9 Gap-Year Jobs That Look Great on Resumes
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- Understandings about how you should spend a gap year are changing post-pandemic.
- Many students now use their gap years to build good resumes.
- Teaching abroad or working as an au pair can allow you to travel and gain experience.
- Working as a research assistant, intern, or freelancer can help you understand your field.
Taking a gap year used to mean taking time off school to travel or rest. But when the pandemic upended campus life, students began to rethink the gap year. Now, those who take a gap year often see it as a way to jump-start their careers and gain real-world job experience.
A recent survey by the Gap Year Association found that 88% of students who took gap years felt their experiences made them more employable. Furthermore, students surveyed who took a gap year reported that they were more satisfied in the jobs they eventually found. Gap years provided students with the necessary time to gain experience in their prospective career fields.
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So how can you build a good resume while on your gap year? Below, we explore some gap year jobs that look great on resumes.
Teaching English Abroad
Teaching English abroad can allow you to explore a new country while adding some solid skills to your resume. Experience working internationally can show employers that you are adaptable and willing to take on new challenges.
Pay for English teachers abroad varies depending on the country. According to Go Overseas, cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi in The United Arab Emirates currently have the highest teaching salaries, estimated to be between $3,500 to $5,500 a month. In Japan, Qatar, and Kuwait, English teachers can earn salaries between $2,000 and $5,000 a month.
Even if you aren't going into education, teaching abroad is a great way to combine travel and work experience during your gap year.
The entry-level office assistant job can show future employers that you are organized and understand the daily tasks that keep a company running smoothly. Working as an office assistant also allows you to observe what a particular field is truly like.
If you want to use your gap year to clarify what kind of field or company you want to work for, an office assistant job might be a good fit.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), administrative assistants earned a median annual salary of $39,680 as of May 2021. However, office assistants may make more or less depending on the industry and location.
Like teaching abroad, tutoring can help you highlight marketable skills like creative problem-solving, adaptability, and effective communication with different people. If you tutor online, you can maintain some flexibility in terms of where and how you work.
As of May 2022, Payscale estimates that tutors make an average of about $18.30 an hour.
If you enjoy the challenge of working with different kinds of students and want to learn how to communicate complex information clearly, tutoring can be a good resume builder.
Freelancers offer their unique skills and services to clients on a contractual basis. Freelancing is a great fit for creatives like artists, writers, or graphic designers. Gap year students who choose to freelance can maintain flexible hours and determine how and where they work.
On a resume, freelancing can show potential employers that you are independent, self-motivated, and able to solve problems on the job. With freelancing, you can also gain hands-on experience with various clients, which can boost your customer service skills.
Salaries for freelancers vary depending on the kinds of services they offer. Rather than seek out six-figure freelancing fields for your gap year, try to offer services that capitalize on your skillset — whether that be writing, coding, illustrating, or something else.
Entry-Level Work for a Company That Provides Tuition Reimbursement
Students who take a gap year increasingly choose to work entry-level jobs at companies like Amazon, Walmart, and McDonald's. The reason? Many of these companies offer tuition reimbursement, which helps student employees pay for college.
But students can gain more than just tuition assistance from these kinds of jobs. Customer service experience, time management skills, and creative problem-solving are all attractive qualities to add to your resume.
The minimum wage varies from state to state. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C., Washington, Massachusetts, and California have some of the highest minimum wages in the country as of 2022.
Au pairs live abroad with host families, offering childcare in exchange for a place to live and a small stipend. Au pairs can immerse themselves in their new country and culture. Often, they can pick up or hone skills like language acquisition and the ability to work with people from different cultural backgrounds.
Being fluent in another language and knowing how to work cross-culturally are good skills for a resume. Like teaching English abroad, working as an au pair shows employers that you are flexible and able to get out of your comfort zone.
Because au pairs exchange their services for room and board, they are not paid a standard salary. But au pairs can expect a small weekly stipend, which varies from country to country.
Work for a Nonprofit
Nonprofit organizations are structured like corporations or companies but, unlike those businesses, they do not make a profit. These tax-exempt operations instead work for the public good. Types of nonprofits include churches, public charities, political organizations, and museums.
Working for a nonprofit during a gap year can help future employers understand the social causes or issues you're passionate about. At a nonprofit, you can gain first-hand experience with many different stakeholders — from donors to government agencies and the public.
Payscale estimates nonprofit workers made an average of $58,000 a year as of November 2020.
Your plans for higher education might include graduate work in a specific field like medicine or law. Working as a research assistant in your prospective field during a gap year can help you gain essential skills for your graduate work and future career.
No matter the field, research assistants work directly with established members of their industry. They support research endeavors by creating literature reviews, summarizing research, gauging a project's progress, and much more.
Pay varies depending on the kind of field you work in. According to the BLS, social science research assistants earned a median annual wage of $49,720 in May 2021.
Internships are designed for students who want to apply the skills they've learned in the classroom to real-world positions in their chosen field. Sometimes unpaid, internships allow students to experience what a specific company or career path is like.
There is a range of benefits for students who pursue internships. If you have the time and the resources to pursue unpaid labor during your gap year, an internship can show future employers that you are dedicated to your chosen field.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gap Years
Is a gap year worth it?
In the wake of the pandemic, gap years are becoming more common for students of all backgrounds. Taking a gap year can give students the opportunity to travel, clarify their goals, and gain work experience. It's worth putting some thought and planning into exactly what you want to do during your gap year. But once you set your sights on a specific job or opportunity to travel, taking a gap year is certainly worth it.
Does taking a gap year affect employment?
Taking a gap year can positively impact your employment prospects. If you properly plan out your gap year and seek work experience that aligns with your goals, taking a gap year is a great opportunity to build your resume. A gap year can also help you clarify the career path you want to pursue after college.
How long can a gap year be?
As the name suggests, gap years are typically 12 months long. But there aren't any set rules for how long a gap year can be. Some might find that a semester away from their studies can be just as useful as a full year away. Others might opt for multiple years away. It all depends on how you're planning to spend your time off.