By Ali Banas, Peer Advisor
So…You’re considering a gap year. This isn’t an easy decision for some, but for others it makes perfect sense. Whether you just need a break and want to gain experience in your field, you’re feeling indecisive about your path, or you know that you need time to gain insight on your career, a gap year might be right for you. There are many things you can do during this time, like traveling, working, or gaining experience. When you’re wondering if this time is right for you, consider a few things. Can you afford to live and complete your goals without scholarships or major funding from the university? Will this motivate you to return to school and help your focus? What do you want to gain from this experience? Here I will discuss a few of the most popular things to do during a gap year.
Completing lab work while in school can be time consuming, and therefore overwhelming. The best way to get involved on campus is through professors and researchers, asking about faculty-led projects. These do not always have to be completed while in school, so it’s best to reach out and ask for opportunities that would be available to you during your gap year. If there is another research lab you were interested in, it is best to reach out and talk to representatives or organizations that lead the type of lab you are looking for. Gap years can also be a great time for networking. Get your feet wet in different types of research or see if the path you wished to take is one that would fit you well.
If you are in the medical field, you know how important shadowing can be. Use personal connections to spend a few days here and there shadowing the career professional of your choice, to see if this path is one you would be interested in. Medical professionals are not the only ones who offer shadow days, and students in other majors/career paths should be looking for these opportunities as well! Ask around your college, friends, professors, or advisors for helpful connections that may be able to assist you in finding a person to shadow. Shadowing during a gap year could really help you have a realistic view of what the working environments are really like.
Definitely one of the most common things to do during a gap year is to work. This is a valuable way to save up some money, gain experience, and meet new people that could help shape your career. A bit more of a commitment than shadowing, this is option is great for those who are trying to become more financially stable, or those who are trying to experience their field of choice hands-on. Whether full-time or part-time, working during a gap year can be very beneficial.
There are so many options for volunteer experiences around the world. This can be a great way to experience different cultures while helping a good cause. Volunteering doesn’t have to be in your field, but it couldn’t hurt if it was. Volunteering can be a great resume booster while giving you experience, networking opportunities, and the opportunity for exposure to things you might not get to see otherwise.
There are many options to consider for a gap year, and it is important to pick what will be best for you. Consider your options, and enjoy Canes!