Do you ever think about taking a gap year? Are you scared that doing this will look bad in your CV or your Career? If you are thinking about it, what is holding you back?
Yesterday, it was my 35 birthday, and I am in San Diego, I want to share my gap year experience ten years ago, precisely in the same spot!
If you have been reading my blogs or following me on Instagram, probably you already know this. I started my career being an Accountant and Office Manager. That was my first career choice when I was 18 years old.
I worked in the same enterprise for four years right after my studies, and I was extremely bored. Soon I’ve outgrowth my role as an accountant, and I started to be the Office Manager too, but even with that promotion, I wasn’t happy or fulfilled.
I departed in May of 2011, but I start preparing all this gap year in 2010. Here is when I always come to planning and strategy to succeed in anything I do.
The first thing is to analyse and question yourself! I leave you here four questions that, for me, were helpful:
- What do you want to achieve from a gap year?
- How much time can you be away and when?
- What are the options available?
- How much money do you need?
The most common replies to the first questions are the following:
- Have a break.
- Figure out what do you want to do.
- Gain skills/experience
- All the above
In my case was because I was sure that I wanted to change my career, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And to learn English at an advanced level so that I could have more opportunities professionally in Spain.
I knew that I wanted to be a year out there. In my case, funds were no issue; I will go to that when we arrive at the last question. So I knew I wanted to be out for a year.
You will need to assess, depending on funding, and how long you want to be out.
The options available are several; for me, it was indisputable because, at that time, I had a long-distance relationship with someone from San Diego, whom I’ve met three years before my gap year. I have been travelling there often, and I love it.
In your case, you can decide to do it by yourself. Look up some city you love, and see the options there, or you have several agencies offering the whole package anywhere in the world. They organise everything for you, and you do not need to worry about anything.
And then the most critical question is the funding.
So once I decided to do it in 2010, it starts my planning ( this is my personal history, so I will explain what I did, with the resources I had to use ). Everyone will need to plan according to their sources.
- The first thing I did was speak with my enterprise to let them know my plans and agree with them to make it look like they fire me to benefit from Unemployment. In Spain, if you have a good relationship with the enterprise, you can do it. They agreed, and I worked there for a long time, so my total unemployment length will be 24 months.
- I got a house on the property, so I look for someone to rent it out. Meanwhile, I was in the US.
In my case, I haven’t got any savings, so this is what I use to fund my gap year. But you can use savings to replace this. I would recommend saving up for one year or one year and a half. That will depend as well on your gap year destination and how much it will cost.
Now that I told you about the logistics, I gave you some tips to strategically plan your gap year. I will tell you how mine didn’t harm my career, but it launched my career.
My goal to extract from that gap year was to learn another language to proficiency level and figure out a possible career change trying new things. So, my idea was to work on it all at once; I sign up for volunteer jobs. If your case is that you need to help with the funding, and you go to a country where you have a visa to work (it was not my case), you can try to look for a part-time job mixing with a volunteer.
I volunteer first at the donations department in the American Red Cross; the tsunami in Japan just happened, so I was helping login the donations in the system and answer emails at the donations department. I was there for four months, but right away, I felt it was very similar to what I was doing in Spain, so help me a lot, know amazing people, and practice my English, but I was speaking very good. Still, it was not helping my other goal, finding what I wanted to do.
So, I started looking for other places to volunteer; now, I wasn’t looking for anything specific, as I didn’t know what I wanted. I was browsing to see availability and see what appeals the most to me. And I took it! I found a volunteer spot in a popular hotel in San Diego to work in the back office. I like the idea, so I took it!
This volunteer experience opened my eyes; I love the mix of admin tasks, customer service, and helping people on their vacation time; I found it fabulous! After that volunteer experience, I decided that I wanted to change my career to the Travel Industry.
I haven’t done any inner-work; it was aligned with my values? The answer is yes because I was passionate about travel, adventure, and the discovery of new things at that moment in time. It was my purpose, no!
I am going back to the first questions of this blog post! If a gap year is planned correctly, in the way I stated above, and you have some goal to achieve, that later on, when you look back for a job, can use as a pitch that a lot of other candidates won’t be having, this will make you an asset to any company! And can make your CV stand out!
If you are thinking about a gap year, but you feel stuck planning it or hesitating if it will serve or not your career. And you realise the most significant reason that is holding you back is fear that will harm your career, So let’s have a free vibe call!
If you are committed to taking the next step in your career, but it looks like you are not getting anywhere by yourself, and you realise you feel stuck and needs someone to help you get through it. I got you!