Tag Archives: transitioning

Focus: Give Your Gap

Image source: kimberlyang.wordpress.com

Many students believe that after graduation they must throw themselves right into the flames of the tough job market, whether they feel prepared for the heat or not. However, what founders of GiveYourGap.Org, Kimberly Ang and Amber Rackliffe wishto do is encourage graduates to take a year after graduation to offer their services to volunteer organizations locally and abroad. I attended their on-campus webinar last week where the marketing and outreach director, Joeva Rock, phoned in with a small group on campus to introduce us to their organization and the benefits of giving a gap year. 

The very young founders were UC San Diego alumni who were somewhat intimidated to step into a faltering economy, but who also had an insatiable desire to see the world before they settled down into a “stable career.” They both decided to take a year after their undergraduate studies to volunteer abroad, but were shocked to learn that, not only was the process much more complicated than they had though, but it was often unreasonably expensive. And for recent grads dealing with the anxiety of student loan debt looming in the near future, this was a bit discouraging. So they found a new goal, to help others deciding what to do with the “scary time after graduation,” and connect them to the resources that would make this alternative course of action a possibility.

Their website, GiveYourGap.Org, helps organize the process of looking for the best option for one’s volunteer goals, especially for those with limited funds. This emphasis particularly appealed to me, as I also found it hard to understand why volunteers must be charged a fee of thousands of dollars. The site links users to nonprofit organizations that are constantly accepting international volunteers, as well as the different websites that access a variety of scholarships and program information. It also provides tips and testimonials from other featured “gappers” that have used the site, with the promise that a social networking sector is also in the works, to create a community of volunteers with similar experiences. The site was just launched last December, with the reported number of assisted students at a little over 100. However, due to the free-informational nature of the site, along with a count of daily site traffic, the estimated number is over 1000.

Kimberly Ang (who unfortunately couldn’t phone in as she was in China on the last leg of her 6-month tour of volunteer networking in Asia) also wished to express to students the advantages with taking a “gap year” to volunteer. What I took away from Joeva’s accounts, was that “giving your gap” should not simply be viewed as a deferment of responsibility, or a temporary escape from the work field. It should be seen as a voyage of personal growth, of understanding the world you live in and giving back to

Ang volunteering in the Philippines

those less fortunate.

“When you live in a country with no running water for a year, you will definitely be changed in a positive way,” remarked Joeva. “You learn to value the life that you live, challenge yourself by being in a completely different place, and develop unique relationships with the people and the culture.”

However, it does also have empirical value to give your gap. Rock, who had volunteered in Ghana for a year, was paid a stipend along with room and board during her stay there. It also equipped her with unique job skills that interested and impressed hiring employers when she came back to the United States.

So, ultimately, there is no “right way” to proceed after graduating, even though a norm does exist. But what the team at Give Your Gap want to publicize is that this option is both rewarding and timely, and, most importantly, available to all. The time to give back is when you can, and after college graduation may be the perfect time to throw caution to the wind and make that jump into helping the world.

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Here’s to Bruno

The other day, I attended a hiring fair for a job on campus. This situation crammed 95 nervous students all going after the same job into one tense room. The small talk was very awkward. However, one student clearly stood out among the rest. His name was Bruno, and although we were advised to wear “less-constricting attire” due to the physical nature of the fair, he was wearing a suit with a neck tie and shoes shined to perfection. He rose his hand at every opportunity, asking purer-than-light-Miss-America-quoted questions. He made sure his rather shrill voice was heard during every group activity by grabbing the lead from anyone who tried to participate. He even did so much as to run to each room we were directed to, ensuring that he would be the first one greeted by the interviewers. Needless to say, we were all quite annoyed.

However, we couldn’t get too mad at Bruno for pulling whatever obnoxious tricks he had to make himself noticed.  We were all secretly wishing that we had the audacity to be that aggressive, secretly questioning whether our hatred for him was misplaced insecurity at our own unpreparedness for the dog-eat-dog world. And, let’s face it, as college students, we are not prepared for it. We do not know what it takes to make it as a career-focused adult, because these past four years have been spent partying and pigging out with our friends, thinking that if we managed to wash and fold our laundry on the same day we were being responsible. Yet as graduation approaches, all seniors are inevitably faced with the same gripping question: What will I do now?

The idea that one can go right into the job market after being freshly weaned off of midterms and midnight trips to McDonalds is an artifact of the past. It is no secret that with the current state of the economy, the job market is less likely to let us, most of us having little to no experience. We got a degree in anthropology, what exactly did we expect? This, coupled with the debilitating fear that we will have to move back home after tasting freedom, creates what is commonly known as the “Post-Grad Syndrome.” This is the stress students who have recently graduated feel upon leaving the comforts of school and stepping into the next phase of adulthood. It is thus becoming more and more common for students to tack on additional majors and pursue higher degrees just so that they may avoid this awkward in-between stage. But the truth is that we will all have to make the transition sooner or later.

The purpose of this blog is to shed light on the different ways that students have coped with moving on from their undergraduate studies. Past, present and future post-grads will be able to give their input here and share valuable advice to help ease the growing pains. The job search is hard, but what is harder is understanding that it is just a phase that, with patience and planning, can be a lot less stressful than it seems. So, following Bruno’s lead, I will make an effort to find out the best tips for overcoming a fear of the unknown, and take the future into my own hands.

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