In the last day of my internship during college years, I remember that my (very first) boss told me that she is going to retired in the following month after 23 years dedicating herself for the company. Instead to seek another job or building a business like every retired employees do, she told me that she will take an unconventional path by taking a gap year. I was in awe. Besides she will following her daughter who is studying in the Great Britain, as I know, it seems not easy for the people in the Baby Boomers or Gen X to take a gap year even though it just for several months. But I understand that she deserves a break after 23 years staying in the same company, something which my generation will almost never do.
My superficial understanding said that gap year is still uncommon in Indonesia. To those who are still not familiar with this term, gap year I usually a constructive 12 months break taken from study or work in order for the individual to pursue other interest, break, or generally markedly different from their regular life or line of work. As such, a gap year can be any break taken between life stages, whether that is between school and university, between university and formal work, or when changing careers or going into retirement later on in life. Like my boss did, it doesn’t have to be 12 months long.
Following this definition, if you are a professional taking a break from your formal work life in order to pursue other interest, you’re more likely to refer to this year as sabbatical year. You will spend your time pursuing activities that will either greatly supplement your regular line of work, upgrade your skills, or will be completely unrelated to it.
Whether this is work for you or otherwise, here is the benefits of taking gap year as my boss said:
Enjoy a once in a lifetime experience. It’s not often you’ll get the chance to take 1, 2 or even 12 months off to break for anything -travel the world, work, volunteer activity. Imagine if you do something amazing like teaching English in the rural area of China, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever do anything like that again. Whether you travel alone or with friends it’s certainly will have a big impact on your life and change you as a person.
Step outside your comfort zone. Gap year travel is an opportunity to do something new outside of your comfort zone. Living and working in an unfamiliar environment will shape you become more independent person. You’ll also develop a much better understanding of the wider world and learn how to deal with difficult or unusual situations whenever they might arise. And obviously, your family and friends might be surprised with your transformation.
Meet new people. Whatever you do during your gap year, it is as social as it gets. By sharing the same amazing and memorable experiences with the new people you meet along the way, you’ll make unique friendships that last a lifetime.
Take a break and return with refreshed minds. You can take a gap year at any age. By taking time out, you can take a step back from what you’re doing and think about where you really want to go in life. Chances are you’ll return with new motivation and the confidence to make in your next steps. This is equally true for older people who take this path. Taking time out can breathe new life into their career.
Add unique experience to your resume. Gap year with a beneficial activity can make a big difference to your future employment prospects. Of course, it depends on what you do. The fact that not many employers are impressed by months or years full travelling experience. But if you work or volunteer, it really can help you stand out from the crowd, as you gain new skills and confidence that show your maturity and commitment. Spending your gap year doing something related to your future career can give you a brand new start that makes everything different.
We need to realize that gap year is not for everyone. There are many things to consider once we made the decision to take a gap year. From budgeting, making checklist, deciding where to go, how long, what to do, until whether this is work for you and what you might gain from it. But once you do and decided to it, it surely will worth every step.