Graduating is an incredible milestone in one’s life, but it shouldn’t only be marked by the start of a 9 to 5 job behind a desk.
When I graduated as a Perit (I kid you not! Yes I am an architect), I knew that, that particular line of work was not for me. But my five years at university, coupled with the money my parents had thrown into my education, led me to do it for seven years. I think I was decent enough at it; I may not have designed anything like the Shard in London or the Taj Mahal in India, but the ones I did design are still standing.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I don’t regret those seven years, but one thing I do regret not doing is actually taking a gap year – one during which I could have done things which I have never had the time or the luxury to do since and which I probably never will.
So here’s a list of five things I would have done had I taken that gap year:
Travel: Although I have travelled quite a bit in this lifetime (I have been told I was a nomad in a past life, I’ll have you know…), there are a lot of trips I should have taken before I started working. I would have loved to buy a railway ticket to travel around Europe, for example, and hitch hike and backpack all over the place. It would have also been nice to go to Australia and enjoy the experience of being in that country. Unfortunately, when you grow older, leaving the country, your family and your job behind for a long period of time becomes (seemingly) impossible – so do it while you can!
Boost Your CV: Having work experience is crucial for your CV; being a boring old fart who has done nothing but get straight as at university and worked from 9 to 5 from the age of 20 is not. Make sure you use your gap year to try out new things and don’t be afraid of failing. Try out a job you would have never thought of doing or take up a language, go to drama lessons or start a new sport – in other words, do something that builds character.
Volunteer: Giving back is a beautiful thing but, unlike giving €10 every time there is a telethon asking you to, volunteering actually gives you the satisfaction of doing something that makes a real difference. It also teaches you about the importance of human life and helps you appreciate how good you have it. Ultimately, just because you’re taking a gap year, does not mean you should be selfish.
Indulge in Culture: Read, go to museums, watch old Hollywood films, take a course in art history, lose yourself in documentaries and go to as many places, restaurants, bars and clubs as you can. Meet new people and mingle with those who lead a completely different life. Try new things and learn from them and you will grow as a person. Make the life you lead worth living and remember that as a human being, your life should involve more than just eating, working and sleeping.
Sleep: Yes, I know it’s ironic after the last point, but seriously – enjoy sleeping! Set your alarm for 7.30am, wake up and let the knowledge that you can now sleep in until 2pm sink in. Appreciate that this will probably be the only time you can afford to do it. Live it, love it, cherish it!
Is there anything you would add to Evelyn’s list? Do you agree that students should take a gap year right after graduating? Let us know in the comments’ section below.