Name:Laura Marie O’Malley
Degree and university: Hospitality Management, Glasgow Caledonian University
Current job Title (if applicable): Management trainee ( Food and Beverage Department)
GAP Year:Work America and BUNAC in North America
What was your motivation for applying for this scheme? I have always been keen to travel, to experience new cultures, and meet new people. I also considered the benefits such an experience would have on my CV, and the possibility that I would be one step ahead of other graduates when it came to employability.
What did you do during your time abroad? The first year I worked in a country club for private members. I was a server, which mainly consisted of waiting tables and entertaining guests. I was asked to return the following year and was offered a supervisory role.
How did you fund this? Work America is certainly the most financially sound option if you are interested in living and working in North America. The first year I worked part-time in a bar and saved hard, but it was worth every hour worked! The second summer, I had been working for BUNAC as a Student Marketing Coordinator and instead of taking a wage, I earned credits which helped fund my second trip to the states.
What did you enjoy the most and were there any downsides?I loved the independence and the thrill of doing something completely alone. I was proud of myself for overcoming all the fears I had concerning travelling on my own and I loved meeting all the new and exciting people along the way.
I contracted E-Coli while I was over in America and that was not a pleasant experience! I was taken into hospital and I was very scared. Thankfully I was insured by BUNAC and AIG (American Insurance Group) so I knew I was in good hands and wouldn’t be left with the $3000 medical bill.
What skills did you gain? Apart from the confidence and defined sense of self which comes with travelling, I have also reached and achieved many personal goals. I have become a more patient, calmer person. I am more open-minded and understand many more cultures. I am more assertive, particularly when it comes to my career, and I think all of these skills have prepared me for leaving university and starting out in the real world!
Do you think your time abroad will positively effect your career prospects? Definitely. I have been to numerous interviews and job fairs while looking for my dream job, and everyone I spoke to was very interested in my time abroad. They view this experience as proof that you are a confident, flexible candidate who can adapt to any situation.
Do you have any advice for other graduates? Go and work abroad! I would also advise readers to do it by themselves. Although it can be a little daunting in the beginning, it allows you to break out of your comfort zone and make new friendships. I can’t recommend it enough.