Someone feeding baby elephants

January 12, 2024, by aayjr12

What could I do on a gap year after university, and why should I take one?

By Josephine Ruffles, student blogger © Pixabay by user 7523944

A gap year has a preconceived notion that people who go on them have no set career plans. However, if you plan properly and decide what you want to achieve from this period off, it can be incredibly productive and useful for your future career. Here I will touch upon what you can do on your year off, and what I recommend.

Work experience

There are many different ways to gain work experience. Through 9-5’s, internships, international and local voluntary work, and part-time roles. For example, if you’re looking for a job in the public sector post-university, Bunac offers multiple international internships for recent graduates. If you’re more interested in engineering or mathematics and want some experience in this before starting a full-time job and career, private companies such as Autodesk offer summer internships, with Haleon offering full year placements. These are incredible opportunities to learn more about the industry, gain experience from learning, and add more valuable skills to your CV.


If volunteering for a charity sounds more enticing, there is a plethora of charities to choose from to do a year with. There are many local Nottingham-based charities or businesses where you can volunteer for free. If you’re looking to volunteer to gain specific experience in an industry such as journalism, I recommend applying for the Left Lion summer internship writing programme. They are an incredible Nottingham-based arts magazine, working on mainly a volunteer basis. If you’re looking into charities that are local and help those in need, happy to learn new skills and volunteer your time, I recommend  Mojatu Foundation, The Studio, or Refugee Roots.

Charity work abroad

Moving further from Nottingham and using a year abroad to volunteer while travelling is a great idea, I did it, but it can sometimes be difficult to find the right programme for you. If you’re looking into animal based volunteer schemes, Shamwari Reserve in South Africa was incredible and had lots of post graduates involved in the experience. If you would like a bigger group environment and volunteering under a bigger organisation, Raleigh International, Think Pacific, and The Leap are really good places to look. Although there may be added cost going abroad you can save up by working for a few months, or in some cases apply for a grant from either the university or a national one such as the Lord Mayor’s Trust.

What I would recommend

  • Proper planning: If you plan out a year properly, you can use the time to learn new skills and gain a greater experience. It also helps give you direction and understand what you do impacts potential career paths.
  • Thorough research: If you research well enough you can apply for grants to pay for parts of your trip, or you can find ways in which to cut your costs down.
  • Keep a record: keep a diary of you’ve done, achieved, and learnt throughout and soon after the experience so that you can come back to it in the future to use on your CV or reference in interviews.

If you’re graduating in 2024 and you’re thinking of taking a year out, make the most of it by using your time to build your CV.

Posted in Graduating in 2024