THE BLOG

Mind the Gap

10/10/2014 15:02 BST | Updated 09/12/2014 10:59 GMT

"Mind the gap" is an age-old saying that is synonymous with the London Underground as it repeatedly helps to remind the weary eyed commuters among us that there is indeed a gap between the train and the platform edge. But it would now seem that there is a somewhat different gap that needs minding which is the gap between secondary school and university, more commonly known as a gap year.

This isn't your typical "Gap Yah" in which you search for inner divinity by taking in the local sights and cultures of Perah (Peru) or Tanzanah (Tanzania) however inviting that may sound. Instead this is a year full of professional opportunities for those looking to get ahead in the fiercely competitive job market that to many can only be likened to the playing fields of Suzanne Collin's Hunger Games.

The number of opportunities to spend a gap year working in a vast spectrum of industries is growing steadily whilst the number of people who actually know of these existing opportunities does not. Ironically, more and more students endeavour to dive into university as quickly as possible so that they can achieve a degree in order to pursue the very careers on offer through gap year placements.

We hear of the many ambitious graduates receiving their degrees from respected establishments across the country who, quite sensibly, leap into the mouth of the job market only to be spat out due to their lack of "experience" and "foundation" expected from so many companies and businesses today. And so the stereotype of the graduate working in that fast food joint with the heavy burden of debt weighted on their shoulders is fulfilled.

If only they knew to mind the gap. Being aware of this window of opportunity seen in the shape of a gap year will allow students coming out of school to undoubtedly see the growth in potential for their own career success. This is especially the case when they come to graduate and successfully apply to a job that fully embraces their experience and foundations achieved during their year. Diving into the prized industries such as Banking, Consulting or Law at the tender age of eighteen may well seem like a daunting prospect at first, but the plethora of skills and knowledge that will come as a result will cement the foundations for many individuals and their future prospects. Moreover, the network that is developed during the year through meeting and working with several people becomes invaluable in our, "it's not what you know, but who you know" world. I know this because I did mind the gap by deciding to work at IBM together with a handful of other like-minded school leaver students.

IBM gave me an incredible insight into the internal workings of a global company and what it means to be part of such a large corporation. So much so that it was difficult for us as school leavers to be differentiated between other employees within IBM such as the industrial placements and graduates themselves. And now as I look to start my first term at university I know that by minding the gap, not just on the London Underground but a gap year itself, I have confidently avoided slipping into the dark and unknowing crevice of being unemployed that so many seem to find themselves in even after receiving their well earned degrees.

It looks unlikely that the job market will ever become tame but that does not mean it cannot be bested. It is up to us as individuals to bring as much as we can to the table when it comes to the assault course of assessment centres and interviews faced when we graduate from university. And so as repetitive as it may seem, it really is worth minding the gap.