Gap Year - A Year Out
What is it all about?
What you choose to do in your year out is totally up to you, but it is worth remembering that it will say a lot about you. Whatever you decide to do it is going to make an appearance on your CV, so you may as well make the year as exciting and rewarding for yourself, as well as good reading for any academic institution. If properly planned, a year out can say as much, if not more, about you as an individual, as any set of exam results ever can.
What can you do?
Options open to you include:
- Being a volunteer in the UK or Overseas
- Living abroad on a Cultural Exchange
- Participating in an Expedition
- Joining a structured work experience opportunity
- Learning a new skill on a Course in the UK or Overseas
How long can I go for?
Where can I go?
Deciding on the right organisation and programme can prove to be difficult.
Below are some of the things that you may want to consider before making the final decision and a set of questions that you will need to ask.
Look at who takes part and how participants are selected
- Age range of participants.
- Selection criteria - who are they looking for and what is the interview procedure?
- Choice of different programmes?
- Number of participants selected on each programme?
Who benefits from the programme?
- What will I gain from doing this?
- Will anyone else benefit from this placement apart from me?
- Why are UK young people needed on this and who asked for us to do it?
- Will the programme continue after I have left?
What will I be doing?
- How has the programme been chosen and checked out?
- Has a representative of the sending organisation had a good look?
- Are the host organisations paid to take me?
- Do they pay me?
- What exactly will I be doing?
- Will I be alone, who will I be placed with?
- What can I expect in terms of accommodation and food? You will need to be realistic here and expect local food - not mouth-watering culinary delights.
- What is expected of me?
- What will be my responsibilities?
- Do I have to sign anything?
- Is there a written agreement between the organisation and me?
What's the cost?
- What is the precise programme cost and what does it cover?
- What is the recommended budget for extras?
- If I have to pay a deposit, is it refundable?
- When and how do I pay?
- What happens if I cancel?
- If I have to raise funds, does the organisation give advice?
How does the organisation operate?
- Why does the organisation exist?
- How long has it been around?
- Is it a partnership, private company, public company, registered charity, sole trader or other?
- Where is it registered?
- Examples of successful programmes and a chat to past participants can shed a lot of light very quickly and easily on whether you feel the programme is right for you.
- What if there is an emergency?
- Does the organisation have sufficient funds to cope with emergencies?
- What are the organisation's policies on Equal Opportunities?
Before you set off
- Who is responsible for travel arrangements?
- This includes travel visas and work permits!
- Who provides insurance and what is included in the cover?
- Health, possessions, cancellation and repatriation?
- What about inoculations and health precautions?
- Help and advice please!
- How about training and pre-departure briefing - do I get any of that?
Safety and support whilst on your placement
- Who is the person responsible for me at the programme location?
- Where is the nearest representative of the organisation?
- What if there is a major emergency - can somebody deal with this and get me home?
- If I have a problem with my placement, can I chat to somebody?
- What is included in the living arrangements?
- Who selects and checks out the accommodation?
- If staying with host families are they paid or are they volunteers?
After you return
- Will the organisation have any contact with me when I return?
- Can my experience be of any use to future participants?
- Will I get a reference or certificate, indeed anything to prove that I was actually there and completed the programme?
- Will I be debriefed?