How to Put Gap Year into your Resume

Posted by SE Vietnam - Student Exchange Vietnam

In the past, Gap Year used to have a negative connotation to it. You are either a spoiled student from a rich family or a student who can’t stand the heat of intense coursework at the university.

However, this conception has been slowly changing over the years and with the right attitude and determination in mind, you can make Gap Year not only an opportunity to explore the world but also a winning point in your resume.

The challenge now for you is to find a way to make your Gap Year meaningful, as well as to craft stories in a way that will highlight positive aspects of the journey that align with what most companies want from their employees nowadays.

Have no worries, we are here to help you. With our experience both in helping international students find internship, study programs in Vietnam and being a recruiter ourselves, we know what you will need to do to make your resume stand out from the crowd after returning from a Gap Year.

 gap year Gap Year Experiences can be very rewarding

I. How to Make Your Gap Year Meaningful?

Most people think about relaxing time lying on the beach, climbing mountains in an exotic land when it comes to Gap Year. Certainly you can change this. You can still do all these amazing things (on the weekend) and use your weekdays to do something that will earn you skills, knowledge and professional network/recommendation.

1. You can do an internship abroad:

A lot of companies require fresh graduates to have experience, at least through a short-term internship, and doing an internship while juggling with university work is hard. Therefore your Gap Year journey can be designed to give you real working experience at the same time you enjoy a new life in a different country. You will certainly have the chance to explore a country, gain practical experience and soft skills that are helpful for job seeking and in some cases earn money to support your Gap Year.

Gap Year

Do an internship and build connections with locals

How hard is it then to find an internship in a foreign country? The answer is, not so much, there are many credited organizations like ours out there for you to choose from. We can support you with finding an internship placement with an established network that we have built here in Vietnam. Then you can choose to arrange logistics on your own or let us take care of that for you.

2. You can do join a volunteer project:

If you are passionate about social problems and are into doing something that will benefit local communities rather than business work, then you can opt for a volunteer program. This will also allow you to do real work, because most of the time, volunteer work doesn’t really just include physical work, there is a real need for volunteers for volunteers who can carry out administration work. Again, you will be able to work with organizations whose main purpose is to help local people and you can state this in your resume. It proves that you are willing to go very far to do what you are passionate about and that you put a lot of effort into it.

Meaningful Travel

Our intern, Jennifer Ho in her Public Health volunteer in Vietnam

3. You can learn a new language abroad:

Some people travel abroad to learn a new language just because they want more exposure to the new culture and opportunities to practice. 

Obviously, the advantage of this is that you can come back being fluent in a new language which can help a lot if a company requires knowledge of a second or third language. However you can delve more into the experience of you overcoming the communication challenge and successfully learn valuable knowledge in a different country.

II. Tips for what to write on your resume:

1. The general requirement of living abroad is that you have to manage your budget. It might seem like a trivial thing to mention in a resume, but it helps to point out that you successfully managed to travel within a strict budget for a long amount of time, especially if you are applying for a position that requires travelling.

2. Next, living abroad allows you to meet with different people and work with them, as the world is proving to be more of an open space than ever, having co-workers from different countries and backgrounds is not uncommon and you need to have the right sensitivity and skills to be able to work harmoniously. This is exactly something that you honed during your trip abroad and you can show it.

3. Here is how you can make experiences like living abroad and backpacking look relatively professional on a resume. This type of experience can be put in a separate section titled “other experience” or “international experience” towards the bottom of your resume, under education and work experience. When a potential employer sees this, it acts as an indicator of maturity, independence, and exposure to the world, a very important part of your resume that speaks to your character.

4. Volunteer work done abroad (paid or unpaid) can absolutely go under work experience on your resume. You want to use specific and powerful action verbs to describe both your responsibilities and achievements. What did you do, what impact did it have or what was the long-term result?


Be proud of your Gap Year journey

5. On your resume, don’t just write “volunteer” as the title, you can provide a title that described your position in the organization. For example, you could be a program coordinator, project manager, head of fundraising, development officer, etc. This gives recruiters a better idea of what you have experience doing even in the first glance.

6. Put the foreign language you acquired during your trip. A language learning experience can go under your “education” header or “other experience.” and it can be a really powerful statement since language skills are needed now more than ever. 

No matter what you did on your gap year, it all comes down to how you view your experiences. Same goes for how you present your experiences on your resume post-gap year.

Do you genuinely believe in what you did? If you take your skills and experience seriously, then you’ll write and speak about your gap year with conviction. If you see it as personally and professionally transformative, then your future employer will too.


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