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Five ways to make the most of your gap year

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Sagina Samuel

Nov 17, 2020

Ask adventure sports enthusiasts what keeps their adrenaline pumped up every time they venture out and you will be surprised to learn about their level of preparation. Right from rigorously training every day to ensure that their bodies are fit, to having the required protective equipment, a lot of time is taken to plan and research. With everything set in place, the enthusiasts can start their journey to embark on an exciting adventure. A gap year can therefore be one of the best ways to discover yourself and get clarity on your true calling.

If you are considering taking one yourself - congratulations! You are already on track to having the adventure of a lifetime. Your plans can start out rather vaguely, but with the right amount of planning and guidance , you can take on the year with ease and confidence. So, here are five ways to make the most of your gap year!

#1. Planning is everything!

Although going with the flow might sound like a good idea, it only works in the movies! In real life, gap years can be fruitful only when one has invested enough thought into structuring it.

Take a cue from the poster girl of gap years herself, Malia Obama who chose to take up a gap year after graduating high school in 2016 before joining Harvard University. She started by pursuing a summer internship in the U.S. Embassy in Spain which provided a path to learn more about international relations whilst letting her embrace the culture of the land. She spent her next 3 months trekking through the mountains of Bolivia and Peru with a group of students passionate about environmental conservation projects. She wrapped up her year by interning at a production house in Hollywood to learn the workings of the industry. Overall, the experience played to her strengths as well as touched upon her diverse interests.

When you are toying with the idea, approach a counselor in your high school or even your parents to guide you with a solid plan for the gap year ahead. Come up with a daily/weekly/monthly schedule to keep you actively involved in the entire learning curve and hold yourself accountable for achieving the goals you set up. Read up on different places, courses, skills, jobs, and activities that interest you. Talk to people who have previously taken gap years and gain insights into their experiences as well!

Along with setting goals, building a structure will provide a blueprint to maximize your experience. Goals will help you stay motivated and not lose track of the timeline set. Creating a budget can help as well to keep your expenses in control throughout the year. Whatever you decide to do in your gap year, let it be purposeful.

#2. Pursue hands-on experiences

According to studies, 85% of HR executives felt in 2011 that relevant work experience was more valuable than an average non-vocational degree. Try to take up internships or a full-time job that goes in line with your field of interests. Gaining relevant job experience will give you valuable insight into any industry that you want to be a part of in the future. For instance, if you want to become a sound engineer, interning with sound mixing studios will aid you in getting a bigger picture of what is required to pursue it.

Being a part of the work environment will help you understand the work dynamics and ethics involved in the place. Any kind of work experience, in the long run, will be beneficial and look good on your resumes and applications. Meeting new people in the workspace will enable you to expand your network, with whom you can even connect and collaborate with later on for any projects.

#3. Venture outside

A gap year is the best time to step out of your hometown and see the world. This does not necessarily mean investing copious amounts of money on visits to exotic destinations; you can journey to places within your country and immerse yourself in its unique culture too. There is so much to see than just what meets the eye!

On your travels, try to look for spots that bring out the true authenticity and culture of the people. Gain cultural insight that will help you learn more about society. Start a blog or maintain a travelogue to record and share your experiences.

Do consider travelling solo, if you are permitted to. It will help you develop your independent living skills at the same time. Try to make your traveling as sustainable and budget-friendly as possible.

#4. Master a new skill

Have you always wanted to learn how to build a new app or learn a new language, but never had the time? Well, the gap year is the perfect time to be innovative and become a master of something you love. Learning a skill that is related to your area of study or work can even add value to your work and can lead to future employment opportunities.

We are fortunate to live in an age of abundant information - where there are plenty of courses , tutorials , and apps that facilitate greater learning.

#5. Contribute to a cause that moves you

You will be surprised to know that gap years teach us not only about gaining but also about giving. This is a time to introspect about our purpose in life and find ways to give back to our communities. As learners, we do not always have mighty resources, but we can always contribute our time!

During your gap year, volunteer for a cause that is close to your heart or in a field you are interested in. The options are limitless - you could take part in a wildlife conservation project , teach children , work in social welfare charities , or participate in rallies .

The gap year trend is quickly gaining popularity around the world. Learners are quickly realizing that it encompasses a lot more than just travelling, as you would have found in this post. There are plenty of ways you can make your own gap year, personal and unique.

How would you plan your gap year after high school? Tell us in the comments below!

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