A “gap year,” in the traditional sense, is a year-long break between high school and college or university in which students often travel and focus on themselves.
After graduating high school, I had never heard of the term “gap year.” Sure, I had friends who decided to travel abroad in lieu of continuing their studies but I figured they just weren’t interested in university or not concerned about a career. It wasn’t until four years after I graduated that I realized the benefits of taking a step back and gaining some clarity and perspective.
In my case, after university, a post-graduate college program and a year in the workforce, I decided to pack my bags and move to Australia. I happily spent my days exploring, taking in new experiences and serving tables in a well-to-do Melbourne neighborhood assuring locals that the assumption that I was American didn’t offend me. After my one-year visa was up, I moved home refreshed and eager to get back to a career.
Although North America is relatively late to the game in terms of students taking gap years, the concept is rising in popularity and many companies are taking note of the benefits and offering employees time off to recharge and embark on bucket list experiences in the middle of their careers.
According to a 2016 Fast Company article, 80 percent of graduates reported that their gap year had significantly added to their employability.
The article details the laundry list of reasons why taking time off can reignite a spark and improve productivity upon return. The belief in this mindset reflected as a key aspect in the company culture at Intersol is, in my opinion, far more valuable than sparkling water on tap or any other gimmick disguised as culture often seen nowadays (not that I’m opposed to sparkling water on tap). Having experienced the benefits of stepping away from work and study first hand, I can focus on the future with a company that appreciates how small the world has gotten and how valuable taking time to explore it can be.