It started when you were 16. “So, where are you going to college?” It happened again when you were a freshman. “So, what’s your major?” Now it’s happening – and probably not for the last time. “So, what are you doing after graduation?” While I may never know what causes our family and friends to ask about our future, I do know that there are plenty of options for you after you graduate. So, now the question has been asked: What ARE you doing after graduation? Not sure? Don’t want to work but don’t want to go back to school? I completely understand and not only do I understand, but I don’t blame you either. So let me offer you some condolences by giving you some advice: take a year off. Take two years off. You don’t have to dive right into a career and you don’t have to jump into grad school quite yet. There are enough “Gap Year” programs, both in the United States and overseas, that you can certainly find one that fits you.
Never heard of a Gap Year Program? Sure you have. Teach for America and Peace Corps are two of the most popular Gap Year programs across the country – but they require two-year commitments. There are plenty of Gap Year Programs that only require a summer commitment while others require a year long commitment.
Why participate in a Gap Year Program? Other than the obvious reason of taking a break from school and work, you’ll also test the waters of a possible career, make an impact in a community, gain practical experience, possibly learn new languages and develop other skills, and make new friends and contacts with similar passions and interests as you.
But what about pay? I understand that with the economy today the need for a quick high paying job is more important now than ever, but many of these programs offer some kind of compensation. Room and board, living stipends, health insurance, and travel expenses are all examples of what these Gap-Year programs can offer to you. Some may even offer student loan deferment on past or future student loans. Whatever your major, whatever your desire, there’s a Gap Year Program for you.
Passionate about volunteering/being hands-on? There’s a Gap for that. Volunteers for Peace has over 2,000 programs in 70 different countries doing construction, restoration, environmental, social, agricultural and maintenance work, mostly in the summer.
Interested in teaching abroad? There’s a Gap for that. Anglo-Hellenic helps English teachers find employment in language schools throughout Greece. Many of the positions available are suitable for teachers beginning their career. Requirements? Native English speaker and a four-year degree, and you will not be required to speak Greek. There are also plenty of opportunities for language majors to teach abroad in their country of study.
Want to make a difference domestically by serving your community? There’s a Gap for that. AmeriCorps offers 75,000 opportunities for adults of all ages (17+) and backgrounds to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups. Opportunities include fighting illiteracy, improving health services, building affordable housing, managing and operating after-school programs and more.
Passionate about the environment? There’s a Gap for that. Green Corps’ one-year, full-time, paid Field School for Environmental Organizing includes intensive classroom training, hands-on field experience running urgent environmental and public health campaigns, and career placement in positions with leading environmental groups.
Set up an appointment with your Career Consultant or do some research on your own to find out more about these opportunities.