Making Your Gap Year “Work” For You

When students elect to take a gap year, they often have multiple goals.  After many years of school, it can simply be enjoyable to do something different for a brief time before embarking upon a career or a course of study at university.  A well-spent gap year can also serve to impress potential employers or a university faculty.

Volunteering abroad is a popular way to organise a gap year, but many young people are not in a position to go without a salary for months at a time.  Those without abundant financial resources of their own will need to find a way to pay their own way if they want to take advantage of a gap year abroad.  Fortunately, this is entirely possible because many gap year programmers are structured around a working holiday that can deliver many of the same benefits as can volunteering abroad.

Boarding schools abroad: a gateway to popular destinations

One common way for a prospective student to enjoy a gap year abroad is to work with an organisation that arranges placement for assistants to work in boarding schools.  These are located in various nations such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India.  For the more adventurous, there are also similar schools in nations where English is much less dominant as a spoken language; these include such countries as China and Thailand.

Boarding schools have an inherent advantage over other kinds of working holiday environments.  Because the workplace itself is structured as a live-in environment for the regular students, hired teaching assistants can often enjoy room and board as part of their remuneration.  This frees student tourists on a gap year from the need to navigate the wider world of a foreign country immediately.  Instead of searching frantically for an apartment in a strange city where customs and language may be very different, these student tourists can set up house in a relatively familiar environment and then venture out to enjoy the national culture when they feel comfortable to do so.  This is made even more feasible by the fact that a working holiday will pay a small amount, often furnishing funds weekly so that student tourists can frequently go out on the town and learn more about their temporary homeland.

One of the most common assignments during a working holiday gap year is to teach English, but boarding schools also sometimes need teaching assistants for other subjects.

Requirements for a working holiday gap year

Organisations that place students look for strong interpersonal skills such as initiative, patience, and tolerance of other cultures, communication skills, and leadership.

In addition to these, there are some purely regulatory requirements that must also be met.  Many destinations, for example, will require a visa – it must be one that not only allows entry but also gives permission to take employment whilst in the country. Some destinations will also require a round of immunizations to help students resist native tropical diseases.

Lest these details sound daunting, students should be aware that any reputable placement organisation would help them through the process, so that all requirements are met before they travel.

The best way to get started on a working holiday gap year is to find a sponsoring organization.  One of these will help you explore the various opportunities available in your chosen destination.

For many students, the only way to afford a gap year is to make a working holiday out of it.  Making a year abroad “work” for you, however, will do more than allow you to enjoy a year in another country.  It will also demonstrate to employers and university officials that you have the perseverance and drive to attain your future goals.

Top Image by JD | Photography