This article first appeared in The Hindu on August 15, 2020.
“Never let a good crisis go to waste,” said Winston Churchill during World War II. While entrepreneurs, business leaders, teachers and financial wizards manage to make the crisis work for them, many students are attempting to make the most of their “gap year”.
However, this is a double-edged sword. Opting for a gap year can either add to your profile and CV or create a void that you attempt to gloss over.
So, here are my seven suggestions to help you make the most of your gap year.
1. Brush up tech skills
If you are tech-averse, now is the time to build some basic skills. Remember, the pandemic has pushed the world on the path of artificial intelligence, big data, smart gadgets and robotics. Tech skills are like literacy today. There are many beginner’s modules on Python, app development, game development or basic data analysis skills.
2. Design thinking
Design Thinking is another option, as are actual design skills like working with Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop.
Learning a new language needs a lot more than a few online courses, though DuoLingo is good. Working with an institute that prepares you for certification exams is much better.
3. Online jobs and internships
Many companies have moved their entry-level jobs and internships online but projects are certainly available — mainly in data analytics, digital marketing, content creation and even in sales. These can last between three weeks and six months.
Also read, What should you do this summer?
4. Fund raising or Social awareness
We need to support each other more now than ever before. Artisans, sari manufacturers, street performers, tailors, construction workers, restaurants and caterers, tour and trekking guides and other groups are struggling under the pandemic-led economic shutdown. Find a group for whom you can raise money and awareness. Work with community leaders to build alternative sources of incomes and leverage their skills and resources.
5. Mental and physical fitness
This is an excellent opportunity to recoup and recover your emotional balance and strength and address chronic anxiety or depression. Read the accounts of others as well — and join a course in meditation or reach out to a therapist.
Whether it is yoga, mixed martial arts, tennis, strength training, running, now is the time to aim for the lifestyle, health and body you desire. The gap year demands structure, energy and purpose. And there is nothing like a fitness regime to create that for you.
6. Become an amateur at something
Einstein played the piano and violin, Sheryl Sandberg writes books, Mark Zuckerberg is an avid runner, Taylor Swift makes snow globes, Johnny Depp collects Barbie dolls (I’m not judging), Amitabh Bachchan is a blogger and Rajinikanth reads books (no, really). Find the thing that gets you off the couch and going!
If you dream of being the next big disruptor, put those entrepreneurship muscles to some use now. Set up something you always wanted to — a blog, a rating app, an online show, a channel, a contest, an online event…. Make things happen and don’t count the money you’ll make, as of now.
It’s just a gap year after all!
Richa Dwivedi Saklani is a certified coach from UCLA and is an accredited MBTI trainer who has worked with over 10,000 people across career planning and as a behavioral trainer in companies. She is the CEO & Founder of Inomi Learning and author of “The Ultimate Guide to 21st Century Careers”.