After putting in the time and effort to get your degree, take a gap year away from the stress and dive deep into your life outside of academia or entry-level jobs.
You’ve done the work and have the diploma. Your 20s are the years of our lives where we are meant to see new places, try new things and take the time to discover who we are or could be. This gap year could be spent wisely by traveling, volunteering, having a part-time job and even discovering new things you love.
At USC, the Career Center has the faculty and resources to help students better understand what a gap year could look like and plan ahead. The pre-professional advising office is one of these resources.
The advising office works with students interested in medical school, health professional programs, law school, graduate school and more. Pre-professional advising manager, Eileen Korpita, specifically works with the pre-medical, pre-health students.
The gap year is more prevalent in these pre-professional tracks than others, Korpita said.
“I’ll talk to them and sort of go through it, go through pros and cons. But usually, if someone’s thinking about a gap year, they want to take a gap year,” Korpita said.
Quintaris Earl graduated in fall 2021 with a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology and is currently taking a gap year away from school to work.
“My plan was to just graduate, find a job, get my finances in order because you know as a college student, it gets very difficult to kind of balance out your curriculum and life in general,” Earl said.
While taking time away from school, Earl just started a job as a quality control chemist for Pfizer to save some money before paying for medical school tuition.
“If things are kind of a little bit unstable, if you’re getting overwhelmed and if you need to take a breather. Then you know there’s never any shame in taking a break, kind of getting your feet under you and then just starting back later. Life is not a rush,” Earl said.
Taking the time and space to slow down could be the exact eye-opening experience you’ve needed to see things more clearly.
As an incoming first-year student, everyone has ideas for where they see themselves once graduated. But, that doesn’t mean we always stay on that same track we chose those years ago.
Kiersten Sweeney, a first-year business undecided student, personally has known students who had great success with taking a gap year and have seen the connections they've made in doing so.
"I think that (gap years) can actually be really helpful to a student ... I've heard people who go to a gap year and they find what's something that they're really passionate about," Sweeney said.
The idea of taking time away from work or school may not sound ideal to everyone, but you may look back and regret not stepping outside of your comfort zone, especially if it leads to opening up tons of possibilities.
"I definitely plan on applying for jobs straight out of college. But I mean, if there were an opportunity to really get to experience something that's like once in a lifetime, then I would probably take that opportunity," Sweeney said.
A gap year could be exactly what needs to happen for that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to present itself. Whether you're a first-year or a fourth-year student, it's time to stop and reassess what's going to make you happier post-graduation.