The Power of Taking a Gap Year

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Gap year
Greta Cline, CFO
Greta Cline
Partner, CFO/COO
April 25, 2023

Graduation season is upon us. You’re surrounded by people who seem to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, you’re still working on that decision. Is this something you can figure out as you move forward? Or, is it time to step back and take a good look inward? Maybe it’s time to consider a gap year.

A gap year is typically a point in your life journey where you postpone the big decisions – where you’re going to college, what you’re going to do for the rest of your life, what’s important to you – and give yourself time to figure things out. A gap year typically falls before or after college. But, it can occur at any point where you just want to regroup. Is a gap year right for you? Perhaps. If it was good enough for the president’s daughter, maybe it’s something you should consider.

Gap year advantages

Taking time off before college or a career commitment gives you a chance to focus on what you really want to do next. Let’s look at some of the advantages of taking a gap year:

You form new relationships. If you’ve been primarily surrounded by your peer group all your life, you can miss out on the wisdom of people you don’t normally rub shoulders with. A gap year allows you to begin creating a network of friends and colleagues who come from different backgrounds and points of view. By stepping outside of your comfortable circle, you may meet someone who helps you connect the dots to your own true passion.

You give yourself an extra year of experience. There’s something to be said for starting college or your professional life with an additional year of life experience. Gap years can force people to become more independent, especially if they are taking on the responsibility of paying for their own expenses or living within a budget. This unique perspective can help you focus on your priorities.

You save money. Let’s face it. College is expensive. If you’re undecided, you may want to postpone the first payment. Wait until you’re more certain about what you want to pursue.

You can develop soft skills. When we talk about work skills, you may automatically default to things you learn in a classroom, like creating databases, writing papers and programming computers. But successful professionals also must possess so-called soft skills, like communication, creativity, conflict resolution or adaptability. These skills can’t always be taught, although they must be learned. Giving yourself a year or so to learn these skills from coworkers and colleagues can add value to your next life chapter.

You find out what you don’t want to do. Many people go into college and their careers with someone else’s dreams. Maybe your parents encouraged you to pursue architecture because you made a mean Lego town. Or maybe you chose a journalism major because you like to write. If you plan accordingly, a gap year allows you to explore these careers without making a commitment. Sometimes an administrative job within a certain profession can open your eyes to the reality of the job. You may love what you see, or you may decide to pursue something else in the long run.

Filling in the gap (year)

Let’s be clear. Gap years are not synonymous with vacations. If you’re giving yourself an extra year or two to figure out what’s important, you are going to have to put in some work on your end. Use the gap year to expand your knowledge base. Become familiar with pertinent life skills like living within your means and shopping for the best automobile insurance rates. Look for professional opportunities that expose you to different people and careers.

That’s Good HR is a great partner for your gap year, because we have leads on many temporary or temp-to-hire positions in Indianapolis and the surrounding areas. These jobs aren’t a lifetime commitment – or even a permanent placement. Instead, they expose you to workplaces and professionals who can open your eyes to opportunities you may have never considered. Additionally, you can make money to fund your eventual dreams, whether they involve continuing education or moving to a new locale.

If you’re not quite ready to jump into college or the professional workplace, a gap year may be the right choice for you. That’s Good HR can help you find the right job opportunities to fill the year and make the most of this important investment. Remember, there’s no set rule about how to navigate your eventual career journey. If a gap year sounds right for you, let’s talk.