Taking a Gap Year

Careers today are not what they were several years ago. People traditionally viewed careers as a sort of upward staircase from job to job, more often than not with just one or, at most a few firms. Today, mergers, outsourcings, consolidations and more or less endless downsizings have changed the ground rules, at least for most people. Many people do still move up from job to job. But more often they find themselves having to reinvent themselves – thus, the sales rep, laid off by an FMCG company because of increased competition from MNCs may reinvent his career for the next few years as an insurance agent. There is an increasing trend towards such reinventing of careers in India.

Careers today differ in other ways from a few years ago. With increasing number of women pursuing professional and managerial careers, families must balance the challenges associated with dual career pressures. At the same time what people want from their careers seems to be changing. Whereas baby boomers — those retiring in the next 10 or so years – by and large were job and employer focused. Those entering the job market now often value work arrangements that provide more opportunities for having more balanced lives.

These changes have implications for the human resource function. A few years ago, the assumption – the psychological contract between the employer and the employee was often ‘You be loyal to us and we’ll take care of you’. Today employees know they must take care of themselves.

Students confused about their career options are both a common and pitiable sight. But what is more disheartening is that a student making a wrong career decision and either sticking to it forcefully for fear of wasting precious years or switching streams much later after discovering his true ambitions . For such students who are unsure about what they want to do, taking a year of to evaluate available options and pursuing the one that suits them best significantly reduces the chances of making a wrong career decision.

Taking a Gap year helps you evaluate your options before finally deciding on a career you want to pursue.

A gap year is the time one takes off from regular schooling to pursue various other activities that can help one determine the career one wants to take up. A popular phenomenon in the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia a gap year gives one the opportunity to take up activities like traveling, pursue various kinds of jobs and read extensively among other things. Generally a gap year is taken after completing one’s junior college (class 12) or post graduation. In India since this phenomenon is not popular students prefer to take a break after graduation.

In India, students are unable to give themselves time to recognize their individual ambitions and abilities owing to the pressure of completing one’s education at one go. Add to this the pressure of scoring well and participating in extra and curricular activities that leave no time to evaluate one’s options.

A gap year helps in developing interests, recognizing and honing one’s talent. As a result of travel and exploration, you develop communications skills interacting with different people makes one realize a lot about life. A gap year is the best thing for a person who is confused about his /her future and would like to have sometime to make a well thought decision. A gap year enables one to gain practical knowledge which is vital in today’s dynamic world. Students taking a year off can develop their personality skills and pursue add on courses to make their CV more impressive. Students who want to pursue their career in the field of science can work as lab assistants, assist doctors or engineers during this break. A person of commerce faculty can do a short term course in accounting or management . Arts students can try their hands in drama, literature , designing and other like disciplines.

Although not imperative a gap year can help you immensely in making the right career decision.