Taking a Gap Year is the buzz around Europe. What's all the noise about? Gap Year is a year (or some increment of time) a person takes off to travel before going to college, into a career or in between jobs. This time off is Europe's answer to riding out the college/work unfriendly times of this worldwide recession (read up on our crappy economic times in our What is a College Degree Worth These Days article). Lucky for you, most Americans aren't catching on to the trend and by choosing to pursue a Gap Year, you can call yourself a pioneer in the practice. To get you started, companies around the globe have surfaced to help people squeeze the most purpose and fun out of their Gap Years. One of the best organized has to be U.K.-based, Gap Force.
About Gap Force...
Established in 1989, Gap Force is tailored to your interests so you're not just roaming around but traveling with a resume-building, educationally specific purpose. All you have to do is decide that taking a Gap Year is for you and Gap Force does the rest. Programs are organized by interest, specifically: TrekForce, GreenForce, OzForce, SkiForce, MedForce and SportForce and are beneficial for acquiring a wide range of skills and experiences. A few of our favorites:
TrekForce-Learning Leadership Skills in the Jungle
Programs offered in this category are challenging, physically demanding expeditions that are designed to make Indiana Jones proud. A good alternative to military-type training (without all the unnecessary brainwashing), TrekForce adventures are 4 month programs that begin in Wales and move into the jungles of South America where you take on nature herself and learn night navigation, emergency medicine, river crossing techniques and general badass trekking skills. Even Jack Osborne got the TrekForce itch.
SkiForce-Worldwide Ski Instructor Certification
For the snow lovers amongst us, this program not only allows you to stay on the slopes all season (and we're talking some premium French Alps type slopes) but prepares you for a career in ski instruction. Through Ski Force, participants can acquire worldwide recognized ski instruction certification. Although this program follows the British (BASI) standards, because GapForce is an accredited sports instruction center, holding their certificate qualifies you work to at snow resorts globally. They even guarantee job placement upon completion of their level 2 program (BASI2).
MedForce-Working at Hospitals as a Platform for a Career in Medicine
If you're interested in pursuing a career in medicine, in America, you won't see anything but the inside of a classroom for the next 7-9 years. To break up the monotony and put your future career in perspective, join MedForce where you get hands-on experience at a hospital under the supervision of qualified doctors and nurses. You won't be given a scalpel and sent into surgery but you will interact with both patients and hospital staff in a meaningful, educational way. Programs are offered throughout the world, namely in Ecuador, Cambodia, India, Belize and South Africa. While some programs are designed for current medical students, many are offered to those with no previous experience.
Programs offered through Gap Force are not free but, at the moment, are wiser investments than college. Europeans have been making themselves more employable by taking a Gap Year for decades. It's time for Americans to give it a try. While everyone is sitting in stuffy classrooms all year, you can be out making a difference in the world and adding real value to your resume or developing a meaningful career (not to mention having the time of your life).