Volunteering or working in career development on your gap year is a great way to use your time away to not only experience a new culture, but also to prepare yourself for working life when you return home. Working on your gap year doesn’t have to mean struggling through on minimum wage, doing laborious jobs like fruit-picking or bar work; it can be an opportunity to get your foot into the industry you ultimately want to contribute to. A gap year spent working or volunteering in career development will look fantastic on your CV, while at the same time providing a unique perspective on a country and its people.
Top Tips for Volunteering in Career Development
What kind of career development can I do?
The first thing you need to do is choose an industry you are interested in and work from there. It could be related to something you have studied at college or university, or something completely new. There are opportunities for career development on your gap year in all the major sectors, including journalism, media, medicine, finance, business, sports and PR.
What's in it for me?
It’s no secret that graduates and young people are facing an extremely tough job market at present. The recession is still lingering, making it nigh on impossible for many to break into their chosen industries. The competition is fiercer than it’s ever been, meaning young people need to find ways to stand out from the crowd, and partaking in career development on your gap year is one very effective way to do this. A gap year always looks good on the CV, but one which has been used to gain experience in a relevant industry is a winning combination.
Apart from seriously boosting your chances of employment on your return, you will get to experience a new country and culture in an entirely unique way, mingling on a professional basis with the local community. This will widen your perspective and broaden your knowledge in a way that couldn’t be achieved at home.
And lastly, as if you needed another reason, using your gap year for career development is a great way to travel and make money at the same time!
Where should I go?
The type of place you choose to go to will depend to a certain extent on the type of work experience you are looking for. For example if you are interested in adventure training career development, you could find yourself in wild and exotic destinations such as the national parks of South Africa. Conversely, if you’d like to get a leg up in the business and finance industry, you could end up slicking it in amazing cities like Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, or Madrid, the capital of Spain.
When should I go?
Although there is no perfect time to take your gap year in career development, it would be a good idea to research the industry you are ultimately trying to get into, figure out if there are any patterns in its hiring strategy, and work your time away around that.
For example, many finance companies have recruitment drives during the third quarter of the financial year, the reason being that they want their employees to be adequately trained to deal with transactions that must be completed by the end of the year. If you time your return to coincide with these kinds of periods, you will give yourself a better chance of being employed quickly.
What about visas and vaccinations?
You will almost certainly need a special kind of visa to be able to legally work in a foreign country, so be sure to research this thoroughly before you go. Similarly, you’ll need to have a chat with your doctor about the need (if any) for vaccinations or immunisations before you go. What you’ll need will depend on the region of the country you’ll be living in and type of work you’ll be doing.