Taking a gap year is a brilliant experience: you’ll meet amazing people, learn skills that you can’t in a classroom, and it’ll set you up perfectly for whatever you have planned on your return. However, they can get expensive. Whether you’re staying in your country for a gap year or going abroad, working is the best way to ensure you’re getting a well-rounded experience, as well as topping up your gap year fund!
Firstly – money! Getting a paid position means you don’t need to worry about your finances, and can often lead to more exciting opportunities that you may have been unaware of before. Working abroad is a fantastic addition to any CV: whether you’re working on a cattle farm in rural Australia, helping children in the UK, or nursing sloths in a jungle sanctuary, it will show your work ethic, as well as initiative to find work wherever you are!
This is fine if you have savings to fund your trip, but if you fall in love with a country, and want to stay out longer than you’ve budgeted for, it can be a terrible disappointment to have to come home. Voluntary positions abroad are the best way to fully immerse yourself in a country’s culture, and know you’re giving something back, for all the breath-taking experiences it will be giving you.
Working At Home
You don’t need to go abroad to make a difference! Staying at home presents just as many opportunities as going away does – just maybe with slightly worse weather! There are many projects set up in the UK to get students involved with the communities around them, offering placements of varying lengths. These placements range from working with the elderly, or under-privileged children, to helping out with environmental causes, or animals.
Different Kinds Of Work
If you’re staying at home, why not use this time to explore any career paths that interest you? Apply for internships and work experience at a range of places – most companies offer them for anywhere between several weeks and six months. While some internships are paid, many just cover travel costs, so take this into account before applying.
Volunteering, whether you’re at home or abroad, is the best way to give something back to a place you love. Choose the sector you love the most and research the different organisations that will help get you involved. Many charities will help you plan a trip, if you’re committed to helping out with their projects. It’s a great way to meet new people, and know you’re making a difference, rather than just visiting tourist hotspots and drinking on the beach!
If you’re not keen on sitting in an office, and want to do something more active, there are plenty of farms around the world that gladly welcome help from travellers. From strawberry picking in the UK, helping to pick and squash grapes in French vineyards, to herding cattle in the Australian outback, there’s a huge variety of things to get involved with. Work on your tan while getting a healthy dose of exercise, and on top, you usually get paid, or offered bed and board, meaning that part of your adventure is entirely free.
Most countries that you’ll visit will require you to get a visa, so check what limitations are placed on your ability to work while you’re organising your trip. Many conditions allow you to work for a set number of months – but after that time, you’re more than likely going to want to move onto your next destination anyway! Some countries will allow you to stay past your visa allowance, as long as you work in a particular sector, such as harvesting.
Working on your gap year is a brilliant way to spend your time before university or full time work, and you never know – you might just find yourself not coming home!
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