Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

With exam results so recently published there will be thousands of people considering gap year opportunities, university placements and new employment opportunities.

Traditionally a ‘gap year’ was a period of time taken by students between school and going on to further studies. Although this is still the case, graduates and older people wanting career breaks face the same dilemma about if, or when, to take time out.

There are many reasons for taking a gap year; one that involves travel and perhaps volunteering. A meaningful adventure:

  • A desire to experience life and broaden horizons
  • To embrace adventures and encounter challenges; those that simply can’t be experienced by staying at home
  • To learn a new skill
  • To discover a new culture
  • Personal achievement, personal development and personal discovery, preferably by helping others
  • To simply take time out from the timetables of study or work – press the ‘reset’ button
  • Giving something to those less fortunate than ourselves

Whether you want to learn a new skill, raise your cultural awareness or buy yourself some thinking time before making the next move, a gap year could be the answer.

It’s important to have some sort of goal and work out in advance what you wish to achieve from your time away. Think about the type of skills that might be useful to future employers. If you don’t know then you might explore different ideas and obtain a taste for something that might interest you, or just as importantly find out what you don’t enjoy.

By trying different things, succeeding in some and failing in others, you will inevitably hone your transferable skills, which you can draw upon in future interviews. By having new experiences to refer to and reflecting on your learning along the way, you will give yourself more to talk about and your answers will be unique and refreshing for your interviewers.

A gap year isn’t for everyone, but providing it’s properly thought out and more meaningful than just sitting on a beach, it is hard to think of any disadvantages. If it’s taken before university it will freshen your mind after a life of schooling. If it’s post university it will add something of interest to your CV and if you take it as a career break it will give you new energy and a new found wisdom that can only be obtained by addressing new challenges.

Should I stay or should I go now?

If I go there will be trouble.

And if I stay there will be double.

                                                     The Clash