How to Find the Best Work for Your Gap Year

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Gap Years are a great opportunity to get to know yourself, and find out what truly makes you tick. You can use these months to prepare for college, and gain some experience for the years ahead. It’s good chance to try out different jobs, before you figure out what field suits and settle in.

If you’re looking to find work during your Gap Year, you should know beforehand what it is you want. It’s a good idea to make out a plan before your start your Gap Year. Bear in mind how much time you actually have, and whether or not you’re the type of person who needs a very well structured plan. Even if you think you don’t, it’s always useful to have a backup plan for every situation. Make out a list of options that seem appealing, and see what you would need to put them in practice. It might seem like tedious work right now, but it’s going to save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

If you find it difficult to make out a list of options yourself, you can go to a professional career advisor, or a Gap Year consultant. Gap Year consultants can help you plan out your year according to your goals. They can help you figure out the jobs you are qualified for, not just from the perspective of your skills, but your own personal wants. They can assist you in drawing up a list of abilities to highlight during your next job interview. Gap Year consultants can help you set up a plan for this whole period.

Volunteer

If you lack work experience, try adding some volunteer work to your resume. Volunteering can provide you with numerous benefits. It can be useful to make your resume stand out during interviews for paid jobs. Many universities are also interested in students who are proven to be proactive, and willing to gain experience. Through volunteer work, you can also meet a lot of interesting people that might help you find a job further down the line.

Develop Your Resume

When applying for a job, you’ll probably be asked to send in a CV. Don’t look at this as a mere formality. Spend some time learning how to write a proper resume. Don’t neglect your cover letter either. Since you probably don’t have a lot of work experience yet, your cover letter is the best way you can impress your prospective employer right now.

Consider an Internship

Internship programs offer a similar experience. Unlike volunteer work, internships can turn into an actual paid position, provided you can prove to your employer that you are qualified for the job, and you have what it takes to take on more difficult tasks. Some internships are paid, but most of the time you’ll still be unpaid. Look for internship programs that are aimed at students.

Temp Jobs

Going for temp jobs is a smart way of finding work during your Gap Year. Some recruiters might be reluctant to hire someone who is going to leave their job in a year. Temp positions are specifically designed when work overflow is just too much to handle, but not enough to warrant bringing on new employees.

Entry Level Jobs

If you want to maximize your chances of landing a paid job quickly, try finding an entry level position with a large company that usually needs a lot of employees. These companies are more likely to hire students for their, with little to no work experience. They generally offer training programs, so you don’t have to worry about your lack of skills in that particular field.

Develop Your Qualifications

You should also work on your qualifications during this period. Most employers require at least a high school diploma, so if you want to beat your competition, you’re going to have to do better than that. Getting a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification is a very popular way of finding job opportunities abroad. Other training opportunities, such as apprenticeships or traineeships, combine the benefits of a paid job with those of a training program.

Don’t Neglect Networking

Networking is a sound strategy to find job opportunities in general, not just during your Gap Year. Meeting people in informal settings can be a great way to make new friends, and casually mention that you are interested in finding work. However, the best way to meet new people and scout for job openings is going to career fairs. Bringing up work in informal settings might feel a bit awkward. Job fairs are specifically designed to bring recruiters and prospective employees together. Talking to recruiters one-on-one before an interview gives you an opportunity to ask for advice, and receive some guidelines from professionals. Preparing a list of questions for recruiters will prove to them that you are genuinely interested in finding a job.

Leverage Social Media

You can try following the pages, and Twitter accounts, of the companies you might be interested in. Subscribe to the newsletters of companies, and job application platforms, to be the first in line when a new job opening is announced. The sooner you submit your application, the better your chances of getting the job.

If you’re trying to meet new people in order to secure a job, you should keep your social media pages in order. Your employer might want to check your Facebook page, while looking you up, so you should keep it as professional as possible. Your e-mail address should look similarly professional.

Don’t Give Up!

One of the common mistakes students make when looking for a job is that they give up to soon. You should apply for a lot of jobs before you can hope to get picked. This process may take a while. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t land a job immediately.

Your Gap Year can be a wonderful experience that enhances your career path moving forward as long as a you keep an open mind, and your goals in sight.

Amanda Wilks is a Boston University graduate and a Contributing Editor at Job Application Center. She has a great interest in everything related to job-seeking, career-building, and entrepreneurship and loves helping people reach their true potential.

Photo Credit: Startup Stock Photos

Why a Passion for Learning is Your Best Gap Year Souvenir

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There’s that pair of comfy traveler pants – wild patterns with cinched waists and ankles. Or the prints of beautiful artwork made by a local you conversed briefly with. There’s the magnet for mom, the T-shirt for baby bro, and the precious charm bracelet you mentally commit to never losing.

While all of these mementos have value and – hopefully won’t end up in the bottom of a dusty box in the attic as their fate – there’s one incredibly powerful souvenir that your Gap Year will leave you with:

A rekindling of a love for learning. Here’s why.

Learning Won’t be Confined to Exams & Papers

At some point in our educations, learning became less about wonderment and more about proving memorization in the form of formal exams, homework, papers – you name it. Remember as kids when we would marvel at water systems at the museum? When we would make rainbows out of light refractions? When storybooks took us to enchanted lands?

We were learning – a ton – and not to prove to someone that we know what we’re doing. We were learning for the sake of learning, and that gets lost somewhere over time. We start to learn to prove to college admissions counselors we’re their next admit, we learn to get allowance and pocket money from mom and dad, we learn to pass grades and progress with our classmates.

Your Gap Year gives you time to throw those expectations out the window and learn for the hell-of-it. Because you want to. Because you’re curious. Because you’re exploring new passions. AWESOME.

Speaking of Passions – Let’s Identify Them

“Passion” is a buzzword amongst millennials, particularly on their journey to finding a career they find meaningful. If you’re passionate about your job – they say – you’ll never have to work a day in your life. But what does that even mean? What can that look like in your life? What are you even PASSIONATE about – besides breakfast tacos?

Use your Gap Year to find out. There’s no agenda, no set itinerary, no checklists to tick off. Tune into the topics, discussions, or activities that pique your interest. Follow that curiosity. Does a conversation on world religions make your eyes heavy? Maybe it’s not your calling. But does a conversation on animal rights or food security make your ears perk up? ← That’s a good sign. Find a book on the subject, find an expert on the subject to chat with, find some related Wikipedia holes to fall into – and dig deeper.

You’ll Discover Multiple Ways to Learn

Not to knock traditional schooling – some students really thrive in environments that are structured, with exams, and the like, to tangibly mark their progress. Other students find experiential learning is more impactful, and will forego the college-route in search of more hands-on learning experiences. Others still will take a meandering route of volunteering, internships, a commitment to reading, etc.

In short, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to learning. Your Gap Year will help you intimately learn what works for YOU. Try one, try ‘em all, make up your own combo. The beauty of this is that you can observe, absorb, reflect – for yourself and no one else.

Intellectual Curiosity is Sexy

Since we know one of your major sub-goals of your Gap Year is to become the most attractive mate possible (kidding), we want you to encourage you to come home with a love for learning. Truth be told, individuals that are gungho to learn EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING end up being some of the most interesting people you can cross paths with.

Being intellectually curious will help you succeed not only in your academic life, but also in your personal and professional lives. It means your brain is super absorbent – open to new perspectives, challenging narratives, confusing facts, astounding news stories – and is primed to digest all of the info its processing.

A Commitment to Learning Makes You a Stronger Global Leader

Think of the role models: presidents, prime ministers, priests, and influencers who are kind of stuck in a rut. They are clinging to old ways, refusing to adapt to evolving societal norms and developing cultural values.

While traditions are beautiful and certainly have worth, it is those leaders who remain adaptable (willing to learn something new) that tend to succeed in their missions in today’s world. Could this be you?

In the end, souvenirs can be fun, can be kitschy, can have meaning, can be beautiful. But the one we hope you carry with you closely, in your future post-Gap Year years, is a passion and a desire for learning itself.

Photo Credit: Ian Schneider

Gap Years in the Media

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In the wake of Malia Obama’s announcement, in May, that she intends to take a Gap Year, deferring her enrollment to Harvard until the fall of 2017, there has been an increase in media coverage around Gap Years and the students who take them.

Of course we’ve been tracking these stories, and today we’d like to share some of them with you. From personal stories of individual students taking a Gap Year, to how to best prepare and organize the logistics, to concept pieces surrounding why and how a Gap Year can be a good idea within certain educational tracks, there is a lot of buzz building.

Women Using the “Gap Year” to Close the Gender Gap

Dr. Gregory F. Malveaux is the author of Look Before Leaping: Risks, Liabilities and Repair of Study Abroad in Higher Education. In this article he focuses on the ways in which women are using the Gap Year to close the gender gap in STEM fields and then goes on to address some of the safety concerns that parents of girls often voice in sending young women abroad.

“The reality is that women are “leading” the new evolution in study abroad, pushing for more high-impact programs for career growth and marketability. This is true in “male dominant disciplines.” Women are taking gap years to gain currency and expertise in highly competitive fields. Study Abroad institutions and groups are heeding the call to meet their demand.”

Malia Obama is Taking a Gap Year Before Harvard: Here’s Why That’s a Great Idea

Jeremy Berke, for Business Insider, wrote:

“According to Robert Clagett, a former dean of admissions at Middlebury College and former senior admissions official at Harvard, students who take gap years, like Obama, “will frequently be more mature, more focused, and more aware of what they want to do with their college education” when they do enroll in college.

And data reflects his observations: At Middlebury, researchers found that students who took a gap year have shown a “clear pattern” of attaining higher GPA’s than those that didn’t take gap years, even controlling for the student’s performance in high school.

Beyond GPA, students experience positive results.

Gap years allow students a trial period — without schoolwork or the pressures of testing and deadlines — to figure out what they’re passionate about.”

We happen to agree! Read the whole article for more data and first hand experiences from Gap Year Students.

Should Your Child Do a Gap Year?

Psychology Today published a piece by Marty Nemko, Ph.D., that addresses the concerns that parents have when considering a Gap Year. He breaks down the reasons that it might be a very good idea to encourage a student towards a year of experiential education instead of pushing forward with an academic track.

“Even if your child’s first-choice college doesn’t offer a gap year, it still may be wise to do one. When your child applies again to college, if the gap time is being spent wisely, s/he’ll have an excellent chance of being readmitted. S/he will also have a better chance of being admitted to a more selective college. The latter is only sometimes a good idea: Some students are better off being a big fish in a less selective pond.”

6 Reasons You Should Take a Gap Year

Still on the fence about whether or not you should take a Gap Year? Go Abroad lays out six of the best reasons, from personal development to academic success, for taking that year “on.”

“To some people, gap years are synonymous with trust-fund kids lolling around on a beach, but they can be so much more! A gap year is not necessarily a “break” or a time off. It’s a time on, just on in a different way.

There is a lot that can be done with a gap year – volunteer, work, intern, travel, independent study, or all of them combined. You could take a gap year immersed in one community, or hop around the world. Choose a year long program, or create your own by mixing and matching opportunities.”

The Inherent Value in Gap Years for All Students, Not Just the 1%

Challenging the idea that only children of wealthy families can take advantage of the benefits a Gap Year affords, Julia Rogers discusses the value of Gap Years for all students and highlights some of the options for those of us who don’t have access to an unlimited bank account.

“I don’t believe it’s useful to try and pigeonhole the gap year concept as appropriate for only one type of student. Millennials face a vast array of challenges when entering adulthood that sometimes correlate with their socioeconomic status, but sometimes not. Rather, the gap year should be framed as an opportunity to creatively address the different challenges that students face in the year leading up to college.

For example, low income and first-generation college students can sometimes arrive at college academically unprepared and with additional stressors that unfortunately lead to high dropout rates. According to experts, creating access to support networks and developing life skills are known to improve retention and graduation rates. Promoting a fully-funded, mentored experiential program aimed at preparing students for college would undoubtedly lead to better outcomes for these students once they arrive on campus. There are already several programs in place that offer financial aid and fill this niche (such as Global Citizen Year, Dynamy Internship Year and Carpe Mundi).”

 

Photo Credit: Lionello DelPiccolo

What To Do When You’re Spending Too Much On Your Gap Year

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RUT-ROH. After months of careful budgeting and keeping a watchdog eye on your bank account, your beloved 4-digit balance dwindled into a 3-digit balance and is now a lowly 2-digit balance. You’re in the red zone, but with a little wave of your money wand you should be able to get out of this penny-pinch in no time.

Notice we didn’t say you’d be ramen or street-food free. You need to buckle down and treat each dollar like the hard-earned money it is – cutting corners whenever possible and sacrificing your indulgent treats for survival. You need to be savvy. You need to have benevolent friends. You need to be on top of it. Here’s how to get out of a financial pinch while on your Gap Year.

Don’t Let Your Bank Account Dwindle!

Before you travel on your Gap Year, make a pledge to yourself to keep a little nest egg – you don’t want to come home empty handed, right (otherwise how will you finance your binge-eating-marathons at your old favorite restaurants upon return?!). Commit to keeping at least $500 – yes, $500 minimum – in your bank account at all times. This can be an emergency fund that you can dip in (for emergencies ONLY) and a buffer space before your overdraft fees outweigh your dollars and cents.

Get a Credit Card

Ideally, you’ll be able to coordinate this prior to departing on your Gap Year. Your credit card doesn’t have to be your go-to payment resource, but they are handy to have in your back pocket if you run into troublesome waters. Remember to spend responsibly.

You can add your parents to your account if you know you’ll need a bit more accountability (spending habits are hard to curb when the cashflow is endless!). Make the minimum payment each month – at least – and don’t forget to remit payment on time to avoid late fees or unnecessary extra costs.

Find Creative Ways to Make Money

Depending on where you are spending your Gap Year, you may have a hard, or an easy, time getting work. If working as an American citizen is allowed, try to secure a lowstakes job in a friendly, relaxing, but still full-of-learning-opportunities environment. Opt for the local restaurants instead of the chain (to better practice your language skills, of course!) or try to score a part-time paid gig with the nonprofit you are volunteering at.

Find Creative Ways to Make Money Online

Another avenue for getting a paycheck is to seek remote jobs that are completed via the magic of the inter webs. If you have a knack for social media, love writing, or can teach English over Skype, you’re well on your way to having a desired skills set for many companies. Research forums online and sign up for remote job alert notifications. Popular online communities exist, such as this Facebook group, that are full of opportunities beckoning your name. Just make sure your resume is looking sharp!

Hammer Open That Virtual Piggy Bank

If you’re a bank-pro in the making, you probably have both a checking account AND a savings account. While your savings account should be all about delayed gratification, don’t feel (too) bad if you have to dip into your savings to make ends meet on your Gap Year.

Your future self won’t blame you too much (provided you use it on responsible purchases, not more tacky souvenirs) – especially if you realize that your Gap Year is an investment worth spending on.

Start a Fundraising Campaign

Use online crowdfunding platforms like FundMyTravel to make a couple extra bucks from your kindhearted friends and family. Don’t go overboard here – you’re not saving up money for shark diving or bungee jumping – don’t abuse their generosity. Instead, communicate clearly your intentions for spending the money on X, Y, or Z that is necessary to sustain your life abroad.

Hit up Mom, Dad, Grandma, etc.

This should be your very last resort, but it isn’t a bad option to consider – especially if you are up front about owning your relative lack of financial responsibility. Expressing what you’ve learned throughout the process of managing your own monies — including the hard work you put into budgeting and saving for your trip — while also committing to repaying the loan in full — might be just the ticket to convince your lovely-and-did-we-mention-so-wonderful beneficiaries/trip sponsors.

While it may never be possible to say “Bye Bye” to financial stress on your Gap Year (or, spoiler: ever in life), you do have a choice in how you respond. You can whine, pig out on cheap noodles, and blame others, or you can take ownership for the task at hand and get to work on resolving it. So it’s up to you: can you stomach another lukewarm styrofoam cup of food or no?

Photo Credit: Pexels

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