Seven Ways to Fund a Gap Year
Research shows that 63% of HR professionals believe that gap years spent volunteering or working can be differentiators. It’s not difficult to see why. Taking a gap year has the potential to improve your brainpower and, if done right, your job prospects. While not all gap years are equal, a wisely spent gap year – working for a startup, learning a new language or taking part in a volunteering project within your field – could distinguish you from a pool of applicants. The question of funding does require some thinking about though, so here are seven ways to help you pay for your year out.
1. Work abroad
Contrary to popular belief, there are many jobs you could do overseas that don’t involve cocktail umbrella sticks or leafleting. Startups overseas often offer jobs that don’t require you to be fluent in another language. The careers website BerlinStartupJobs.com lists opportunities in sectors ranging from marketing to telesales based in Germany’s capital city.
In the UK, many firms such as Accenture, Deloitte and IBM, offer competitive eight month gap year placements to high achieving A-level students, paying them on average £15,000 per annum and on-the-job training. These places can be very competitive and are filled up very quickly, sometimes up to a year in advance.
LinkedIn is another great place to start. If you haven’t already, check out its new app developed specifically for students and graduates looking for a job.
Before you start fundraising for your gap year, ensure you have a very good idea of just how much money you will need. Costs stack up higher than you’d imagine, and the final figure will depend on a mix of factors such as the country, length of stay and how exactly you plan to spend your days once you are there. When calculating this figure, don’t forget to account for visas, insurance and living costs. There are plenty of online resources to help you.
Once you have your target figure, get fundraising! Run a marathon and ask for sponsorship; sell off all your possessions on eBay; organize fundraising events; and set up a campaign on KickStarter or GoFundMe (provided you have a legitimate project and end goal). Fill in the rest by doing some part-time or temping work during or before your trip.
3. Trusts, grants and charities
Local associations, businesses, schools and charities such as the Rotary Club, Lions Clubs International, Round Table or the Peter Kirk Memorial in the UK, regularly award grants to students meeting specific criteria such as age, residence and project goals.
4. Consider doing a clinical trial
While clinical trials are regulated by an independent body, there is an obvious risk in volunteering your body for a medical trial. It’s important you read the small print and research the company willing to pay you, as well as any potential side effects of the drug. A two to four weeks trial will usually require you to stay at the testing center, where you will be given a bed and food. There are different requirements based on age, health history and your lifestyle choices. Depending on the length of the study and what’s involved, you could earn a few thousand pounds/dollars.
5. Work as a film extra
To work as a film extra, you will need to register with an extras casting agency by uploading your details, measurements and photo, sometimes paying a small fee, or attending a casting event. Your earnings will depend largely on the production. The basic rate for many large productions, such as with BBC, ITV or Warner Bros, is about £90 a day in the UK (~$130), and, since extras are often required to work on the same set anywhere between several days to several weeks, wages can stack up high. However, working hours can be long and the work may be physically demanding. You also need to be flexible enough to free up your schedule at a week’s notice as casting agencies tend to contact extras at the very last minute.
6. Ask friends and family
Once you’ve decided on a fundraising goal and taken active steps to raising the money, asking for help from your friends and relative could help you fill in the remainder. Don’t be shy, because you will certainly need all the help you can get! If they were planning to give you a gift for your birthday or another special occasion, ask them to donate to your gap year fund instead. Thanks to websites such as Flendr.com and GoGetFunding.com, crowdfunding and keeping track of donations shouldn’t be an issue.
7. Cut out expensive habits and unnecessary costs
Whether it’s your morning almond croissant, tobacco (which you should quit anyway) or your Netflix subscription, you should start cutting out expensive and/or unnecessary habits as soon as possible to save a maximum amount of money before and/or during your trip. While on the go, you will have other expenses and need to be very smart with your money to make it last. Learn to start budgeting now!
A version of this article was originally published on 22 July 2008. It was updated in April 2016.
This article was originally published in April 2016 . It was last updated in March 2021