Career breaks: the new gap year

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There’s a lot of fear amongst students around ‘starting your adult life’, being stuck in the corporate world, and basically signing your life away after you've started your career.

It’s not uncommon to find yourself yearning for something new but how can you achieve this without dropping all your responsibilities? After all, you’re an adult now – your opportunity for a gap year has been and gone. Wrong!

Career breaks : the new gap year 

A decade ago career breaks could’ve been considered career suicide by some, but now they’re becoming increasingly popular in the corporate world.

A career break is dedicated time away from your job, typically lasting anything from 1 to 12 months. Career breaks are essentially unpaid leave from work which is agreed between an employee and their employer. The key thing about a career break is that you’ll have the security of being allowed to come back to a similar role when you return.

How do I know if it’s right for me?

This is something that’ll be personal and really depend on you.

You’ve really got to ask yourself, “Why do I want to take this break and what do I want to achieve during this time out?”

By really understanding the purpose of the break, you won’t waste the opportunity.

Does Nationwide provide career breaks?

In short, yes. Organisations do not have to provide employees with the option to take career breaks, but we believe it’s the right thing to do. Our career break policy typically lasts from 1 to 6 months.

We’re committed to supporting employees in fulfilling their personal commitments or to pursue interests and activities that they may have outside of the workplace.

Whilst enabling us to retain their skills and experience, it’s hoped that new ideas, skills, motivation and enthusiasm may result from an employee’s time away from the business and therefore our employees may apply for an unpaid career break under our career break policy.

Our employees and their career breaks

Sophie, Operations Analyst, 6 months off

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“When I left University, I didn’t have the money to travel and had to apply for full time work to be able to my pay bills. But, when I was more stable with my career and saved some money I decided to take a break to live the dream and travel the world just like I had originally planned to do. I went on a travelling adventure around South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand”

Mark, Branch manager, 4 months off 

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“5 years after entering the world of work in 1998, an old friend and I started talking about doing a bit of travelling.

Once we confirmed our career breaks with our companies, we booked flights to Thailand, Australia and Indonesia over 4 months. We left with our backpacks, literally not knowing where we would be staying, all we knew were the flight dates and times to and from each of the destinations! Scary stuff but one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Alex, Risk Consultant, 6 months + off

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“I'd always wanted to travel and after college I didn’t have sufficient money behind me to go before starting a full time job. I worked for Nationwide for a few years before I realised that career breaks were available to me so I took the opportunity.”

Emily, Marketing Executive,  6 months off 

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“During my travels I visited 7 countries in South America, then went to USA, then Fiji and New Zealand. It was the most enriching and incredible experience of my life so far. I’m extremely grateful to Nationwide for letting me take 6 months break when I hadn’t been with the company for that long.”

Martin, Technical Specialist, 4 months off 

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“I took 4 months off between October and Feb this year for an extended honeymoon, we went travelling around New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia!”

Find out more about us as an employer by taking a look at our Why work for us section.

If you had 6 months off work, what would you do?