Reimagining your gap year - Career HQ
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Reimagining your gap year

You’ve got a spot in the course you want and the future seems set. Are you excited to start studying again or are you in need of a break? 

2020 has been a tough year for many, and for those who’re just finishing their HSC, it’s been particularly hard. Many students had hoped to have a gap year exploring far-flung places in South America, getting a part-time job in a European city or volunteering in a developing country. None of these options look very likely right now and probably won’t be for some time to come. So what now?

If your plan had always been to escape the books and enjoy some well-earned downtime overseas, then a rethink is in order. Currently, it’s impossible to know what COVID travelling restrictions will be in place in 2021 so what are your options if you’re staying in Australia?

First up there’s the obvious one, don’t take a gap year… That probably doesn’t sound great if you’ve been thinking about the break away from studying for a long time. There are lots of advantages to going straight on to further study after high school though. Your brain when you finish high school is crammed with knowledge, and it’s all fresh. There’s no trying to remember or relearning of statistical analysis equations or postmodern narratives because they’re all still clear in your mind. It’s also a chance to find a new social group, try new sports or join new clubs. The major plus is that the quicker you complete any further study the sooner you finish studying all together, which can seem pretty appealing sometimes.

If you’d planned to backpack nomad style round parts of the globe, you can still do that, just within your own country. Young people came from all over the world – pre COVID – to do exactly that but young Australians don’t seem to rate it. Last year survey data from a well-known travel site claimed most Australians have visited less than 1% of Australia and almost a quarter of all Aussies were embarrassed by how little of the country they’d seen. Now’s your chance to get out and explore your own backyard.

If you were looking for some basic work experience mixed with an amazing trip, that’s still possible. Fruit picking, waiting tables, working behind a bar, cleaning hotel rooms, being a receptionist are just a few of the many many different roles available to school leavers that can be seasonal or short term. With some simple quick courses such as a Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate, barista training, or a silver service waitering course, you can work at venues all round Australia, some with staff accommodation as part of the deal.

For those that were headed somewhere remote to help build schools, teach children or provide vital aid in some form, try to remember the old phrase ‘charity starts at home’. There are lots of organisations here in Australia looking for volunteers, and COVID has increased the demand for people needing a helping hand. All kinds of charities including food banks, mental health, homelessness and pet welfare charities are seeing an increase in demand since COVID hit and need more volunteers to continue providing services to all those in need. There’s never been a better time or greater demand in Australia for those wanting to help others.

If you decide a gap year is still the right move for you, then don’t be disheartened, there are still lots of opportunities to start exploring your own country, potential careers, new friendships and your future.