Gap years tend to get a bit of a peculiar and specific reputation. There’s this stereotype of a posh kid leaving school and going travelling around the world to find themselves. They spend all their time lounging around on beaches in Bali, coming home to a grad job that was sorted out by their rich parents.
As such, a lot of people avoid gap years because they see them as having no benefit to their professional life. Is it not better to just go straight from school to uni or from uni to a job? Sometimes it can be, but other times a gap year could be the best thing for your career.
Following along that trail of thought, here are three surprising reasons a gap year could benefit your professional life:
A chance to find your passion
You don’t actually need to go away during a gap year. It is simply a year that you take out from academic or professional life, to do with as you please. This could be a chance for you to try things you have never had the time to do. It’s an opportunity to find your passion in life. Who knows, after your gap year, you might have a new purpose. You have finally found something that you enjoy, and this can pave the way for a new and exciting career.
An opportunity to network
If you do go away, you can see this as a chance to network and meet new people. Obviously, you don’t want to approach it like a business networking event! Still, meeting different people can open doors in your professional life. The trick is to stay in hostels or shared accommodation options. These are growing in popularity within the hospitality industry, as they offer people like you cheap accommodation options during a gap year! They also force you to be amongst others, where you can start talking to new people. You mention what you do, someone mentions that they know someone in that industry, before you know it you have a new contact to help you out. When the gap year ends, you may have lots of new contacts that can help you forge a more successful career path.
Time to destress and recharge
Finally, a gap year is a chance for you to destress and recharge your batteries. You don’t realise how much stress and tension work causes you until you take an extended break. When you return, you will feel fresh and re-energised like never before. You can attack your work with more energy and be more productive, but you also might have more motivation to work harder and climb the career ladder. The stress of working every day can take its toll on you, so having a break can be all you need to really start afresh.
See, gap years aren’t just about sunny beach parties in Bali and ‘finding yourself’ on a yoga retreat. They can be beneficial, and you can take one whenever you feel like it. Don’t assume that you can only take a gap year after school or university, if you feel like you need a break from your current job, a gap year could be the solution.