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A gap year, but not as you imagined it

By Fi Darby | 27 March 2017

Keeping yourself motivated throughout a long career can be difficult in even the most interesting of jobs. It pays to keep an open mind regarding changing careers and you should take time once in a while to consider alternative options. Choosing to take a gap year from your career can be a productive way of taking stock, doing things you’ve always wanted to do and maybe even gaining new qualifications.

woman swimming in ocean

Making the gap year decision

Think carefully about what you want to achieve during your gap year. You might be looking for a new career or just a break from your existing one. We don’t recommend organising your entire gap year time, it always pays to be open to new options, but without a few goals you’ll find that your precious year is not as productive as it could have been.


Is obviously one serious option for a gap year and it is true that travel, particularly if you opt for volunteering or working overseas, will enhance your resume. However travel can be expensive and you may not want to do it on your own or for the whole year. The great news is that these days there is absolutely no reason you can’t fit in travel while gaining a new qualification. You could split these up and spend six months travelling and six months studying or with the ease and simplicity of online learning, there is nothing to stop you from studying while you travel.

young asian woman with glasses waiting for train

Volunteer work

Either abroad or in Australia is another great way to gain experience and enrich your resume. If your current job makes you feel a bit distant from people and real-life issues, this might be an option for you. Go Volunteer have a wide range of volunteering opportunities all across Australia including environmental and community support options. Volunteering and additional study are obviously great partners and gaining a recognised qualification could really compliment the experience and skills you gain from your voluntary work. For example if you did opt for a community-based volunteering option either here or overseas, you could compliment this with an online course in community services.

Making your gap year happen

A gap year is not a decision to be taken too lightly so start your planning in advance and do your homework.

The first thing to do is gather together some of your ideas and make sure you share them with other people. Your friends and colleagues may understand you better than you think and could make suggestions or points that you would not have thought of yourself.

Once you have a rough idea of what you want to achieve with your gap year then it is time to do some more detailed research. Make sure you look at all of the options for travel, volunteering, studying or anything else that you want to do. You will almost certainly be surprised how many different possibilities are out there. 

Deciding exactly when to talk to managers is an important decision. If you know them well you might feel you can talk to them early about your decision even before you start planning. If you are less certain about their response then it will pay to have a more detailed plan first.

Many companies understand that one way they can motivate and retain their employees is by offering sabbatical options. You might not think you want to go back into the same job after your gap year but it is good to keep your options open. You never know, the new qualifications and experiences that your gap year has given you might lead into a fresh and more well-paid role in your original organisation.

beautiful view of city lights

Taking a gap year as a career break is becoming increasingly popular with Australians of all ages. In today’s global economy there are so many options out there that it seems a shame not to take advantage of them and turn your gap year into a really productive time. We recommend being flexible in your planning, for example don’t rule study out just because you want to travel. With Upskilled’s wide variety of online courses, you could return after your gap year with new skills, new experience, new qualifications and maybe a completely new you.

More on how Travel can boost your career here

And some resume tips for scrubbing up that CV when you return from your gap year

View all Develop your career articles

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