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Great advice for those considering a gap year

Date added: Thursday 12th May 2016

Richard Nimmo, Chair of Year Out Group and MD of Blue Ventures Expeditions recently took part in Guardian Newspaper live chat about gap years. He and the other contributors were asked how they would advise someone considering gap year and we've paraphrased some of it below. A full transcript of the live chat is available at

  • Use the time to focus on what you want to do and re-charge. A break from study and work can help to re-focus and move ahead in studies, life or career.
  • International travel, volunteering and employment are precious experiences on a CV.
  • Make sure some of your Gap Year has relevance on your intended career if you're hoping to impress for a particuar job.
  • Volunteer abroad and gain hands-on experience in your "dream field", ie if its cetacean research you are passionate about - then if you can show that you have spent 3 months researching whales and dolphins in Patagonia.
  • Learn a new language - everyone is impressed if you can speak a local language that you have learnt whilst on your gap year.
  • Do something unusual - learn a skill that will make you stand out from the rest. What will impress potential employees?
  • Plan - you'll soon find you're 6 months through and still sitting on your parent's sofa. Get a plan and ensure you achieve some goals within the year
  • Do something practical, have things to do and people to meet at the other end, with an assignment to complete. There will still be room for wandering.
  • Don't feel a gap year only means travelling, you can do anything you want with that year, you're free, even if it means a year in industry for you, make the most of the time.
  • Make it count this is often a once in a lifetime opportunity but its important you get the most out of it.
  • A gap year is a great way to adapt to new environments, meet new people and learn transferable skills - think about volunteering, training, working and internships.
  • Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to organise your gap year and agree with your university to defer your place for a year so you have something to come back to.
  • Get some support The National Careers Service can offer support on getting the most out of your gap year and advisers are on hand to support you through this 7 days a week from 8am-10pm -
  • Use your gap year as your 'Tell me about yourself' answer.
  • Make sure the experience you gain reflect the skills and competencies on your CV.
  • Link anything you do to your target role.
  • NEVER feel defensive or apologetic for your time out. Sell your experiences as a whole set of positives.
  • You have some great stories to tell, but your BEST story is the one that shows, based on what you learned, what you can do next for your prospective employer.
  • Don't wait for roles to come up, engage with companies and people you'd like to work for and ask what opportunities they may have coming up.
  • Decide what to do based on what you want. After all, that's what counts, and don't feel the need to be defensive to others about your decisions!
  • Remember that no matter what you decide to do you'll be learning some hugely important skills: independence, communication, organisation and confidence being just some of them!
  • Travel. It's a great way to learn a whole host of new skills - from a new language, to negotiation, to project management.