The Gap Year: Finally, A Third Option

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The rise of the Gap Year

Let’s be real: there’s pressure to plunge right into college or work after you receive your diploma – from parents, teachers, and even your fellow classmates. But what happens if you veer from the norm and explore the territory – otherwise known as the gap year – between high school and college?

Taking a gap year is more common overseas but has struck a chord with Americans the past few years – notably after the recent announcement that Malia Obama will be attending Harvard in 2017, with a year-long interlude between classroom and lecture hall. Many colleges and universities encourage incoming students to take a gap year to recharge, work on a project, travel, and learn new skills – while others argue that students could lose momentum, defer financial aid, or spend the year listless.

Master the Gap

A productive gap year boils down to three things: a plan, funding, and motivation. Do you know what you want out of life or are you blindly following a beaten path? Are mom and dad footing the bill for your trip across Europe or are you enrolling in an accredited volunteer program like Pacific Discovery or Outward Bound? Even if you’re haven’t decided on a major, are you driven to make the most of your gap year in terms of personal growth or financial stability?

For some, the advantages of a gap year outweigh the risks. If you do decide to take a gap year, enjoy it! Here are a few tips to make the best use of the interim before late-night library visits and pasta becomes a regular thing.

Work temp jobs.

Not everyone has it figured out after high school – many high school graduates are looking for direction when it comes to career options. Ever wonder what it would be like to be a marketing director for a Fortune 500? How about an entertainment attorney at a private law firm? Whether you knew what you wanted to be since you were six or have no clue what piques your interest, temp jobs are a great way to dip into different fields without making a commitment. You’ll pick up valuable skills, connect with working professionals, and develop an impressive list of credentials to bolster your resume.

Venturing into temp work will help you with your job search during and after college too, showing future employers you’re willing to get your hands dirty and try new things. Whether you land a few gigs in your hometown or opportunities abroad, temp work will undoubtedly help you get a feel for what professions you’re drawn to – and which ones you aren’t.

Save money.

College is expensive – that’s no secret. Have you seen the cost of textbooks lately? What about housing and tuition? Let’s not even talk about late-night pizza binges with your roommates. If you’re working temp jobs or even a full-time position, saving money before your first semester can really pay off in the long run. Putting away money from each paycheck during your gap year may mean you won’t have to wait tables for a few semesters, giving you more time to study and network. Plus, saving money will alleviate the pressure of paying off mounting student loan debt after college. And believe us – those interest rates can sting.

Do research based on the real workforce.

What does the current job market look like? It’s a smart idea to research what industries are growing and which are declining, depending on your professional and financial goals. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, notable job growth occurred in April 2016 for leisure and hospitality, healthcare, and professional business services. But at the end of the day, you should pursue a career you’re passionate about – just educate yourself about what you’re getting into while you’re still in college. If you choose a major with fewer jobs than talent, be prepared to ramp up your resume to outshine your competition once you graduate college.

Are you taking a gap year? When you’re looking for temp work or a full-time position, get in touch with Adecco. Our recruiters help you find jobs that give you worthwhile experience and skills.

Learn why temp works for recent grads during the Gap Year. Asking for help can help you succeed.

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