Planning A Gap Year
So, I graduate this year. Yikes… An entire earlier than I thought I would be when I started (see my post on turning down my year abroad).
Not only do I graduate this year, but I’m pretty lost in terms of what I want to do next. I know my values, and I want to work somewhere that matches them, but beyond that, I’m not sure. And that’s okay. Not knowing what to do after graduating needs to be normalised.
As well as being uncertain of what comes next, I haven’t wanted to apply for loads of graduate jobs and schemes and risk distracting myself from my degree and sacrificing my grades.
So here I am, at the end of my degree, planning a post-grad gap year! I’m nervous for sure, I’m so used to having the next logical step laid out in front of me, but I’m sure it’ll be an adventure! I’m going to outline some pros and cons of taking a gap year, either before or after university, and share some of my plans for my gap year. I hope that this will be helpful for anyone finding themselves in a similar position.
It’s important to consider the real reasons for wanting to take a gap year, and if you think it will genuinely benefit you, you’re the only one that can decide that. Working this out will mean you can set goals and make plans, ensuring that your gap year will be productive. Here are some possible reasons to take a year out:
- Taking a break from study.
- Gaining new skills and experiences.
- Earn money.
- Spend time deciding what you want to do and doing what makes you happy.
- All of the above!
Pros: taking a break and decompressing after being in education for so long; a productive gap year can add valuable experience to your CV; take time to earn and save for higher education or travel; you can take time to mature if you don’t feel ready to take on work or further study yet.
Cons: taking a gap year could distract from your long term goals; a lack of structure and planning might not add any value; it could be an expensive year and leave you in a worse financial position than before; it can be hard to return to work or education after a long time off.
Take a look at this advice from UCAS for more information on planning a great gap year.
So now you have some pros and cons, and reasons for taking a gap year. It’s time for me to share my plans in the hopes it will give you some inspiration. Many of these plans are pandemic dependent, but I feel confident that I can get started on this at some point this year.
Okay, I know that I just said that a gap year can be a good time to take a step away from education, which remains true. But it can be a great time to invest time into learning things outside of academics, developing new skills, and exploring aspects of the sectors you may want to work in.
Some examples of things that I want to learn are British Sign Language and mental health first aid. These are things that I’ve been interested in for a while but haven’t had the time to invest in. I’m also hoping to take some online courses in things like creative writing, leadership and management, and marketing. Learning languages is also a great thing to do! I’ve been learning a variety of languages on and off for a while now, but I plan on properly investing in learning one foreign language so that I can at least be slightly competent.
Volunteer or Work
A gap year is a great time to invest in causes that are close to your heart, or explore the sectors that you’re interested in getting into through work experience or internships.
I’m hoping to volunteer for Shout Crisis Line for the foreseeable once my application has been processed, as providing mental health support is something I’m hugely passionate about (hence the previously mentioned mental health first aid). Beyond that, I hope to volunteer for my local homeless charity and Girl Guiding once COVID allows. Take a look at your values and the causes that mean a lot to you and see if there’s a way you can volunteer!
In terms of work experience and internships, a great place to start is the Warwick Internship Programme (WIP). These are internships exclusively available for Warwick students, working with SMEs, charities, and university departments. I would also highly recommend Think Pacific’s Virtual Internship and Tubu programme, and Bright Network Internship Experience UK, both of which I completed last summer. They both provide great opportunities to investigate different sectors to see what excites you and gives you purpose. Let me know if you have any questions about either experience, and I’ll do my best to help.
This is probably the most COVID dependent goal, but I’m so keen to travel again after this pandemic. And apparently, I don’t do things by halves because I plan to go to Australia next year! It’s a goal I set myself last spring in the height of Lockdown 1.0, and I’ve been saving ever since. Of course, going to Australia is a big investment of time and money, hence going in a gap year with no work responsibilities. But I also want to visit more European cities – there are so many beautiful places to visit literally on our doorstep, and I can’t wait to explore. I recently discovered a company that organises au pairing, working holidays, and overseas volunteering, so there are plenty of opportunities and ways to travel once it’s safe to do so, of course.
A gap year is a great time to get stuck into old hobbies or start new ones. I’ve thoroughly neglected my reading in my final year since it’s what I’m spending my entire degree doing, but I’m looking forward to having more free time to read the many unread books on my shelves. I’d also like to dabble in some creative writing! It’s out of my comfort zone, but that’s what makes it so great, right? What’s the worst that could happen?
I’d also love to get into baking. Food is a massive comfort to me, and I do feel somewhat uneasy about my gap year, with many of my friends from home still being at uni or moving away. I think a weekly baking session will really give me something to look forward to and bring me a lot of happiness!
No matter how keen I am to get my own place and settle down, without a job and a lot of time saving, that’s not happening anytime soon. So my next goal is probably the next best thing (and possibly a bit niche). But I want to rearrange and redecorate my childhood bedroom that I’ll be staying in for the foreseeable. I last decorated when I was 13, so I’ve pretty much outgrown it, and I’d love to make it my happy place that I want to spend lots of time in. Maybe if you also feel frustrated at being at home longer than you thought, refreshing your space is just what you need (of course, I do recognise how privileged I am to have a safe, happy, welcoming home to say in as long as I need, I know others aren’t that fortunate).
So, there you have it, my advice and plans for taking a gap year! I hope that this has been helpful to some people or satiated the curiosity of others. Give me a shout if you have any questions.
Until next time,