for it will never impress potential employers, but taking a year off to teach in Tanzania or work in an orphanage in Thailand will definitely get noticed by your future boss.
Furthermore, a gap year is flexible. You could teach English in Japan for three months, volunteer with the Yakota Tribe in South Dakota for two months and then study Italian in Italy for six months. It could last as long or as little as you like. There are plenty of volunteer programs that last a week or two, in the event that your life doesn’t need a major change but just a small break.
Whatever your decision, there are options, and the idea of taking a break before or during work is a growing trend across the US. Telling your future employers that you took time off between school and work to volunteer at an orphanage in Nepal for a few months will just make great conversation during your interviews. And future employers will respect an employee who is willing to take risks and think outside of the box, especially when it comes to their own lives.
To learn more about gap year or volunteer programs for recent college graduates, grad students and working adults, check out these organizations.
The Center for Interim Programs, LLC
Global Volunteer Network
What do you think of a gap year? Would you do it?