Hiatt Career Center

Move Over Gap Year, I Am Taking A Sabbatical!

girl in boat


As a new graduate, you may have had to pivot your plans based on the challenges that COVID has presented. Uncertainty around what’s next isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Instead, it means we are open to all possibilities, including a sabbatical. 

Several different names exist to define what a sabbatical for a new grad looks like’, “gap year”, “year in service”, “time off.” In Amish culture, there is a term called “Rumspringa,” which is a right of passage for teenagers to leave the confines of the community to see what it is like living on the outside. The premise is similar no matter what you call it or when you take time off from the typical trajectory of school and work. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity for students to seriously consider taking time off to delve deep into a new experience.

Gap years can take place in the form of year in service where students participate in AmeriCorps, VISTA, Commonwealth Corps, and a variety of volunteer and public service opportunities throughout the United States and worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic has offered a spotlight on the racial and economic disparities that exist in our nation. Illness, food scarcity, unemployment, mental health, education, child care, workers and immigrant rights are just a few of the public health and social supports that need volunteers now more than ever. 

Widely established programs like City Year and the Commonwealth Corps operated by the Massachusetts Service Alliance have a variety of opportunities for recent high school and college graduates. National service programs like AmeriCorps NCCC, VISTA, and local and national AmeriCorps programs are looking for volunteers to work on organic farms, classrooms, and more. Many of these programs come with monetary and education stipends, school loan deferments, housing, and an opportunity to build community, learn new skills, test drive possible career paths and support communities in need.

In short: pause, pivot, reassess and redefine your next steps. In the end, you’ll learn more about resilience, confidence and have more valuable experiences than you ever once considered.