Gap years aren’t always all about teaching children, feeding rescued animals or working in an orphanage. You can get the same immersive experience in a new country and a new culture whilst learning about a job that you want to do when you come home. Learn business skills, marketing tricks and help impart social media know-how during the day and spend your weekends experiencing a entirely different culture, meeting new people and/or discovering beautiful beaches and hushed temples.
1. Undoubtedly the business capital of the world, China has it all when it comes to modern amenities, unspoilt beaches, rural adventures and friendly locals. Head to Beijing or Shanghai with Oyster and learn how the fastest growing economy does business. They have a wide range of sectors you can pick from depending on your interest – accountancy, advertising, science, IT, healthcare and more.
Your current experience will be utilised and you’ll develop new CV enhancing skills too. Although your supervisor and most of your colleagues will speak English, Oyster offer four weeks of intensive Mandarin training to help you navigate the city. And at the end of the programme, you’ll get a certificate and a final report that will help your CV stand out back in the UK. If you’re feeling inspired, you can find out some more information here.
4 weeks, with concurrent Mandarin lessons – £2555
2. Journalism is a tough business to crack and experience is everything. Give yourself a helping hand and try a journalism internship in the Ghanan capital of Accra with Gap Force. You can choose to join a newspaper, TV channel or radio station, working alongside some of Ghana’s leading journalists and reporters to develop your research, writing and copy editing skills. And at the weekends you can head off to explore the rich history, culture and wildlife that this incredible country has to offer – wild elephants at Mole National Park, unspoilt beaches and years of bloody history down at Cape Coast. You can read more about the details of the internship here.
4 – 8 weeks, starting price £1500
3. If you’re planning a career in medicine then getting some first hand medical experience is essential. Another project by Gap Force, this one sees you learning expedition and water related medicine and surviving dangerous environments in the Costa Rican jungle. If travelling and medicine are your two passions then there is no other project that will get your heart racing as much as this one. The experiences and skills you’ll be learning are seemingly endless – jungle navigation, fire lighting, casualty assessments, catastrophic haemorrhaging, breathing and circulation, evacuation strategies, fracture handling and use of a machete to name just a few.
You’ll take part in rescue response training learning crucial knots, harnesses and rigging systems and testing out your newly learnt medical skills. And if you have any energy left after all that, you can leave your month in the jungle and head to Quepos and volunteer at a local medical clinic, shadowing doctors and treating patients to get that crucial real life experience. Exhilarating, educational and completely unforgettable, these 2 weeks will stay with you your whole life. Just go here for more information.
2 weeks, £800
4. If you love skiing and snowboarding and dream of a job on the slopes head to the Canadian ski resort of Whistler Blackcomb and within four weeks you could be a qualified ski instructor, ready to spend the rest of your life on the snowy mountains. In groups of no more than 6 you’ll improve your ski techniques, gain the AST1 Avalanche Skills (super handy in those Canadian mountain ranges) and be ready to sit your CSIA L1 at the end of it with no problems. And if you opt for the Ski Instructor Internship you have the opportunity to apply for a job at the Snow School once you’ve passed and spend your days being paid to ski. Pretty cool, right? Go here for more details on all gap year ski courses with Alltracks Academy.
5. If you’re after a bit of office experience but also want to experience a new and colourful culture, pack your bag and sign up to The Leap’s Tanzania business project. You’ll spend your time working at a small travel company, organising safaris and learning general office skills. You’ll have the chance to help out in an orphanage and a school alongside visiting the bustling city of Dar Es Salaam and the beautiful Zanzibar Island. We can’t promise you’ll want to leave and come back to office life in the UK though.
6-10 weeks, starting at £2047
6. Projects Abroad host a variety of voluntary business internships in Mexico, Mongolia, China, Costa Rica and Sri Lanka. You’ll be working in local businesses helping them with general office duties – researching, writing briefs, attending meetings and contacting clients. Your colleagues will have a good grasp of English but will be keen to practise their conversational skills with you. Projects Abroad also offer placements in NGO’s in India, Mexico, South Africa, Vietnam and Jamaica. Here you get to learn how international development charities work and the problems they face. You can read more about this here.
If new business is where your interest lies then check out the Micro Finance projects in Cambodia, Ghana, Senegal and Tanzania. Projects Abroad provide a loan to a individuals or groups to help them set up their business. When the loan is paid back, it gets passed on to another new start up. This is an exciting opportunity to see how small businesses start and how they overcome problems. You’ll get experience reading business plans, developing marketing strategies and managing money whilst teaching you how businesses work in a different country.
Once you’ve decided on the right creative project for you, use Patchwork to help make it happen. Show your friends and family all the things you need to fund, make and do so they can choose how they can help – whether that means chipping in to help pay for accommodation, offering to drive you to the airport or lending you a rucksack.
Have a look at our gap year Patchworks here to get some inspiration.