Interested in taking a Gap Year?
A gap year is taking a year off between graduating from undergraduate studies and starting graduate school or pursuing a job. If considering a gap year, we encourage you to take this time to increase your professional and personal awareness. Reasons students may take a gap year include:
- Want to work and earn money before graduate school
- Still deciding and exploring options
- Using this time to travel
- Taking a break and recharging
- Preparing for graduate school
- Focusing on personal development
Gap Year Options
USC Career Center has curated a sampling of programs and resources related to taking a gap year. Some may be paused due to COVID-19. Make an appointment to discuss additional resources on how to plan your gap year experience.
Fellowships and service programs provide training to serve in a specific capacity, typically requiring a minimum commitment of 1-2 years, and include modest compensation to cover living costs.
Serving with an AmeriCorps State and National program puts you in an environment that propels your personal development, opens diverse career paths, and promotes lifelong civic engagement. Select from hundreds of service opportunities that allow you to put your passion into action. (9-12 months)
Through capacity building activities such as fundraising, grant writing, research, and volunteer recruitment AmeriCorps members in the VISTA program serve in an office setting and gain experience and leadership skills. This opportunity prepares members for a life of service in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. (1 year)
AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time service program that covers lodging and travel expenses, allowing young adults to serve on a team and make an impact in communities across the country while gaining valuable leadership skills. (10 months)
Green Corps is the country’s most respected training program for environmental organizers, with over 400 of our graduates at work today on the most urgent environmental issues of our time. If you’re passionate about the environment and ready to learn and practice the craft of organizing, our yearlong program is the best place to start. (1 year)
When you join Public Allies, you join a national network of emerging leaders dedicated to creating a future by and for everyone. You’ll learn, grow, and lead in diverse and challenging environments to address real issues in your community. (10 months)
Whether you are on a career track or deciding on which career you would like to pursue, CDC has many diverse fellowship, internship, training, and volunteer opportunities for students and professionals. Many of these opportunities provide invaluable experience and potentially offer clear cut paths to exciting careers with CDC. (1-2 years)
HealthCorps is a national non-profit organization committed to saving lives by addressing health inequities in at-risk communities through educational leadership, programming, and service learning. (1-2 years)
The NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE) is a division of the Office of Intramural Research (OIR), Office of the Director (OD). Their mission is to enhance the training experience of students and fellows on all of the NIH campuses. They work closely with the Training Offices in the NIH Institutes and Centers to help trainees in the Intramural Research Program (IRP) develop scientific and professional skills that will enable them to become leaders in the biomedical research community. (8 weeks-2 years)
The Capital Fellows Programs are nationally recognized public policy fellowships which offer unique experiences in policy-making and development in each branch of government. Capital Fellows are placed at some of the highest levels of California state government and assist state legislators, senior-level executive staff, and court administrators with a broad range of public policy issues and projects and are typically given assignments with a significant amount of responsibility and challenges. (10-11 months)
City Hall Fellows works nationally to attract, grow, and retain a talented workforce to engage in the work of cities. They are a non-partisan, non-profit organization that believes local government is the most rewarding place to grow your career and positively impact communities. (1 year)
The Congressional Hunger Center invests in the development of emerging leaders in the movement to end hunger in the United States and around the world. They strive to engage leaders, especially leaders who have experienced hunger and poverty and leaders of color, in bridging the gap between field and policy, community and Congress, theory and practice. (11 month-2 years)
The Coro Fellows Program develops emerging leaders to work and lead across different sectors by equipping them with knowledge, skills, and networks to accelerate positive change. The Coro Fellows Program develops emerging leaders to work and lead across different sectors by equipping them with knowledge, skills, and networks to accelerate positive change. (9 months)
City Year AmeriCorps members serve as student success coaches, supporting the development, growth and success of students in systemically under-resourced schools, while cultivating skills to be leaders in their communities and careers. (11 months)
Match Corps is a one-year AmeriCorps service position/ education fellowship where members serve as full-time tutors and mentors at our middle (grade 6-8) or high school (grade 9-12) campus. Recent college graduates from universities across the country commit a year of service to closing the achievement gap in Boston, one student at a time. (1 year)
The NYC Teaching Fellows program is one of the country’s largest and most selective alternative teacher preparation programs. As a Fellow, you’ll train in NYC classrooms, working one-on-one with experienced coaches to get the feedback you need to become a talented teacher, ready to make a profound difference for NYC’s students. (7-8 weeks)
Teach For America recruits outstanding and diverse leaders to become TFA “corps members.” Corps members commit to teaching for two years in a low-income community, where they’re employed by local schools and confront both the challenges and joys of expanding opportunities for kids. (2 years)
Spend a year in the Jewish Service Corps working at a leading anti-poverty nonprofit in Chicago, New Orleans, New York, or Washington, DC. Our Corps Members live and learn together in a supportive, pluralistic community at the crossroads of justice and Jewish life. (1 year)
Catholic Volunteer Network is a membership organization of over 180 faith-based volunteer programs. Members offer full-time service opportunities ranging from one week to one year or more, both here in the United States and in more than 100 countries around the world. Christian full-time national and international volunteer and mission programs are invited to become members of the network. (1 week-2+ years)
Jesuit Volunteers perform vital service for folks in need across 37 communities in five countries. Over 176 service agencies at the front lines of social justice rely on JVs to fulfill their missions. As a JV, you’ll be part of an international network of young leaders fighting for a more just and hopeful world together. (1-2 years)
LVC is a community of faith that unites people to work for peace and justice. They pursue the mission by placing volunteers in full-time service positions at social-justice organizations for a year or semester. (15 weeks-1year)
Vincentian Mission Corps Volunteers dedicate ten-and-a-half months to living in community and serving others in California or St. Louis. Volunteers serve in a variety of areas including education, healthcare, social work, and social services. (10.5 months)
Amigos de las Américas inspires leaders through authentic service and immersion experiences. AMIGOS Gap Programs for high school graduates provide immersion and leadership experiences in Latin America. Students will live with a host family and complete an internship with a local organization where they will develop, support, and implement a sustainable service project. (3-36 weeks)
Global Health Corps places fellows within high-impact health organizations and Ministries of Health in Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia to fill critical roles, from supply chain and data analysis to program implementation and policy and advocacy. Working in co-fellow pairs, fellows learn and contribute in these roles. (13 months)
The Global Routes Independent Track (GRIT) is tailored to the individual goals and interests of each participant. GRIT Gap experiences are best for intrepid, motivated, and engaged explorers, ages 18+ at the time of travel, who are seeking a more independent experience over a group-based program, but who also want expert support along the way to plan and navigate their Gap experience.
Global Service Corps (GSC) has been providing challenging and life changing service-learning volunteer work, internship and student experiences in seven countries since 1993. GSC offers students the opportunity to combine academic work, cultural immersion and internship experiences with Cambodian NGO’s and other community development professionals. GSC will work with your college program or advisor to provide service-learning programs for credit. (2 weeks-6 months)
The Peace Corps is a service opportunity for motivated changemakers to immerse themselves in a community abroad, working side by side with local leaders to tackle the most pressing challenges of our generation. Each program has different time commitments and requirements but all offer the opportunity to serve abroad and make the most of your world with projects ranging from education to business development. (2 years)
Projects Abroad is the world’s largest provider of international volunteering, internships and meaningful travel experiences. As champions of Responsible Travel, all their volunteer projects work towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Students can participate in volunteering projects, structured internships, ethical consumerism trips, or authentic adventures with the support of Projects Abroad staff. (1-8 weeks)
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. They work with partners to integrate qualified, highly motivated and well supported UN Volunteers into development programming and promote the value and global recognition of volunteerism. UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and reports to the UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board. (3-12 months)
Volunteers for Peace is a Vermont-based nonprofit offering meaningful, cross-cultural & affordable volunteer opportunities as well as sustainable, community-led projects. You can search by country or project type to find your best fit. (1 week-2 years)
Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is a worldwide movement to link visitors with organic farmers, promote a cultural and educational exchange, and build a global community conscious of ecological farming and sustainability practices. As a WWOOFer, you will participate in the daily life of your host, help on the farm, learn about sustainability, experience a new culture and meet new people, and receive free room and board during your stay. (2 weeks-6 months)
Founded in 1947, CIEE’s mission is to help people gain understanding, acquire knowledge, and develop skills for living in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world through the most meaningful exchange programs available. Get a TEFL certification with CIEE’s 150-hour course, and/or choose from one of CIEE’s Teach Abroad Programs in Thailand, Spain, China, or South Korea. (3-12 months)
Resource for ESL + EFL teachers and students from around the world. Includes job search resources, international job board, and advice. (1 year)
EPIK teachers assist teachers with their English classes, and/or jointly conduct English classes with teachers, and/or extracurricular activities or English camps in Korea. (1 year)
InterExchange is a non-profit international exchange organization. They promote cross-cultural awareness and understanding through international work, teaching, and volunteer exchange programs. (1 week-1 year)
The JET Program is a competitive employment opportunity that allows young professionals to live and work in cities, towns, and villages throughout Japan. Being a JET is an opportunity to work and to represent the United States as cultural ambassadors to Japan. Most participants serve as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) and work in public and private schools throughout Japan; some work as Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs) as interpreters/translators. (1 year)
Partner with elementary and secondary schools in Spain to bolster language programs, as language assistants (TAs) under the supervision and guidance of teachers in Spain. (7 months)
The Beautiful China Teaching Support Project recruits outstanding young talents, and after training, they are sent to areas where educational resources are scarce and work as full-time teachers to engage in front-line basic education teaching. (2 years). Please note to read the English language webpage you may need to use your browser’s translation extension. Additionally, Teach for China is part of the Teach for All Network which consists of opportunities in 56 countries.
TEFL – Teach English as a Foreign Language – and find jobs abroad and online with The TEFL Org. TEFL certified teachers are in high demand worldwide, from Spain to South Korea, Mexico to Morocco, and everywhere in between. Teach in public and private language schools, work with children and adults, beginners to advanced learners – the opportunities for English teachers are diverse and plentiful! (1 year)
The following organizations have been curated to help assist in finding short-term work abroad, typically for a fee.
AIESEC is a global platform for young people to explore and develop their leadership potential. It is a non-political, independent, not-for-profit organization run by students and recent graduates of institutions of higher education. Its members are interested in world issues, leadership and management. Since it was founded in 1948, AIESEC has engaged and developed over 1,000,000 young people who have been through an AIESEC experience. Its alumni include business, NGO and world leaders, including one Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Martti Ahtisaari of Finland.
Established in 1962, BUNAC is recognized as a specialist in overseas work, travel and volunteer programs and has enabled over 500,000 people to explore the world and gain valuable life skills. Their programs run from as little as two weeks, up to two years, and have multiple options available to suit every budget and time frame. Participants can take part in a BUNAC program during a gap year, summer holidays, after graduation, as part of a university placement, or as a career break.
Since 1947, nonprofit study abroad and intercultural exchange organization CIEE has been bringing the world together, advancing peace by building bridges of mutual understanding between different people, different countries, and different cultures. With CIEE’s internship programs, students can choose from a variety of full-time and part-time internship abroad opportunities. With internships spanning a diversity of fields — from public policy to the arts, business administration to marketing — you can find the right fit for you.
Additional Job & Internship Resources
Work for Good’s mission is to help purpose-driven organizations and talented professionals connect, so together you can do the best work possible. Use their search engine to find opportunities in non-profit organizations in a variety of industries.
As a recent graduate, you may be eligible for federal internships and job opportunities through the Pathways and other student programs.
Explore internship opportunities and tips to help land an internship you want.
Find entry level jobs and internships in their database of over 2,000 companies and non-profits, and discover career options you never knew existed.
Idealist’s mission is to help build a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives by inviting people everywhere to imagine, connect, and act. Search their job, internship, and volunteer opportunities and narrow down your search by issue areas you want to get involved in.