How My Gap Year Shaped My Career 
4 months ago

A year out of school, I embarked on a journey as a degree apprentice for NatWest. My gap year allowed me to develop skills to be a strong candidate when applying for apprenticeships, helping to shape my career journey.

University was the path that was pushed by my sixth form and family. Although I wasn’t quite sold on the idea, I went ahead and applied and was set to study Geography with Business at Nottingham. Had I not missed my offer on results day I couldn’t say that I would be where I am right now. I was set on that specific course and unwilling to consider the alternatives I decided to take a gap year, a decision I had sworn off for the past 2 years because I knew that if I didn’t go to university straight after A-Levels I would never go.

17 year-old me was right.

I saw this as my opportunity to pursue what I was too afraid to go for. I tirelessly spent the next 9 months researching various industries, building professional skills and working on applications to build the life that I truly wanted for myself. 

The hard work paid off. Some afternoon in early May. I got a call from my now manager that she would like to offer me the role I have today. Upon successful completion of my apprenticeship, I will leave with a degree in financial services, experience working in a bank and access to a vast network. I’d like to say I will be getting the best of both worlds, minus the student debt. 

Although I didn’t have the typical gap year volunteering at a turtle sanctuary in Costa Rica, interrailing Europe or teaching children English in Tanzania, I wouldn’t change a thing. A gap year is what you choose to do with it. I chose to use mine to set myself up for success in my career. 

The moral of the story is that there is no harm in taking a year to discover where you would like to take your career. Completing work experience, that isn’t the typical one-week off school they allow you, will truly give you insight into where you would like to take your career. Plus, in my case, the leadership, teamwork and dedication to learning that I developed in my role as a Supervisor during my gap year was extremely valuable as they are skills that I now transfer to my current role.

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