Is the Snap Year the New Gap Year?

Recent research indicates that less travellers are undertaking the rite of passage experience of the gap-year. 2012 graduate, Patrick Taylor, wrote about his decision to opt for a shorter travel break (known as a snap-year) before starting a graduate position with insurance company Endsleigh:

“I was concerned that if I disappeared to another continent for too long, I might have to field tricky questions from prospective employers on what I’d been doing for the past year.”

In an increasingly competitive graduate job market, getting the balance right between showing you’ve broadened your horizons with travel while also seeming dedicated, career motivated and available has been a significant factor in this decrease of traditional year-long world travel experiences. Taking a full year out to travel is expensive and requires a certain amount of commitment to achieve. It can be worrying to head out into the great unknown when your university friends are all signing on to serious careers with major employers – and telling you how difficult it was to get selected!

On the other hand, employers like to see candidates who have some life experience as well as good grades and work experience. Being able to show that you have volunteered or worked abroad, seen something of other cultures and taken time to reflect on your life goals could be the difference between making it through to the interview stage or having your application end up in the bin.

Many are starting to see the snap-year as the perfect solution to this. Lasting from anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, a snap-year can fit in around studies and graduate scheme start dates. Giving you the experience of travel without having to commit to being gone for a full year.

A snap-year is also a much more cost effective option. With higher tuition fees and lower starting salaries the current financial climate makes racking up considerable debt travelling for a year look a lot less appealing. In fact the average length of a snap-year is just five weeks – no doubt due to the number of students choosing to take a snap-year during their summer holidays after A-Levels or between university years.

Is the snap-year a calculated ploy by students to add another tick to their CV? Perhaps, but it is also a chance to gain genuine life experience in a way that won’t land them in years of debt.