Taking time out

Many graduates try out different options by taking time out to pursue short-term experiences. Learn about some of these options and how to discuss your experiences with recruiters.

Why do it? 

Many graduates take time out after university, sometimes referred to as a ‘gap year’. It can be easier to take time out now rather than later in your career when you may have financial and other commitments. Employers often regard this experience favourably, particularly if you have thought about why it is relevant and can talk confidently about the transferable skills you gained. 

What do graduates do? 

You could take time out to travel which can give you an idea of where in the world you’d like to live or gain experience in an occupational area that you are not necessarily considering longer term. You may choose an opportunity created by an organisation or create your own. Remember to conduct thorough research.  

You can design a year or more however you wish, the list is endless: 

  • Work experience – placements, part-time jobs, shadowing, insights days 

  • Volunteer – at home or abroad (finances permitting or in addition to paid experience) 

  • Develop language skills – complete courses, teach English abroad 

  • Learn something new – MOOCs, short courses, interest courses such as music 

  • Interest groups – related to a sector or career, based on hobbies, skill development 

  • Overseas expeditions (review the costs involved and any fundraising requirements) – e.g. conservation, research, charity

More information about teaching English abroad  

Whatever you choose to do, ensure you plan ahead. Application deadlines for graduate schemes and postgraduate study are often months before the start date, and in some cases, an entire year.  

Talking about your time out with recruiters 

If you take time out to volunteer or complete additional learning or training, this may feel easier to explain. Travelling, exploring interests, joining clubs, and networking can all be positioned equally positively in your applications: 

  • Gaining an insight into different careers to help you to decide your next steps 

  • Developing work-related skills e.g., teamwork, communication, and problem solving

  • Taking the chance to do something different  

    • giving something back to your community  

    • living abroad to explore different cultures 

    • dedicating time to a cause you are passionate about 

  • If you have done something directly related to a career such as learning new Programming languages, focus on its relevance in your applications