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Taking a ‘gap year’ can happen at any time and for any length of time. You might be a student who has just finished exams, or maybe a professional wanting a career break. As an example, my brother, 34, has worked for over 12 years and has decided to take a year out from his finance career to travel around South America with his wife and baby.

Here are some things to consider if you're thinking of taking a gap year.

How do employers view gap years?

Generally, employers view gap years very favourably. They will look at the life skills gained and the type of experiences you have had. So documenting a drinking marathon around Australia will not do you justice whereas volunteering or taking up work experience somewhere will!

Deferring a place at University?

Maybe you've been offered a place but you don't feel ready to start Uni. You'll need to contact the Uni and tell them why you want to defer and what you're planning to do with your time. The Uni has to assess each case in order to make a decision. Check the UCAS website for more information.

There's no right or wrong time to take a gap year. It depends on your budget, plans and aims of your trip.

What careers skills can I develop on a gap year?

A gap year can enhance and develop skills that can be useful in your preferred career path. Really think about skills that are needed and the different ways to develop them. For example, if you are interested in working with children, find a local nursery or school to volunteer in. This will look fantastic on your CV and show you are proactive and eager to strengthen your skills.

Volunteering

Choose an area you are passionate about and spend a while in the same place doing something rewarding. 65% of HR executives surveyed by gapyear.com said volunteering abroad made an application stand out. Do be careful when you research this, as some organised volunteering opportunities are very expensive. Useful info on volunteering.

Learn a new language

Speaking foreign languages is an absolute winner to employers. Attend a class or simply buy a book and get practising before you go. The real test is using it out and about. Remember you are in the best place to learn a language. My brother, for example, has a phrase book and is teaching himself Spanish, and using it every day in South America. Here's why you should learn a language.

Further your work experience

Work experience shows you have the courage to a potential employer to try something new and, most likely, daunting. You will stand out in a crowd and who knows what it might lead to? Great advice on working abroad

Becoming more culturally aware

Immersing yourself in another culture is a great way to increase your life skills. Understanding a completely different way of life and living and working within that culture shows you can adapt to new challenges. Find out how to prepare for your adventure in a cultural sense

Write a blog

Document your travels. It could be a great portfolio to show potential employers and also an excellent way to remember your experiences. My brother regularly updates his blog and, with pictures too, it’s almost like being with him on his journey. See his blog as an example: https://wanderlustandbaby.com/blog/

Still confused? Book an appointment with a professional careers adviser from Adviza who can help you make the right choice, whether you’ve just finished your exams or want to take a career break.

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