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How to Project Manage Your Gap Year Abroad

Date added: Monday 16th September 2013

 

In today's competitive market, young job seekers can only land top positions by finding ways to stand out from the crowd. University degrees and conventional internships are no longer enough, and employers are eager for candidates with the skills to excel in a business world that is rapidly being transformed by globalization, so more and more students are discovering the value of taking gap years.

Time abroad helps young people clarify long-term goals, gain perspective, discover new cultures, awake to new passions, and perhaps most importantly-prepare themselves for success in a world where technology is erasing geographical barriers and bringing us together on a global scale like never before. Yet while the benefits of gap years are often quite obvious, the path to a productive and enriching experience overseas is far harder to discern.  Here's how to get the most from your gap:

Understanding the Options

Research and planning in as much detail as possible is the key to a successful gap yearThe first step in project managing your gap year is understanding and evaluating the countless options available. Just like project managing a business project start by considering what your goals are. In your student case, will you be working, teaching, volunteering, or studying during your trip and in what part of the world? Every decision made will contribute to your working life in the future from the valuable experience gained from your gap year abroad so set out your goals wisely. Also think about, what programs are available to join on your gap year and what is your budget? If your plan fails make sure there is a backup plan.

 

Be sure to do as much research as possible by reading blogs from fellow travelers; talking to friends, family, and professors; and contacting the organisations you are interested in for more information.

Planning and Preparation

After you decide where you want to go and what you want to do, it is time to plan out the specifics. After you decide where you want to go on your gap year, it's time to plan out the specificsWithin a detailed project management plan you need to scope out the milestones and schedule in tasks, so arrange your living situation and accommodation, obtain the necessary vaccinations, apply for the courses or jobs you plan to take, and start networking to build relationships with the people who can help you move toward your goals. Think about the breakdown structure, you might need to begin learning a new language or take on a new part time job to acquire the resources you'll need during your gap year.

Taking the Plunge

Now that you have a schedule in place, book your flight pack your bags and go! You'll need to adapt quickly so begin implementing your communication matrix, keeping an open mind, and eliminating the unnecessary luxuries of your old lifestyle as you transition into a new one. To make the most of your year abroad, immerse yourself as thoroughly as possible in the local way of life.

Making the Most of an Opportunity

Before you know it your trip will be over so make the most of the experienceBefore you know it your trip will already be over, so make the most of it while it lasts. Roll out your gap year deployment and see every sunset, push yourself to embrace experiences you might otherwise have shunned, ask questions, take risks, wake up early get out and learn as much as you possibly can. Opportunities to become a more valuable and versatile person are waiting around every corner, go out and find them and soon you will have those all round skills which will help you in a job later along your timeline.

 

 

Reflecting While Moving Forward

After your trip, it can be easy to melt back into your old way of life without a second thought. But it is important to pursue the newfound interests you discovered abroad, to latch on to the most positive parts of your experience, and to find ways to implement what you learned overseas into your life at When you return find ways to implement what you have learned overseas into your life at homehome. Keeping a travel blog, journal, photo essay, or video record of your adventures can be a great way to reflect on what you've learned and apply it to your future. Writing about your experiences is also a valuable way to gain insights that may not have occurred to you at the time. So cultivate and apply your newfound perspective, and put those hard-earned lessons to work as you move forward into a new career or the next stage of your academic development.

While gap years are inevitably filled with countless surprises just like projects encounter, students who approach their travels with clear goals ultimately experience the most benefits. So rather than a break from your journey into higher education and professional life, think of your gap year as an essential component of your career development. If you manage your time abroad correctly, you'll no doubt change your life in ways you never thought possible.

Author: Jenny Ann Beswick is a graduate of engineering who embarked on a gap year whilst at university. Since higher education and a gap year experience Jen has worked internationally through an engineering telegraph job. We look forward to hearing how your gap year plans out.

 

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