Originally published in The Student newspaper.
For fourth years, the combination of endless deadlines, exams, graduation looming and finding a job often seems too much. Chances are that by this point, you’ve been in education for seventeen years.
Given this, it’s completely understandable to want a break before committing to a grad job. So many people leave university not knowing what they want to do – and taking time off can give you time to think before you invest time in applying for a job.
Unfortunately, if you think looking for grad jobs takes a lot of time, try organising and planning a whole year away – and saving for it too. Below are some recommendations to check out if you think you are interested in taking a post-graduation gap year.
Can’t afford to have a whole year of holiday? That’s fine and you’re certainly not alone. However, if you decide you don’t mind working for a while, you can live in some really cool places and be paid. Skiing seasons in the Alps and Japan are popular – as is au pairing (which you can do all over the world, by the way). Australia and New Zealand are popular destinations for Working Holidays – visas are relatively easy to come by for British citizens looking to work for a few months abroad. Look at websites like Work Away for ideas.
Internships and paid jobs
One of the main trepidations people have about going on a gap year is employability. While taking a year off is hardly going to negate your degree, it can still be a worry. If you want something to put on your CV after your gap year, why not consider doing an internship or getting a job?
Unfortunately, many internships abroad come with hefty price tags and aren’t paid. However, there are still some things out there. Generation UK-China is a British Council scheme for students in the UK looking for professional internships abroad. All of the fees are paid, as is accommodation – all you need to cover is your personal costs, like flights, visas, and food. The applications are now closed for 2019 in Scotland – however, they are still open for students at English universities. Regardless, you can apply for a place in 2020 if you meet the criteria.
Other than that, websites like SpainInternships and AIESEC have professional internships – some of which are paid, most of which offer accommodation. Spain internship covers internships in the UK, Spain, and Italy, while AIESEC has internships at start-ups and professional companies all over the world.
The British Council also run a scheme called IAESTE, where they help students from technical degrees get traineeships abroad so look at the website to check the criteria.
Cheap Destinations and Travel
While working abroad can be a great way to introduce yourself into a new culture, sometimes you just want a break. Many of us have spent the last few months – nay, years – dreaming of sandy beaches and £1 cocktails. But with many of us simultaneously deep in our over-drafts, this seems very unrealistic.
Do not fret! Cheap places do exist. South America is a great opportunity to soak up some sun and enjoy some culture. Most places are extremely cheap – and with such a diverse landscape, this continent has a lot to offer. Mountains, beaches, rainforest, deserts, salt-flats – it has it all. While flights are on the pricey side, living costs out there make the trip well worth it. For example, check out Peru or for somewhere even cheaper and less on the beaten track, Bolivia, its land-locked neighbour.
Finding a travel buddy can be hard. It’s difficult to convince someone to take the time and money to travel with you. For those not wanting to wait for a friend, solo travel is an excellent option. While Japan is not exactly the cheapest, its calm and welcoming culture mark it as a stand-out favourite among solo travellers.
Planning and executing the gap-year of your dreams may not be easy and is more than a little scary. Just remember: this year is for you. You may never get the chance to travel like this again. Further, you may also never be able to put yourself first in quite the same way. Set aside some time and get planning – a year of minimal stress and endless sunshine awaits!
Image: tranmautritam via Pixabay