Ellie is one of the Brand Ambassadors for STA Travel in Durham, UK. She’s an adventure-lover and answering the age old question of “what should I do after college?”. Here’s her take on the argument:
If you’re graduating (or have recently done so), it’s got to that stage in the year now where everyone is thinking about that looming reality on the horizon: Real Life. Lots of people are sneaking off to interview for big companies with acronym names, some are spending almost as much time on their grad school applications as their degrees, and the question everyone seems to be asking at the moment, is the slightly terrifying, “So, what are your plans for next year?”
But I’m not ready to deal with all that yet. My most detailed current plan is to have no plan. So I’m going to make the case for gap year over grad school in your first year after your degree. No job? No problem…
1. You Probably Need a Break…
At the end of this year, you’re going to be absolutely exhuasted. You’ll have worked your butt off during finals and worn yourself out going out every night afterwards, as well as actually joining those club meetings you never got round to in first year. It’s silly to go diving straight on into the working world, especially if you didn’t take time off before college. You’ve been in education for the past 22 years – so just give yourself a bit of freedom! Get a summer job, earn some cash, and get going.
2. …Or at Least You Will Soon
Even if you don’t feel like you need time away from a structured environment yet, I bet six months into a new job you’ll be desperate to jump on a plane and go somewhere exciting. Itchy feet is a very real problem, especially if you just got a post-college job because it was the sensible thing to do. Believe me, you’ll want to get away once you see your friends plastering their travels all over Instagram. But you could be that person!
3. You’ve Got No Responsibilities
The gap between college and employment is surely the best time to go traveling, because you’ve got nothing to tie you down. You don’t have a mortgage or bills to pay, you’re (probably) not married or with kids. Traveling at this point in your life is pain-free, a no-brainer. What’s stopping you?
4. The Best Time Is Always Now
The classic parental response to the idea of not getting a job immediately after college is probably something along the lines of “But you might as well try to get one now…” Equally though, you might as well travel now. You are in your twenties and you’ve got nothing to stop you from doing so apart from a vague nagging idea that you probably ‘should’ be getting a proper job. But there’s plenty of time for that (like, your whole life) and it will be much more difficult to put a career on pause to go traveling then. If you don’t go now then you will always find reasons not to.
5. You’ll Develop a Whole Other Skill Set
If the fun of travel itself isn’t enough to convince you to go, then maybe the fact that you’ll probably become a lot more employable will. It might be a bit of a cliché to say that travel teaches you a lot, but in practical terms it really does, especially if you venture a bit out of your comfort zone. You’re forced into independence and some level of responsibility, especially if you backpack on your own.
You’ll confront new languages and come into contact with all kinds of people. You’ll run into enough problems to fill every question in a job interview. “Tell me about a time when you had to show flexibility in a difficult situation…” “Well, I once showed up to a bus station only to find that there was no bus going to the place I was headed – so I just adjusted my travel plans and stopped off in an old mining town for a couple of days before I went on to the capital.” You get the idea.
6. You Get Bragging Rights
OK so in some ways this isn’t always a great thing – everyone hates the guy who can’t have a conversation without mentioning the time he hot-tubbed in the Ecuadorian cloud forest – but it is nice to have the occasional cool anecdote to drop in at a dinner party. It is also a given that you will come back with tons of great stories to tell everyone (or anyone who will listen). Even just for your own satisfaction, the stories will be pretty awesome.
OK, so I might end up with no money AND no job. But if I’ve had a year (or ten) of new experiences, new people and new places to show for that, then I don’t really care. I’ll travel on a shoestring (or half a shoestring), I’ll do a few work exchanges, I’ll pick up jobs here and there along the way. And who knows, I might discover a whole new career path while I’m chatting to someone I meet in a hostel.
Sound appealing? We think so. Check out more from Ellie’s blog which she updates sporadically at www.bohemiance.com (though occasionally her degree gets in the way).