For most students, 4th-year university is stressful enough – let alone the additional pressure of securing that all-important dream graduate job. However, in reality, there’s no real rush. Graduate schemes can be applied for up to 3 years after graduating, and graduate jobs/roles will still exist after you’ve taken that spontaneous gap year.
I graduated in July 2016 with a degree in Management with Marketing and on the 5th September 2016, my 5 friends and I embarked on an adventure of a lifetime – our travelling trip around the world was about to commence. We booked our flights, got all of our vaccinations (rabies, Japanese encephalitis, etc), and had packed our lives into our backpacks. Reality hit that we’d all be living out of our backpacks for the next 5 months. 5 of us had just graduated and one of my friends decided to leave her full-time employment. Our plan was to spend 3 months in South East Asia, then the last two months travelling Australia on the tourist visas we had.
Our first destination was Vietnam; we spent 2 incredible weeks here. We went from Hanoi all the way down to Hoh Chi Minh City, so this involved several 18 hour overnight sleeper buses which had bunk beds – something totally different to anything we’d ever experienced before. Particular highlights were the war museums and Cu Chi Tunnels, oh and how cheap everything was! We stayed in a 20-bed dorm… that was an experience! It was strange to see so many mopeds and no roundabouts – it was an absolute mission to cross the road.
Next stop was Thailand, where the beaches were stunning. My favourite place had to be Chiang Mai, where we went to an elephant sanctuary and a Thai cooking school. Followed by this we went to the Philippines, with the highlight being the stunning rice terraces in Banaue. We visited Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, which were also stunning. Next we went to Indonesia. I particularly enjoyed Bali, where the brunch scene was amazing, as well as the frozen cocktails, yoga, coffee plantations and our trip to the monkey forest in Ubud. We got to check out the Gili Islands from Bali too.
Whilst in Indonesia, we all felt that we weren’t ready for the trip to end, and decided to apply for working holiday visas for Australia, which meant we could stay up to 1 year. What was originally meant to be a 5-month trip turned into a 15-month trip for me; I left home in September 2016 and returned in December 2017.
I can’t even put into words how amazing the trip was – living and working in Australia was incredible! I worked at Opera Kitchen (yes – right below the Sydney Opera House with views of the Harbour Bridge every day!). Some highlights from travelling up the east coast in Australia included Fraser Island, Whitsundays, Sky Dive at Mission Beach and Scuba Diving in the Great Barrier Reef. I also met friends for life who I’ve gone to visit this year in 2018 in Belgium and Wales, and hopefully a trip to Germany next year in 2019.
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tough adjusting to home life again. Everyone wants to meet up with you when you first come back home, but how can you possibly explain 15 months of experiences to someone over a 2-hour dinner? I remember really enjoying being home for Christmas and the festive cheer! However, when it came to January 2018, reality hit me and everyone had gone back to work – I was stuck at home unsure where to begin. It was a little daunting, however, I tried to remain optimistic. A good starting point for me was when I booked an appointment to see a careers advisor at RGU – this was really useful for CV advice.
After I fixed up my CV, submitted a fair few applications, and attended 4 job interviews, I secured my first role as Marketing Executive in March 2018 (nearly 2 years after graduating). Now, I’m about to start my new job as Communications and Marketing Coordinator in November, which I’m very excited about. I can definitely vouch for those who don’t feel ready to go straight into full-time employment after uni – go and see the world, take a risk, take a gap year and do something you want to do, not what society expects you to do! You’ll experience new cultures, learn how to properly budget, be pushed out of your comfort zones, and best of all – meet a whole group of different people and make heaps of new friends!