7 Things to Do in Your Gap Year that Will Look Great on Your Resume

  • As you adapt to an unfamiliar environment, traveling helps you develop skills like resilience, financial planning, confidence, and cross-cultural communication.
  • Nothing says responsible more than looking after kids.
  • English is fast becoming a world language, offering endless opportunities for you to teach English either at home or abroad.

A gap year has become a well-established rite of passage among high school seniors. However, the excitement surrounding this concept can lead to the temptation to let real life pass you by. Instead of indulging in a hedonistic existence of parties and booze or spending your gap year on your parents’ couch, why not do something valuable that can help you later on. The key is to ensure you gap year activities are not only fun but also allow you to gain knowledge and skills that will add value to your resume. That being said, here’s what to do during your gap year that will look good on your resume:


Traveling, especially abroad, allows you to explore the world and opens your eyes to different cultures and places. As you adapt to an unfamiliar environment, traveling helps you develop skills like resilience, financial planning, confidence, and cross-cultural communication. To an employer, all these are indicators of independence, maturity, and exposure to the world. Traveling abroad can be quite expensive. Luckily, some gap year adventure travel programs connect students to jobs, while others subsidize travel costs in exchange for volunteering. You can also fund your travel expenses through online freelance work, travel blogging, house-sitting, cruise ship employment, selling your travel photos, and so on.

An au pair is a servant from a foreign country working for, and living as part of, a host family. Typically, au pairs take on a share of the family’s responsibility for childcare as well as some housework, and receive a monetary allowance for personal use. Au pair arrangements are subject to government restrictions which specify an age range usually from mid-late teens to mid to late twenties; some countries explicitly limit the arrangement to females.

Au Pair

Au Pair jobs provide food, compensation, and accommodation, making them an obvious choice if you love being with kids and want to make some cash. You get to entertain the children, teach English, and get a healthy dose of your host family’s native language and traditions. You can try out new things when you’re not working, as you explore the city. Nothing says responsible more than looking after kids; plus, you’ll learn to be more creative as you come up with different ways to keep them entertained.

Experiential Learning

While gap years are all about having fun and not being in school for a year, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should put learning on hold altogether. With a gap year, the whole world is your classroom and you can grow through experiential learning. This involves taking on more than academic topics to learn things that you never could get in a classroom setting. Hands-on learning could be anything from basic first aid courses to developing leadership skills, just to name a few. Choose a program that delivers the right learning opportunities based on your passions and what you’d like to work on.

An internship is a period of work experience offered by an organization for a limited period of time. Once confined to medical graduates, the term is now used for a wide range of placements in businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies. They are typically undertaken by students and graduates looking to gain relevant skills and experience in a particular field.

Get Work Experience

When it comes to productive gap year activities, gaining practical work experience through internships or paid employment offers the perfect business and pleasure combo. Internships are your typical resume boosters since they allow students to develop work-related skills and build relationships. The only downside is the fact that internships don’t pay as much. Gap years aren’t free since you still need to support yourself. In case money is a priority, paid employment seems like a more ideal option. You get to gain new skills while earning money in the process. When you start applying for jobs in the future, you’ll already have some working experience to draw on.

Learn a New Language

In this era of globalisation, employers are looking for employees who can speak multiple languages. As companies try to serve diverse cultures and do international businesses, effective communication with those around us and the rest of the world is increasingly becoming important across disciplines. Language immersion programs are by far the fastest way to learn a foreign language. It goes without saying that learning a language allows you to add a valuable and practical skill to your CV. It also improves your communication skills and opens you up for more international job opportunities.

There are many different programs that exist to help people to teach abroad. If a person knows that they want to teach abroad but they aren’t sure if they’re able to make the transition, they can pick a teaching program that goes from a semester to a couple years. There are also programs where one can switch positions with a teacher overseas. When picking a program make sure its a credible program. Three often-used paths for American teachers are teaching at a Department of Defense school, teaching at an international school, or working independently at any school accepting foreign applicants.

Teach English

English is fast becoming a world language, pushing non-native English speakers to enhance their knowledge of the language. This offers endless opportunities for you to teach English either at home or abroad. Teaching English overseas will, however, require you to obtain a TEFL qualification. Generally, teaching helps you develop a number of soft skills, including effective communication, organization, time-management, leadership, and the ability to work with multiple personalities, among other things.


Volunteering is one of the most commonly thought of things to do when taking a gap year; after all, the world needs more volunteers. There are tons of volunteering opportunities in your local community, state, country, and all around the world. It could be anything from teaching children in an orphanage, volunteering at the local animal shelter, helping to build a school in a third-world country, wildlife conservation, and so on. Whichever route you choose, ensure it’s something you are passionate about. Gap year volunteer programs can offer incredible work experience, help you learn new skills, and allow you to contribute to communities at home or abroad, which can be very rewarding.

The Bottom Line

There sure are countless things you can do during your gap year. This text provides just but a few tips on how to spend a gap year productively. So, do your research and find fun gap year activities that also let you learn important life skills along the way.

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Maryn Mcdonnell

Maryn is a tech enthusiast and creative content writer. She is interested in all tech-related stuff, digital marketing, travel, fitness and personal improvement. Find Maryn on Twitter @MarynMcdonnell

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