The Benefits of Taking a Year Out

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Completing a degree or Masters programme is no easy feat. If you find yourself overwhelmed by your final exams and projects, now’s the time to consider if going straight into a postgrad is the right choice for you. It’s not uncommon for many students to feel the understandable need to take a break from it all while they consider their next step.

Alternate options

Taking a year out is the perfect way to gain perspective as you contemplate what your future will look like. You can enjoy some breathing space while you consolidate yourself financially or even travel. Alternatively, you can explore other avenues of work before you finally commit to a career path.

What taking a year out doesn’t give you is a license to stay at home locked into Netflix. Yes, of course, use your spare hours to do the things you couldn’t do during your time at university. Most students and graduates use a year out to travel, work or volunteer. This gives you the opportunity to gain some much-needed life experiences but it also adds transferable skills to your CV. Voluntary work, or managing both work and travel or learning how to adapt and work in a foreign culture are a great way to prove you can function in a working environment. There are even special packages available from travel companies which do all the grunt work for you, when it comes to work and travel in places such as the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and many others.

Be honest

The value of a year out is not lost on employers either; it’s now relatively commonplace and indicates a level of emotional maturity in participants. But as mentioned above, be open and honest about your experience and write down the skills and personal development that you believe you achieved during your time out. Of course, no need to include EVERYTHING, a tipsy romantic encounter at a full moon party doesn’t make a good addition to any CV’s ‘Hobby’ section; however, absolutely focus on the problems you solved and the soft skills you’ve learned along the way. Anecdotes illustrating how you negotiated challenges abroad are helpful once you reach the interview stage. If you consider your potential employers’ point of view, they are certainly a lot more interesting to listen to and will make you stand out from other applicants.

Pick the right role

Working during your year out can provide a handy financial cushion to deal with student debts or to help you get sorted out for the upcoming job hunt in terms of clothing, accommodation and travel expenses. If you are just starting your year out and are considering working when away, try and find a role that is suited to either your area of study or your area of interest. In many cases, this might not be possible, so choose something that you’ll be comfortable doing and will pay the bills. You don’t want the stress of a job you hate in a time when you’re supposed to be able to relax.

Make the most of it

If you’re considering postgraduate study when you return from your year out, use your time wisely. Really consider if it’s the right move and if your course is definitely the right one to help you start your career in the best possible way. Keep a close eye on application deadlines and use your time away to really take time with your application and personal statement. Not having the pressures of college and being in a foreign environment can help provide you with a fresh perspective on many things; not least your core motivations as to why you want to pursue further study in a particular area.

Discipline is key

Whatever you decide to do with your year out, don’t waste it. Spending several weeks sitting on a beach has its benefits, of course, but try and break this up into definable sections-time for work, time for relaxing, time for thinking and assessing what you want to do. While there are a blissful amount of uncertainties about taking a year out, the one certainty is that it will pass by a lot quicker than you think it will. Make sure at the end of your break, your only regret is that you didn’t have more time.


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