A gap year is a period of time (usually one or two years) between undergraduate and graduate schools. Students typically use this time to work, travel, volunteer, and more. Reasons to take a gap year can include, but are not limited to:
- Real-world Experience: Some careers or programs prefer for students to have work experience in their chosen field before obtaining a graduate degree. Other students may want a break from education before beginning graduate school.
- Improve Your Application: An internship or research experience in your chosen field after college will increase your exposure to the industry. Additional experience can be helpful for graduate school applications and
canprove your dedication to the field. Supervisors during internships or jobs can also be an excellent source of letters of recommendation.
- Career Exploration: If you are unsure of your career path, taking a year off for an internship or job can help you determine if a field is a good match for you.
- International Travel: A gap year is an excellent time to travel and live abroad. There are many international opportunities and sources of funding for students looking to spend a year or two abroad.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What are my goals for the year? What do I want to accomplish that I cannot do in graduate school?
- Where do I want to spend my gap year? There are gap year programs and opportunities in many different countries for people who are interested in working or volunteering abroad. Do your research if you are considering spending your gap year in an unfamiliar area.
- How will I afford a gap year? Unpaid internships and volunteer experiences may require you to find funding or take a second job.
- How will I discuss this on a resume or in an interview? While gap year experiences do not have to be related to a future career path, employers or graduate programs will want to know how you spent this time.
- How long do I want my gap to be? Gap "years" can be as short as 4-6 months or multiple years long, depending on the program and on your personal goals.
- Government Internships
- Gap Work – website with a variety of ideas and resources for gap year jobs and volunteer opportunities
- CoolWorks – job website that specializes in seasonal jobs at places like national parks or ski resorts
- Teach for America
- City Year
- Service Year – year-long paid opportunities with public organizations and nonprofits
- Green Corps Environmental Leadership Training Program – year-long program that provides training in environmental organizing and advocacy
- Council on Foreign Relations Research and Program Associates - internships and programs for those interested in international relations, communications, and political science
- Capitol Fellows Programs - fellowship opportunities working with California's government
International Programs and Resources
- Global Service Corps - volunteer opportunities in Cambodia and Tanzania
- Center on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) - offers a wide variety of programs for studying and working abroad
- Peace Corps
- Japan Exchange and Teaching Program
- Working holiday visas allow young people to travel and work abroad without prior sponsorship, usually for one or two years. Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Korea, and Singapore offer working holiday visas for American citizens.