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You are here:   Ultimate Law Guide > Articles > How a constructive gap year can enhance your career prospects

How a constructive gap year can enhance your future career prospects

Students on gap year

It is well known that the competition for training contracts is the toughest that it has been for a long time. Law firms are continually stating their desire for students with a well varied skill- set; however, many students often forget to work on their ‘soft skills’, important skills such as communication, determination, teamwork, leadership and self- confidence. For example, there is little use being an expert on commercial awareness if you cannot communicate effectively in a meeting or with a difficult client.

Furthermore, many students struggle with portraying their abilities in terms of the above skill set in applications and during interviews. A gap year provides a great way for you to enhance and develop these important transferable skills- assisting with your career trajectory and enhancing your employability prospects. Joining a volunteer expedition with youth and education charity, Raleigh (
www.raleighinternational.org) offers experiences in Borneo, Costa Rica & Nicaragua and India working on sustainable community and environmental projects as well as a challenging adventure phase. As well as concentrating on making genuinely needed change in these local communities, the charity also focuses on the personal development of its young people. The expedition gives you tangible experiences to highlight , allowing you to back up your answers with solid and unique examples.

‘...The numerous experiences and the breadth of personal development opportunities available on a Raleigh expedition give you so many things to draw on and to talk about in an interview... Lynne Webster (Trainee solicitor with Tods Murray LLP).

Maximise your gap year with Raleigh:

Internationally respected, Raleigh was established in 1984 and runs adventure and challenge expeditions for 17-24 year olds (venturers) from a wide range of backgrounds, nationalities and life stages. People aged 25+ can join as volunteer managers either helping to facilitate a group of young people on a project site or running the expedition at field base, the organizational hub. The organisation is committed to increasing the confidence and soft skills of young people as well as contributing to sustainable environmental and community development.

Raleigh runs expeditions throughout the year- to Borneo (Malaysian), Costa Rica & Nicaragua and India. Raleigh’s full expeditions last 10 weeks. For those short on time but not enthusiasm, there is also the option for a student to take part in a five week expedition during the summer.   

Where can I go?

Borneo (Malaysia):
Located on the island of Borneo, Sabah has it all: stunning mountain terrain, equatorial rainforests, and some of the most beautiful islands in the world. Borneo is home to a unique range of plant, insect and animal species found nowhere else on the planet. It also boasts rich marine life with some of the best dive spots in the world. But it is its rich mix of cultures, people and history that Sabah has most to shout about.

Costa Rica & Nicaragua: Choosing a Costa Rica & Nicaragua expedition allows you to get to know two different countries. Costa Rica with its beautiful variety of national parks, world-class biodiversity, stunning & challenging trekking terrain and remote indigenous reserves and Nicaragua with it remote rural communities, traditional 'campesino' culture and fascinating history make for a rich and diverse location to undertake volunteer projects.

India: India witnesses a huge disparity between the urbanised wealthy and the rural poor. Although government initiatives are targeting this and attempting to redress the balance changing an embedded culture and reversing the tide in a sub-continent as huge as India is not a fast process. India has the last remaining Bengal tiger population on the planet - this is fast disappearing along with the Asian elephant both indigenous to the forests of India.

What can I do?

Raleigh offers the chance for you to get involved with a range of different projects, including Community, Environmental and Adventure projects.

Huts in Costa Rica
A Community project in Costa Rica & Nicaragua gives volunteers a unique opportunity to work alongside members of the community to help provide basic facilities such as clean water and schools. As a volunteer you may be involved in activities such as building kindergartens, or perhaps constructing tribal housing for indigenous villages.



The Adventure phase in Borneo is a tough physical and mental challenge. During the trek volunteers learn jungle skills to survive one of the most arduous environments on earth and when you finish you will feel confident that you can do and overcome anything.


Financing your gap year with Raleigh

Raleigh is registered and well known charity and therefore requires you to fundraise for your trip. The fundraising targets are dependant on the duration of your expedition and once signed, a dedicated Support Coordinator at Raleigh’s Head Office in London will advise and assist you with your fundraising ideas and activities. Raleigh is currently offering an exciting Graduate Bursary Award for recent graduates or those who are about to graduate this year. For more information and to check that you are eligible, please see the Raleigh website.

Developing key skills with Raleigh:


Kate Owen (Trainee solicitor with Herbert Smith LLP).

...I learnt to cope with the unexpected, to be flexible and adaptable, to motivate the people around me, keep calm under pressure and appreciate the importance of retaining a sense of humour in adversity. All useful skills for City law...

Read more about Kate’s experience in her case study, here (PDF).

Amy Broughton (Aspiring solicitor).

...The challenge of the trek also led me to realise that I am a much more determined person than I thought and that faced with a challenge I can step up if needed and I feel these are skills that will be essential not only when I start my GDL but also in a working environment...

Read more about Amy’s experience in her case study here (PDF).

Katie Lang (Trainee solicitor with Berrymans Lace Mawer LLP).

...Raleigh also gave me the skills to be able to work in a team and speak well during job interviews. The job I hold now required me to give a 10 minute presentation and mine was on my time with Raleigh. The partner who interviewed me was full of questions at the end and I felt proud discussing my achievement...

Read more about Katie’s experience in her case study here (PDF).


For more information about the charity and how you can get involved, either as an individual joining an expedition, an organisation wishing to commission a bespoke expedition or as an individual or organisation wanting to support Raleigh’s charitable activities, please visit www.raleighinternational.org