While gap years are relatively common between high school and college, there is a rising trend of college grads taking time for themselves before actively pursuing jobs or advanced degrees. While this trend might set off concerns that millennials are a little too comfortable with being “professional students,” a gap year has the potential to provide many benefits that can be used to enhance one’s future career.
1. You need to prioritize your mental health
Let’s face it: college is incredibly demanding, and many graduates are grappling with how to transition from this high-stress environment to another high-stress environment in the form of a new program or job (only this time, there are completely different expectations and it’s possible to get fired). Great. No matter how qualified or talented you are, there is no job offer worth sacrificing your sanity. Give yourself time to address that which could hurt your well-being.
2. You want to travel
Maybe you studied a foreign language that you want to put to use. Maybe you want to see what’s happening in your field on a global scale. Whatever the case, there are ways to use a gap year to travel responsibly- aka, have the experience of a lifetime while gaining skills that are sure to impress your future employer. For example, teaching English abroad can allow you to make some moolah in another country while providing an opportunity to understand a new culture, gain experience, and learn/improve a foreign language.
3. You need $$$ for grad school
Even if you play all your financial aid cards right, there’s no getting around the fact that grad school is super expensive. If you don’t want to pile on loans, take the time to save for your education. Plus, getting more experience may help you get into your program!
4. You want to make connections
Are you working in a lab doing cutting-edge research, or volunteering with an organization you love? If you believe that the networks and experiences you are obtaining with unpaid work are significant, stick with it. Your connections may help you launch your career.
5. You need to figure out what you want
Double majors are awesome… until you realize that you can’t completely combine your interests and instead have to choose which of your passions you want to pursue. If you are realizing that your dream job isn’t quite as dreamy as you thought, take some time to explore your options, either with the help of a career counselor or professionals in your field. Taking time to explore your options allows you to save time in the long run from putting effort into a career path that isn’t right for you.