What Can You Do on a COVID-Induced Gap Year?

By Canadian Gap Year Association Modified on June 05, 2020

Even without travel, you can earn money, learn differently, get connected, and advance your career.

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Learning to play guitar is just one of many great ways to spend your productive gap year, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Everything feels uncertain right now, and you may be struggling with "to go or not to go" to school in the fall. While there's no clear "winning path" forward, you may just default to school because there doesn't seem to be a ton of alternatives.

The reality is there are hundreds of opportunities out there offering meaningful, purposeful, and exciting experiences. You just have to go looking for them.

Planning your gap year during COVID-19

Your gap year doesn't have to be endless Netflix, sleeping all hours, and five family walks a day.

It does, however, take some research or guidance to figure out how to make it a year that will push you forward in life.

Although this isn't an extensive list, it will get your brain firing and spark some ideas of how you could use your gap year.

Start a business or work on a major project

This is a great time to try out new things — call it a "risk-free trial" on things that have always interested you but you haven't been able to prioritize. Here's a few ideas:

  • Are you passionate about kid's access to arts programming? See about developing a campaign to raise money to purchase instruments for your local public school.
  • Have you been working on your coding skills? Work with a local small business on a project.
  • Started making your own jewelry? Whip up an Instagram account to sell your creations.
  • Have a home renovation project that has been staring you down? Tackle that!
  • Start a painting, lawn maintenance or child care company. There are so many free supports for youth entrepreneurs, like the League of Innovators.

Save the planet

The environmental changes we've seen during the global slowdown is strong proof that there's a lot we can do to fight climate change. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Join forces with a local climate action group and tackle bouncing back with a stronger ecological conscience.
  • Offer to do environmental audits for your friends and family to help them to live more sustainably.
  • Interested in large-scale change? Get involve in public policy or consumer-based research and development.
  • Learn about environmental justice.

Get political

Naturally, politics has been a huge part of the pandemic. Different parties are in power at different levels, and everyone's tackling the issues differently. This is a great opportunity to critically look at how our governments are performing. It will help you realize what party you may align with in the future — and where you can step up to make change now.

Is there a role you can play in Canadian politics? How can you step in to support and lead as a young Canadian impacted by politics and COVID-19?

Do some informational interviews with people in the jobs you're interested in. This will be helpful in getting clear on your career goals. Who better to speak to about your career than somebody already pursuing it?

Do you think you want to be an engineer? Do you know what they do all day? Did you know that engineers, even with the same degree, can do a huge variety of different jobs? Did you know that non-engineers do engineering-like work?

Get out there and start talking to people. Not only are you learning about the job, but this could turn into a valuable industry contact!

Learn a skill — language, coding, photography, investing in the stock market

Not all skills need to be taught in a formal school setting. There are so many resources out there for learning new things right from home — many of which are free. The great thing is that you can pick and choose what you want to learn, and tackle it at your own pace!

Although you won't get a university credit for these activities, you will:

  • Get more clarity on what you do and don't like — maybe this will influence your choice of program.
  • Develop skills for the workplace, like project management, communication, and budgeting.
  • Build your community network when you find people who can support your projects (remotely, of course).
  • Develop skills you will need to be successful in post-pandemic times.

Need more ideas? Join a free Explore, Dream & Design Your Gap Year Workshop to get started seeing what you could spend your time doing!


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