What is a gap year programme?
The term 'gap year' gets batted around a lot these days, but do you know what gap year programmes actually are?
Gap year programs were traditionally periods of time in which young adults would leave behind their lives at home and travel to a foreign land (or lands) in search of new experiences and adventures.
Despite being known as gap 'years', the duration of these times abroad vary and can be shorter or longer than a year.
Over time, the traditional gap year work experience has evolved, offering more freedom to those undertaking them.
You can essentially travel to any place, for as long as you like, getting involved in a vast array of different projects – and still call it a gap year.
Now it's probably more accurate to class a gap year as simply a time to try something new, get away from the 'reality' of life at home and develop as a person.
How does a gap year scheme work?
As gap year programs can last for as long as you like and be done anywhere at any time, it's pretty much up to you when it comes to how structured or unstructured you want it to be.
Maybe you want to get involved in a number of different projects in different places and know exactly where you're going and when.
Or maybe you just want to jump on a plane, head off to an exotic location and find work, jobs or volunteering opportunities along the way.
Either way is perfectly viable and each can constitute a gap year programme (though jumping on the next available plane and heading abroad without a plan of action isn't something we'd recommend doing).
There are companies out there like Frontier designed to help you find structured gap year work experiences and voluntary experiences abroad, so check them out to get an idea of what programmes exist and get inspired!
Who would suit doing a gap year internship?
If you're the kind of person who's not scared of a little adventure, wants to see the world and gain some great experience to stick on your CV, a gap year could well be right for you.
Immersing yourself in a foreign culture and travelling to different cultures can help broaden the mind and give you a different perspective on life, which can certainly help you to progress as a person.
Of course, while there's lots to be said for 'gap yearing', there's also plenty to be said for getting stuck into an apprenticeship, school leaver scheme or heading off to university to develop professionally after school.
Each person suits different things, so don't feel like you're missing out if you're friends do a gap year placement, and don't feel like you're wasting your time if you head abroad while your mates start apprenticeships or go into higher education.
Where can you do gap year work placements?
How long's a piece of rope? The world is your oyster when it comes to where you can do gap year schemes. Of course, there will always be places that are more popular than others. There are also certain countries that are too dangerous to travel to.
Nations that seem to be eternally popular for young travellers include the likes of Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, while South American countries also attract their fair share of 'gap yearers'.
There are also many other places in Africa or Asia that you can travel to, while backpacking through Europe offers opportunities for adventure a little closer to home.
Why should someone do a gap year?
Student gap years let you get stuck into some amazing projects, including saving endangered species, helping out wildlife and marine conservation groups, teaching English abroad and working on community development projects.
As well as gaining experiences and memories that you'll keep for life, you also get to develop skills that can help you professionally.
When's best to do a gap year program?
In a similar way to everything else concerning gap years, there’s no real one-size fits all approach when it comes to when’s best to do a gap year.
In terms of when’s best during the year, it all depends on where you’re going. For example, you probably don’t want to travel to India during the standard monsoon months of June to October! So do your research on whichever countries you’re thinking of t venturing to.
What are the benefits of doing a gap year?
Yeah that’s right, there are actually good reasons why you should consider doing a gap year. They include the following:
Grow as a person: you'll be involved in experiences that help you learn and develop as a person
Learn new skills: depending on what you do on your gap year, you'll have a great chance to learn new, practical skills, such as people management, time management and (hopefully) some language skills
Gain experience for your CV: your time away on a gap year provides the perfect content for that pesky 'about me' section on your CV
Have a break while you can: at this 'pre-work' stage of your life, you've got a pretty good excuse to take a massive trip away. When real life starts you might not get such a great opportunity!