Gap Years and Voluntary Experience
Around a quarter of a million people take a gap year. This time should not be used as an excuse to take things easy – trying to explain this gap to a potential employer when you weren’t doing anything worthwhile may be hard to explain.
Many people think that only recent students take gap years – this is not true. You can take a gap year at any age!
What could I do during a gap year?
- Travel / work / live abroad – remember to organise any necessary Visas (around £150), vaccinations (around £50) and travel insurance.
- Teach English overseas – gain experience of different cultures.
- Participate in community voluntary projects – meet new people and gain networking contacts.
- Learn a language.
- Gain work experience and test out a potential career.
- Coach sports.
What are the benefits of taking a gap year?
- It has been reported that if you take a gap year, you’re less likely to drop out of University. Students who take a gap year are also looked upon as being more mature.
Also, many recruiters prefer candidates who have gained “life skills” through travel, voluntary experience or employment rather than relying solely on their qualifications.
- If you’ve used the year to gain employment experience, make sure you highlight to recruiters the skills you’ve gained from this and how they will assist you in your chosen
career. Contact us for further advice with regards to this.
Are there any disadvantages of taking a gap year?
- Gap years can be expensive and you could get into debt through bad planning.
- You may find it hard to get back into a working / studying routine after a year out.
- Not all gap years are spent productively – try and do something original which will stand out and assist you in building your CV.
Voluntary Work Experience
Participating in voluntary experience will not only provide you with an opportunity to add skills and experience to your CV, but it allow you to meet new friends, gain experience in areas you would not have normally worked and demonstrates to a future employer that you are willing to fully dedicate yourself to a role.
- Develop confidence while completing a variety of challenges.
- Gain invaluable networking contacts.
- Further your skills through workplace training.
- “Test out” potential career opportunities.
- Meet new and interesting people from different cultures / backgrounds.
- Make best use of a gap year.
Where can I find voluntary work?
Obviously, one of the easiest ways is to search online – there are many useful websites offering advice and links to voluntary placements (including https://www.do-it.org.uk). However, you could also:
- Approach companies directly.
- Look out for newspaper advertisements.
- Ask your current employer.
- Contact Citizens Advice Bureau.
- Contact The Samaritans.
What happens when I apply to become a volunteer?
Getting a voluntary role is pretty much the same as a paid job. You will usually complete application forms and will be requested to attend an interview. This will provide you with an ideal opportunity to hone your skills in these areas which will be useful for the future.