The illustrious gap year

For many graduates, now is the time to consider either a gap year or full time work. Li Yen Tan has looked at the various opportunities a gap year can provide, and how they can help your future career.

gapyear280If you’re going into your final year of university, or have recently graduated, you might wish to contemplate a gap year. As you’re overjoyed at passing yet another year, you could be wondering how to make the best of your time once you’re free from the constraints of a timetabled schedule.

You’ve probably found yourself googling things like ‘best gap year ideas’ or ‘volunteer opportunities abroad’ or just simply, ‘cheap holidays’.

 

Whilst freedom and a revision free Easter break sounds like the ultimate dream, it’s important to think about the reality and long-term career strengthening opportunities of a gap year.

Secure yourself relevant internships/work experience

For an entire year, free of any academic obligations, you can undertake any relevant work experience or internships outside of the usual academic holidays. Often opportunities during the holidays will be heavily oversubscribed and your chances of securing a placement are much less.

Work experience is a great way to strengthen your CV if your course did not offer a placement year, or you didn’t get a chance to gain any experience whilst at university.

Given the choice between a graduate with a first class degree and no experience, and a graduate with a 2:1 with vast experience, the latter is more likely to be successful in obtaining a job, as work experience shows commitment and commercial understanding of what the sector entails.

In the extremely competitive world of finance, it’s important to pursue opportunities to build an efficacious CV and strengthen your chances of being successful when you apply for jobs after your gap year. These days, the reality is that experience is almost absolutely essential.

Network

There are a whole hosts of free talks or lectures, some for a small fee, mostly held in London or at a university, but it is worth checking these out as they are a great way to meet people already in the industry and get a better understanding of the different progression paths. You never know who you might meet; you could even get an internship out of it! As the saying goes, it’s who you know!

Travel

Once you’ve secured and/or done your internship, begin your travel plans! Travelling is a great way to broaden your horizons, explore different cultures and is a great conversational topic for when you eventually start work. Wherever you go and whatever you do, if you choose to talk about your travels in interviews, do remember to keep it ‘work appropriate’!

The take-home message is to make the most of your gap year by seizing every opportunity to enhance yourself. Make sure it comes across in your CV, as after all, that will most probably be your first impression in the ‘real world’. Once you make it to the interview stage, we hope the wealth of experience you will have gained from following these guidelines will carry you into your dream job.

For those of you choosing to forgo the gap year and opt instead for a career in finance, take a look at our Candidates page.

Get in contact with us on 01273 651 500 to find out more about the excellent contracting opportunities Grovelands has to offer. Good luck and happy gap year planning!

– Li Yen Tan

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