Taking time out - a 'gap year' - before entering employment or further study can be a great way to make you stand out in applications (as well as being an enjoyable, life-changing experience). It can help to expand your horizons, acquire new skills and experiences and provide added self-confidence, independence and adaptability. It may help you decide what you want to do in your career and determine what you want to achieve in the future.
Employers appreciate the benefits of taking time out, but be prepared to clearly demonstrate what you gained from the experience. The better planned and focused your gap experience is, the more benefit you are likely to get from it. Popular options include travelling, work experience and volunteering.
However, before you start packing, there are many factors you'll need to consider. First, explore some of the factors you need to consider, then use the listed some resources to help you plan.
How do I know if it's the right thing for me?
The 'Should I take a gap year?' article from Prospects can help you consider the advantages, and disadvantages, of taking a gap year to help you decide if one is right for you and when.
The 'Year Out Group' offer advice on what you should consider when choosing a gap year programme and relevant questions to ask. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office also offers a safety checklist for those considering taking time out abroad.
What are some ideas of things I could do?
The 'What are my Gap Year options?' article from TargetJobs explores your gap year options, with advice on organisations that can support you.
BUNAC offers a free gap year mentoring scheme to students, with one-to-one support to help you design a fulfilling gap year. This can be done by phone, Skype, email or face-to-face and there's no obligation to sign up for a BUNAC programme after your initial consultation.
Talk it through
Don't forget you can always make a careers appointment to speak to an adviser to get more support with your gap year planning.