If you are unhappy with your current career, or simply want to change it, taking a career gap year is the best thing you can do. While gap years are usually associated with people who just finished high school or university, it is more acceptable for millennials these days to take a gap year later on in life.
In this post we share 5 career gap year ideas to help your reinvent yourself and rediscover your priorities. Having a plan and purpose for the time off is essential for making the most out of it. Taking a gap year without a plan could just be time wasted, but with the right intentions, your career gap year can change your life for the better.
Since you are here, you probably want to check out these posts too:
- Ultimate Guide For Your Career Break
- Quit Your Job and Travel – 6 Signs You’re Ready
- A Career Break Improves Job Prospects
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What is a career gap year?
A gap year is time you take off, steering away from your planned path. The term is derived from high school graduates or university graduates taking a year off before studying or starting a career. Hence a gap in the normal course or path set by society, before resuming the “normal” journey.
Although gap years have been most common among high school graduates and university graduates, with millennials we see a new gap year arising. It is more common these days to take a sabbatical or a career break in your late twenties or early thirties.
After several years of working, many choose to take a gap year to do something different. Self-fulfilment is ever more important, and therefore sticking to one career path doesn’t satisfy millennials anymore. One common reason for a late gap year is a quarter life crisis, which we discuss more in the post: How to use a quarter life crisis to your advantage?
When to take a career gap year?
As mentioned above, in the past it was common to take a gap year right before or after university. While it still is popular today, something is changing amongst millennials and there is a second wave of gap years happening a decade later in someone’s life. Yet, the question is really, when is the right time to take a gap year?
The answer is quite simple, and you are not going to like it.
There is not right time for a gap year.
As we discussed in our ultimate guide for taking a sabbatical, there will always be something coming up. For instance, there might be a promotion right around the corner, and if you take a gap year now it will take you longer to secure it.
Well if you are reading this post, you probably need a break, and that promotion won’t solve your problems. If you feel like you need to change something, whether professionally or personally, a career gap year might be the best thing you can do for yourself.
Hence, while there is no right time to take a gap year, the best time to do it is when you need it. And when you really need it, you will know that it’s the right thing to do, and you will feel sure about that decision. If you’re still unsure, check out these 6 signs that tell you’re ready to take a career break.
Gap year ideas to change your career
A gap year is your time to be free and do what you truly want to. You can be lazing around for the entire year or work on the next big invention of the century. It’s your choice!
If you want to change you career, you have to have some sort of a plan for the year, or time will just fly by. Here are 5 gap year ideas to help you reinvent your career.
1. Transform yourself through travel
Travelling is a great way to learn about yourself and grow. Through taking distance from your environment, routine and your comfort zone, you will have the mind space to rediscover yourself.
Having a routine has many positive aspects. It keeps us calmer and allows us to focus on things we are working towards. However, having a routine that you don’t like, or a routine that is not bringing you closer to your goals can be damaging.
Taking the necessary steps to reach your goals is much more difficult when you have a fixed routine. You might be too comfortable with the current situation and you will probably also be too busy to think about what you really want and how you can achieve it.
In order to move forward, it is essential to change your routine every year at least. We don’t mind to change every aspect of it, but at least some aspects. Check out our 10 minutes exercise to a happy life.
Taking distance from your routine and environment through travel is a great way to rethink about your priorities. Visiting other countries with different cultures will help you understand yourself and your culture better. You will be surprised how the things you find “normal” are totally different in other countries.
Spending your career gap year travelling will help you become a better version of yourself.
2. Take time to re-skill
In some cases we start our career in a certain profession or industry because it was appealing 5 years ago. Maybe our parents were proud of this career choice, or perhaps there were good financial prospects, or we simply didn’t know what else we would do.
Well, making a choice once, does not mean that you have to suffer for the rest of your life. If you wish to change direction and try something else, there is no better time than now.
You can take a gap year or a sabbatical with the purpose of re-skilling yourself. You already have some professional experience working, and probably developed many soft skills during this time. Learning new hard skills is totally doable and can enhance your overall value in the labour market.
If you wish to do something more creative such as graphic design or cooking, take time to gain those skills. It will require you to sign up to a course and find a mentor. Having a framework you can follow to learn the new skill is a great way to make the most of your gap year.
3. Try another job or career
A year is a long time to learn new skills and try out different things. If you have always wondered what it would be like to be a cook, take a job in the kitchen of a restaurant. There is no better way to learn if something suits you than by trying it out.
Don’t worry about your current skillset and experience in that particular job. What many employers look for in candidates is passion and interest in the job. Your story of stopping your career to try another one is totally legit.
If you share that story with your future employer, they will be happy to give you a chance. Also this way, they have a better understanding of what to expect when hiring you. It is better to be transparent and honest than to have to reveal your initial intentions later.
An internship might be a very good opportunity to try another career path. That way it is clear that you are there to learn as much as you are there to contribute. You will need to sacrifice your salary, but at the end of the day, you are doing it to be happier with your career in the future.
If you are passionate about helping the community and don’t have enough time in your daily life to do that, then taking a gap year to volunteer is a great choice for you. Taking a full-time approach will for a year will allow you to learn if this is something you want to dedicate more time for, and perhaps shift your career towards.
There are many options of doing volunteer work. You could join a local organisation that does charity work. On the other hand, you could also go abroad to volunteer and help people in need. If you are more entrepreneurial and cannot find the right organisation to join, you might also look into establishing your own charity or not-for-profit foundation.
Since there are already so many charity foundations out there, make sure that you are not creating one that does almost exactly the same as another foundation. You might be able to work with another foundation to do the things you care about and branch out from there.
5. Focus on a hobby
The last idea is to focus on a hobby you always wanted to spend more time on, but never got the chance. This might be anything, from creative writing to photography, or a specific sport.
Taking a gap year to really pursue your passion and focus on what you love will prove beneficial for you in the future. It is an investment of your time to develop in a hobby you love, so that later you can do it on the site next to your job. Or even better, you could perhaps make it a full-time job for yourself.
A career gap year will help you achieve your dreams
The 5 ideas above are all options you can take to reinvent your career. if you are unfulfilled and are dreaming of something different, take the necessary steps now rather than later. Things are not going to be easier in the future, and there is no better time than now to start chasing your dreams.
Make sure you plan you career gap year well, so that you can benefit the most from it.