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I'd Like to Take Some Time Out After I Graduate ...

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Is a year out for me?

Taking a year out after graduation is an option that many students consider. Some 5% of the UL graduates of 2000 were 'not available for employment or study' when we surveyed them in April 2001. In most cases, this meant that they had decided to travel for the year, before settling into graduate employment.

If you decide to choose this option, it is very important that you have a clear plan of what you intend to do, in order to ensure that the experience is as useful and beneficial as possible. Ideally, your time out should have some relevant links with your career plans and you will have an opportunity to develop some skills or gain experience that will enhance your employability on your return.

There are risks associated with this option, of course, and you might find that you have missed some good opportunities that arose in your absence. This might delay your career progress for some time but it's more than likely that similar opportunities will appear again. Employers will be interested in your reasons for taking time out and, in particular, how you have developed as a result of this course of action. It is important that you can present a positive account of your reasons and that you can identify what skills you have developed during this break.

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Travel for your year out

Seeing the world is a good way to experience new cultures, improve language skills and become more independent. It is advisable to combine travel and work. You may be lucky enough to get career-related work abroad.

There are plenty of opportunities, ranging from teaching English as a foreign language to jobs in tourism and office administration. Check out the JET scheme for teaching in Japan, or a similar scheme for teaching in China organised by Council for International Educational Exchange (CIEE).

Alternatively, you can certainly find some kind of seasonal or short-term casual work. Such jobs may pay very little but can help establish you in another country or provide you with enough money to fund your travels.

Voluntary work in Ireland

Voluntary work can be an excellent way to gain valuable experience and, at the same time, give something back to the community. Details of voluntary work opportunities in Ireland can be found in a very useful directory published by Dublin Corporations' Community and Youth Information Service. The title of this publication is Voluntary Work Opportunities in Ireland. It lists over 150 organisations willing to offer voluntary work experience on a full-time or part-time basis.

Many of these organisations are involved in charitable or social work and they need help in fund-raising activities, environmental projects or helping people in need. This can be very useful for graduates interested in gaining experience which will help them gain access to a career in the helping professions.

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Volunteer work overseas

Voluntary work can be a superb way to gain valuable experience and at the same time give something back to the community - whether through teaching, building water and drainage systems or sifting archaeological remains.

However, if you are going to be working as a volunteer, check out the sponsoring organisation and make sure that you are wholly satisfied about the arrangements - in particular:

  • Medical insurance should be provided
  • Return travel ticket should be given to you
  • Accommodation should be fixed and appropriate
  • If staying with a host family, what payment are they receiving for your upkeep?
  • What work will you actually be doing?
  • What hours will you be working?

Try to talk to someone who has already volunteered with this organisation to find out what it is really like.

Work permits abroad

EU students can work anywhere within the European Union without a work permit. Obtaining work visas may be difficult in other countries. If you are interested in working in the USA or Canada during your first year after graduation, you will need to arrange a visa prior to departure. Check out the Internship programmes organised by USIT, as these will entitle you to get an Internship visa for a period up to eighteen months.

For details of these programmes, check the website at: http://www.usitnow.com/countries/northire/work_abroad/work_abroad.htm. Another very useful source of information on USA internships is the Find a Job website at: http://www.findajobusa.org/.

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