Friday, June 3, 2011

College graduates taking a gap year to volunteer instead of going into the work force

As the Class of 2011 enters into “the real world” many are not going straight into the work force, but instead are joining different organizations and taking a “gap year” to volunteer all over the world. Some take this gap year to take the time to figure out what they would like to do post-university. Others take this time to fulfill a calling to volunteer.

In these programs graduates have the opportunity to volunteer in a particular area that suits their interests. Many organizations have programs such as: teaching, environment and conservation, animal care, human rights and health care.

The National Civilian Conservation Corps (NCCC), a branch of AmeriCorps, is a popular program for people looking to take a gap year. One project that the NCCC was a part of was planning a Christmas party for 500 victims of Hurricane Katrina. The volunteers, whom were taking a gap year, took donations of Christmas presents from all over the country and set up a teen club aboard a cruise ship where the victims were staying. The volunteers organized the holiday party with gifts, decorations, music and holiday cheer.

Another reason college graduate turn to a gap year is because of the unavailability of jobs. This gap year is not considered a year without work. Graduates are able to put this experience on their resume and gives them an advantage when applying to jobs the next year.

The South Asia Peace Alliance has many programs abroad for volunteers all over the world. They support volunteers engaged in community development efforts. Their programs include one to volunteer in Africa. These programs allow graduates to indulge into the culture of their particular country and give back to the community that is hosting them. For example, many volunteers build roads in African countries enabling easier access to water and other necessities.

The Peace Corps, a well known program throughout the world, is one that many college graduates join. College graduates can commit to two years with the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps has programs in 77 different countries, placing participants in programs that match their skills.

A gap year takes a lot of consideration. The experience is one like you will never have! More information about gap year opportunities are available online through organizations such as Global Citizen Year and Serve.gov.

Have you taken a gap year? Tell us your story in the comments below! If you haven’t taken a gap year, let us know your thoughts and if you plan on taking one!

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