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Taking a Gap Year After College Graduation

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Taking a Gap Year After College Graduation

When you hear “gap year,” most people think it’s a year off between high school and college. Yes, taking time off after a particularly intense high school experience is very common. Many gappers are seeking real world professional experience, a clearer sense of their academic path, and increased cultural self-awareness, not to mention building maturity and self-reliance (whether or not they like to admit!)

But actually, many college grads are now finding themselves stuck or torn about which professional path to pursue after they get their degrees.

Maybe they are no longer interested in their academic concentrations or can’t decide which graduate programs to apply to.

Or often times, they just need a break from academia before beginning yet another degree.

College grads are finding a post-collegiate gap year to be a once in a lifetime restorative, clarifying, and skill building experience before they embark on a career or graduate school path and have all the responsibilities that life inevitably brings.  

So, why delay accepting that 9-5 job? Here are a few great reasons to take a post-collegiate gap year:

  • Career Exploration: Taking a deliberate and well planned gap year to gain work or volunteer experience will help you decide which career is right for you and eliminate options that aren’t good fits. You’ll be able to gain hands on experience helping you to make the choice of whether this is a field that really makes you happy and/or can realistically be a way to make a living.

  • Narrow Down Field of Study for Graduate School: Maybe you have multiple fields of study that you are considering for graduate school, but don't know how to know definitively what's suitable for you. Gaining some work or volunteer experience during your gap year can help you explore fields of interest and determine which programs to apply to.

  • Gain International Experience: You studied abroad in college and still have the itch to go abroad or maybe you didn't have the time and you’d like to get your feet wet abroad. This could be your last chance to spend an extended period of time abroad before you have the responsibilities of full time work, graduate school, or even a family. Spending some purposeful time abroad can lead to developing transferable skills that will be useful in various types of experiences crossing cultures. Research shows that gap year and study abroad alumni are more employable because they have cultivated a unique set of skills that employers look for.

  • Acquire Real World Experience: Some students didn't get the opportunity to intern in college or didn't have an internship in a field that they see themselves working in. Then taking the year to intern domestically and/or internationally can be an excellent way to gain skills, determine if you like that domain, and add something productive to your resume.

  • Need an Academic Break: You know you want to go to grad school and which type of programs you’ll apply to, but your brain needs a break! Participating in a volunteer or work experience can be a truly restorative, and transformative adventure. At Intercultural Adventures we create personalized timelines to help you apply for graduate school, giving you check points to stay accountable and bite sized action steps to make the daunting process of taking graduate exams and applying for graduate school very doable.

  • Can’t Afford Grad School Right Now: Spend a year or two internationally or domestically working and saving money for graduate school.

  • Didn’t Love your Undergraduate Field of Study: You’ve got the diploma, which is gold, but you really didn’t like studying business, for example. Exploring your interests on a gap year can help you to determine a new career path for yourself and give you the training you will need to apply for full time work in a new field at a later date. What are some aspects of business that you like? How can you connect those to your professional goals?

  • Become a More Competitive Graduate School Applicant: You are interested in applying to some competitive graduate school programs and you’d like to get a leg up on other applicants. Spending a year or two working or volunteering in something meaningful can make you a more desirable candidate and, possibly, help you write better essays as you will have real world experience to draw from when writing.

  • Explore the US: You stayed close to the nest and are ready to explore other parts of the US or you attended college in a state where you don’t see yourself lying down roots in. Taking a gap year and spending some time living in one or two states that you find interesting could be a great way to examine where you want to apply for jobs or graduate school while gaining some internship/work experience along the way.

At Intercultural Adventures we’ve worked with college grads in your shoes and helped them curate a meaningful, productive, and life-changing gap year. Trust us, we get it!

In fact, Whitney and I are both post-collegiate gap year alumni and we wouldn’t change the experience for the world.

We opted for teaching, volunteering, and interning during our gap years, gaining the clarity, focus, and skills that helped both of us develop our experiences into purposeful careers in international education. Reach out to hear more from us and learn how to plan your post-grad gap year!

Post collegiate student interning abroad on Quito, Ecuador. Maxine choose to intern in legal fields before law school using her Spanish at a professional level.