Taking time out after your degree course can give you a chance to further develop your skills, as well as pursuing opportunities like travel and work in a different country. What you choose to do with a year out will depend on what you want to get out of the experience – as with many elements of career development, advance planning is recommended.

Taking a year out

Reasons to consider a year out :

  • To earn some money and/or pay off any debts
  • To travel the world and see different places
  • To gain some relevant work experience
  • To take a break from studying
  • To do something different before beginning a permanent job
  • To help you decide on a particular career

What you could do on a year out:

  • Independent travel
  • Volunteering work with charities
  • Working in a different country
  • Teaching English as a Foreign Language
  • Work experience for insight into a particular career
  • Attending a language course abroad

Things to think about include:

  • What do you want to gain from your time out? E.g. skills, work experience, travel, volunteering?
  • Give yourself enough time to research what is available. Application processes can take several months, and you may also need to prepare travel documents or pre-employment checks before you start.
  • If you plan to join a course or graduate level employment after your year out, you will need to check your plans tie in with recruitment processes or application deadlines for these opportunities. For example, will you be able to attend interviews if you are not in the country?
  • Is it possible to apply in advance and negotiate deferred entry to a course or job? This is sometimes possible with larger companies who regularly recruit graduates, but you will need to find out before you finalise plans.

What do employers think?

A gap year might help you to develop new skills you haven’t had chance to explore before, or give you opportunities to demonstrate initiative and resourcefulness – all these things could be appealing to a future employer.

Regardless of what you use your gap year for, it is vital you can ‘sell’ this experience on an application form or CV. You will need to be clear about what you have gained and be able to reflect on what you learned from the experience. Our pages on Application forms explain this in more detail.

Keeping notes about what you’ve learned as you go through the year can also be useful to refer to.

Resources:

  • See our page on Finding year out opportunities - with links to websites for searching for opportunities and an A-Z of organisers to do more research into.
  • The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office gives the latest specific travel advice, which is worth checking before you make firm plans for travel.
  • The country profiles on the Prospects website will give you an overview  of temporary work opportunities, visa requirements and other useful information for more than 50 countries. 
  • Objective is a resource that provides travel safety courses for gap year students. 
  • Caroline's Rainbow Foundation is a registered UK charity, promoting personal safety amongst young travellers, gap year students and backpackers.