Trends in Unemployment: Adult 'Gap Year' Explorations
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

black woman traveling

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With 3.8 million people unemployed for 27 months or longer, the question becomes: What’s the next step?

Many who have been out of work and actively seeking employment are hitting brick walls, facing immense frustration and fear. But some who have been jobless have decided to use the time to rethink their lives, their careers, their purpose and their happiness.

Freelancer Annie Davies wrote for the New York Post about her experience, during a period of not having a job, where she decided to throw caution to the wind and travel abroad for a year. To remedy burnout after her layoff, she packed her bags and spent time traveling the U.S. and Europe, while taking on projects here and there.

Particularly, millennials who have been out of work for extended periods of time might find this option attractive. Davies notes that a 2013 study by the Boston Consulting Group found that people ages 18 to 34 report a 23% greater desire to travel abroad than other generations.

Though this may not seem ideal for those with a family and mounting bills, for professionals with nothing but time and rejection letters filling their inboxes, traveling abroad to explore global options might be just the thing they need to give their career advancement efforts a boost.

But, how do you explain the ‘gap year’ to prospective employers once you decide to rejoin the traditional employment pool? Experts recommend focusing on the applicable skills you learned from your experiences or explaining how your travels impacted your network or connections to global leaders. Also, while abroad, it’s a good idea to map out where you will go and your purpose and agenda for going. You could even set up some informational meetings or connect with a professional you know in another locale.

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Janell Hazelwood

Janell Hazelwood is associate managing editor at Black Enterprise, managing content across core areas of Money, Career, Small Business and Technology. She is also a featured blogger with My Two Cents, providing insights on branding, millennial career development, employment trends and leadership. She was previously a content producer and copy editor for Black Enterprise magazine, working across several editorial sections. The Hampton University graduate got her start in the newspaper industry, having worked for companies including The New York Times and Scripps Howard News Service. Her works and insights have appeared on The Huffington Post, MadameNoire, E!Online, Brazen Careerist, CBS News, and Arise TV.