Bridging the Gap between School and Career

We normally think that the leap from school to adult life is a natural process that goes smoothly and without hiccups. In fact, it has been found that most school leavers find this transition difficult, which results in a reduces ability to cope with the challenges of work life or studies.

A recent survey among a large number of businesses reported that 88% of employers believe that school leavers are both ill-prepared to cope with career requirements and are not emotionally ready to take responsibility. In addition, they are unsure about their career choices and confused about what they want to get out of work and life in general.

Here is how to make a seamless transition.

Take a planned break

Moving from the safety of home and school towards greater independence also requires adopting a different way of thinking.

Gap year programs aim at exactly this:  bridging the gap between the classroom and a vocation. These programs can be vastly different in nature and have their own unique approaches and content. Typically, a gap year is about getting away from home from a few months to a year and get exposure to new experiences, learning new skills, seeing new places, or meeting new people. Some of these programs focus on travelling, or volunteering work, while others have more dedicated and comprehensive pathways to prepare young adults for what is ahead. Many universities globally view engaging in a gap year as a major plus when considering student applications as it increases the chances of success and decreases the dropout rate. The same is true for first time jobseekers.

Preparing for new challenges requires the ability to challenge boundaries. There are gap years available that offer a range of adventures and nature excursions such as hiking, rock climbing, and skydiving to name a few. You also get programs that include a variety of sports activities and fun events to satisfy different tastes and interests.

To transition successfully, you need to adopt new mindsets and taking a good break full of new experiences creates space for changing mindsets.

Discover yourself

To create a satisfying and successful life, you need to know who you are and what you want to get out of life. It means embarking on a journey of self-discovery to get a closer look at yourself for better self-understanding and self-awareness.

Here is how: Getting exposure from a spectrum new experiences. New environments and activities are the search lights to discover what you like doing and what you are good at. People find it beneficial seeing new places, meeting new people who think completely differently, going and doing things that really challenge comfort zones.  

The next step is self-reflection. Being attentive to what you enjoy and what gives you energy. Looking inside generates the pieces of your puzzle. The pieces are your interests, talents, passions, values, and personality. It also includes the type of lifestyle, environment, and people you want to identify with.

When these puzzle pieces connect and fuse together, a picture emerges. That is when it becomes clear who you are and what you want.

Assess yourself

In addition to self-reflection, self-assessment tools can give further clarity about personality traits, aptitudes, and passions which are fundamental to making the right career decisions. Some career questionnaires automatically match a personal profile to the most suitable vocations. Online resources available are 123test – Career Aptitude test, My Next Move – O*NET Interest Profiler, Truity – Career Personality Profiler , and Career Explorer by Sokanu – Career Test.

If you still feel stuck, consider guidance and assistance from a professional career counsellor or coach, or consult knowledgeable people who can guide you through the maze of options to a definite decision.

Understand the career of your choice

An excellent compass to navigate through the landscape of career exploration is available online. Information about almost any job one can think of is in abundance on the internet. You Chart your course by understanding the industry trends and job market demands to steer you in the direction that aligns with your goals and aspirations.

The process pf gaining a clear view of the requirements and challenges, the pros and cons of a career may take time. Just be patient and stay diligent.

Reading job descriptions is a super shortcut to reach your goal quicker. Job portals, career websites, and professional networking platforms, for example LinkedIn, are indispensable resources. Online communities and forums allow people to connect with those have firsthand experience in the career of your interest. Engaging with these communities can gives a window to have a glimpse into the workplace of the professional world.


Shadowing is the opportunity to just jump straight into a job and feel it yourself. It is about direct experience of a specific work environment. Typically, one accompanies a professionals at work for a day or more and observe him/her working. The insight gained enables one to see whether a career is in line with one’s personal preferences. Talking to the job incumbents and asking questions expands your understanding of what the career entails.

Internships and volunteering

Short internships are the passports for first timers to the job market granting them access to hands-on experience. Typically, short term internships stretch over a period of a few weeks to a few months. It can challenge you to break through your comfort zones, allows you to apply your strengths as well as developing a whole new perspective on work life.

It does not only enable you to explore new territories, industries, and work situations, but also can open doors to develop specific skills that you may need for a career later.

Volunteering is getting involved in work without employment or remuneration. This proves to be a much easier way to gain access to opportunities for work experience. Shadowing proves to be a much easier way to gain access to opportunities to gain work experience.

The resume

In the competitive job market, job seekers need to find ways to stand out from the crowd, many applicants finding it difficult to write effective resumes and cover letters in such a way to be noticed by those who look for applicants.

The key to the door of finding new career opportunities is how you showcase yourself, your experience, and strengths.  A visually appealing, high-quality CV conveys the message that you are conscientious and professional. The first impression determines whether a recruiter will look further at your portfolio or just trash it. Get guidance on how to go about creating a resume and a covering letter. Ask for feedback from others, particularly people knowledgeable of a specific career to fine tune your resume. HR practitioners and professional recruiters can be excellent soundboards.

Fortunately, several AI-power resume builder tools have appeared lately online which can assist you to optimize your CV and increase its chance to be noticed. For instance, Zety assists you create the content and employs prewritten text and templates do the writing. Jobscan compares your resume to job descriptions to help you identify the right key words to use to make sure online searches find you. VMock gives you instant feedback on your CV design, layout, and content ensuring a professional-looking job application.

Online presence

Finally, you need to get out there and become visible to those searching for applicants.

Professional platforms such as LinkedIn are a must. Make sure you post regularly, write blocks while using the keywords. Many apps and websites are at our disposal to identify the most productive keywords to hit your target.  

Social media is an excellent tool to network and spread your message, particularly Facebook, Instagram. Make sure you post regularly. You can also use boosts and advertisements.

Be cautious about what image you project online. Employers and recruiters often scan applicants’ social media for clues about who they are.

Making a successful transition from school to the job market should be fun and enlightening. Choosing the most suitable tools to bridge the gap makes the journey easy.

How to choose a gap year program?

If you consider joining a gap year program , consider whether the following aspects aspect are included:

  • Opportunity to take a break away from home and to have fun.
  • Experiences and challenges to discover interests, talents, and passions.
  • Adventures and challenges to break through comfort zones.
  • Assistance in choosing a career utilizing online career resources.
  • Guidance with personal show casing.
  • Opportunities for shadowing.
  • Assistance in finding volunteering or internship opportunities.

Making a successful transition from school to the job market should be fun but also constructive. Choosing the most suitable tools to bridge the gap promises a smooth and exciting journey.