Year of Service

or Gap Year

A gap experience is a purposeful full-time volunteer or paid opportunity to explore or gain life and/or work experience in a field before going into a full-time job, graduate or professional program.  A gap experience is not an excuse to do nothing, instead, this time should be spent intentionally exploring and preparing for what comes after. Gap experiences range in time from a few weeks to a few years.  Some of the more common gap experiences are AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and teaching English abroad, and there are many other possibilities – including structured and unstructured ones that can be created. Gap experiences come in a variety of fields (nonprofit, service, business, research, government, adventure, environment) in a variety of locations (local, regional, national, international), funded and otherwise.” (via Spotlight on Careers)


Gustavus Resources

Year of Service Handout


Where Gusties Have Served


Other Types of Programs

  • Faith-based Programs - With a focus on values and reflection, these programs often require community living.
  • Teaching Residencies/Fellows (Domestic) - Residencies and Fellow programs can be found in many states to prepare candidates for short teaching experiences or long-term careers in education. Through these programs, candidates receive education and training leading to state licensure or certification.  
  • Teaching Abroad - Most programs focus on teaching English, but some will be subject specific. Depending on the country or region, teaching licensure or experience is not required.
  • International Programs - Requiring a more extensive application and preparation process, these programs can be faith-based or secular and may or may not be funded. Programs can range from short-term projects to multi-year commitments.  

Additional Resources

More information on these types of programs can be found on Spotlight on Careers (Username: spotlightpass, Password: liberalarts2017). See the sections on The Gap Year Experience and Teaching Overseas.

BUNAC offers a wide range of opportunities to volunteer, intern, or work in the US or overseas. 

The National Council on Education Exchange, CIEE, is a non-profit offering both study abroad and teaching opportunities.

AIESEC is a non-governmental non-profit organization that offers a variety of internships and volunteer opportunities. 

Updated 8/31/17 LA