Lots of people take a Gap Year before starting university but you could use the time to decide what you want to do next.
You may use a gap year to:
- Get work experience
- Research your career
- Do voluntary work
- Earn some money
- Gain extra qualifications
Gain Work Experience & Research Your Career
Test out your career ideas and improve your skills by doing work experience, work shadowing or temporary work in your chosen field.
Work experience will look great on your CV when you’re applying for jobs and will also give you an opportunity to check that the career is really what you’re looking for.
To get work experience:
- Complete a good CV
- Contact employers directly – email your CV
- Start by asking to come just for a day
- Ask everyone you know to ask around for you
Research careers using the Job Profiles at:
The National Careers Service
- Check that you’ll be covered by the employer’s insurance
Voluntary work can be a way of travelling, making a contribution, developing an interest, exploring your career ideas, attaining skills and experience and improving your employability.
Think about the kind of voluntary work you’d like to do and make sure you research it thoroughly. For schemes abroad you may have to pay or raise funds. In some cases you may be paid your expenses and possibly a small wage.
Make sure you are insured.
Earn Some Money
It’s fine to use your gap year to earn some money but make sure you gain other skills as well. Think about finding a job which will help you develop in a manner that will prove useful in the future. For example, working in a shop will help develop communication techniques.
You could also think about work experience or shadowing and voluntary work in addition to your paid job. Here are some ideas:
- Get a job in a care home if you’re aiming for a medical career
- Work as a Teaching Assistant if you want to work with children
- Do science coaching in a school if you plan to apply for a science based degree
- Volunteer in a library if you’re applying for English
- Help out at a theatre if you’re applying for Drama
- Do volunteer work with offenders/victims if you’re considering law
- Work in a leisure centre if you’re interested in sport
- Volunteer at a youth club if you are interested in Youth Work
If you hope to travel in your gap year you’ll need to do some careful planning. Here are some things to think about:
- How are you going to fund it?
- When and where will you go?
- Who will you go with?
- Will you combine your travel with volunteering or working abroad?
- Are you insured?
Gain Extra Qualifications
If you haven’t got a GCSE grade C+ in maths, English, science or ICT, use your gap year to get an equivalent qualification.
You could also think about learning a new foreign language or getting a TEFL qualification (Teaching English as a Foreign Language).
Applying to University – you could apply for deferred entry. Most universities are positive about gap years, but check with yours. You should mention your gap year plans in your personal statement which means that you need to start thinking about it early. Some maths and science courses do not encourage gap years.
You could apply during your year out but - will you be in the country? Also, ask your sixth form or college if they will support you during the process.