Career breaks and sabbaticals

Caroline Cassidy

The New Year is a time to look forward to a better and brighter future. For many, thoughts will turn to new challenges, a new outlook and, in some cases, a total career change.

Career breaks and sabbaticals are becoming increasingly popular, not just amongst university leavers but also for adults looking for excitement and fulfilment.

Young woman on sabbatical in Africa
Young woman on sabbatical in Africa

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Taking a fun but educational career break is no longer frowned upon by employers - in fact a sabbatical can even boost your career prospects, since they often add new and desirable skills to your CV. With this in mind, some companies even have career break policies in place, allowing staff a specified number of months away from work with a guaranteed position upon their return.

Of course, it's important to carefully plan your career break as it will take time to save money and find the experience that is right for you.

However, there are a host of options on offer.

For example, if you are at home in the water, why not train to be a Divemaster. Adventure experiences company Yomps offer an eight-week course in Ecuador - living just minutes from the sandy beach and clear waters, after two months you'll have learned to speak basic Spanish, have newly-acquired professional qualifications in open water diving and dive rescue as well as experience of working in a dive centre.

The same company offers a six-month trip to South African Safari School - survival skills, conservation, wildlife tracking, the opportunity to see stunning wildlife in its natural habitat... and a professional safari guide qualification to boot. Should you need any further persuasion, Yomps Director Antony Wilson completed the course and continued to work in the African Bush for three years before returning to the UK.

If you are keen to give something back to the community, why not consider a volunteer project?

FutureSense offer a range of options from teaching and healthcare to building and sports coaching. Not only can you make use of your existing skills and passions, but you'll help those whose lives are not as privileged as our own and build friendships in countries such as India, Chile, Romania and Tanzania.

Alternatively, get involved in conservation with a variety of courses designed to give participants the chance to help protect the natural habitat of endangered species and animals in need across the world, from turtles in Goa or elephants in South Africa, to animal rescue in Jaipur. A good place to start is, a site that offers a wide range of volunteer opportunities.

But taking a career break doesn't have to mean travelling abroad. Charitable sabbatical opportunities are available here in the UK too - The Career Break Site provides sabbatical-seekers with a number of British courses including seasonal work at children's camps and residential work with children, adolescents and adults with disabilities.

So if you are considering a career change, are keen to experience a different way of life or would like to give something back, check out your options... you might just find the career of your dreams.