Taking time out after your degree course can give you a chance to further develop your skills, as well as giving you the opportunity perhaps to travel and work in a different country. There are hundreds of things which you can do during a year out and what you choose will depend, amongst other things, on what you what to get out the experience. You can also combine activities, for example, a temporary job to raise some money, followed by some travelling and a period of voluntary work. 

Taking a year out

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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
Africa

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

Planning ahead

Taking some time to think about how your time out will fit into to your longer term career ideas can be very important. Things to think about include:

  • What do you want to gain from your time out? There are lots of possible options and you will need to allow enough time to research what’s available. Sometimes it can take several months for applications to pair with the time that you can do
  • If you hope to proceed onto a course or into graduate level employment after your ‘gap year’, then you will need to check out the timing of recruitment and how you might be able to make applications and attend interviews if you are not going to be in the country
  • Is it possible to apply in advance and then negotiate a deferred entry to a course or job? It is sometimes possible to defer entry with larger companies who regularly recruit graduates, but you will need to find out the views of organisations for whom you would like to work. Some employers may have starting points spread throughout the year

What do employers think?

How do future employers view those who take time out? A gap year may help you in the job market by providing you with the opportunity to develop new skills and give you opportunities to demonstrate initiative and resourcefulness. It is vital though that you are able to ‘sell’ this experience on an application form or CV when you begin to make applications. You will need to be clear about what you have gained and be able to reflect on what you learned from the experience. Consider keeping a work experience tracker [pdf] to refer back 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 and Commonwealth Office - gives the latest specific travel advice
  • The country profiles on the Graduate Prospects website will give you an overview  of temporary work opportunities, visa requirements and other useful information for more than 50 countries
  • Objective - provides travel safety courses for gap year students
  • Caroline's Rainbow Foundation - a registered UK charity, promoting personal safety amongst young travellers, gap year students and backpackers
  • Careers Information Room - in the Careers Service, you’ll find the following information files and reference books:
    • Work abroad - reference files and books on various countries
    • Working in development/for a charity - reference files, books and directories on working for non-profit organisations both in the UK and abroad
    • Exploring further study - resources to help you, and short courses/temporary jobs around the world