taking the year off?

  1. hi girls! did anybody see this article on yahoo today:


    anyway, the article seems to be very specific about a particular set of circumstances. but i was wondering what employers tend to think about a year of non-work or non-career-related activity?

    i'm basically making a big career change... as some of you might know, i quit med/grad school because i was absolutely miserable, and am in the process of applying to law school instead... it's a huge jump, i know, but i've really looked into law as a career, sat in on law school classes, interrogated lawyer friends, etc. and just really feel amazed that there really is a career out there that could be such a perfect match for me. :p

    anyway, i originally thought about working as a paralegal or something else in a law firm for awhile to "gain experience"... but i've been thinking a lot, also, about just relaxing for a year, living off of odd jobs (tutoring, part-time admin assts), maybe trying to write a book (i have tons of short stories lying around that i would like to expand)... would i really have to justify this to future employers? i just feel kind of burned out... worked essentially 12-14 hour days for the last 5 years and would really like to take a break and do something different. :shrugs:

    have any of you taken time off like this? what did you do during your "sabbatical"?
  2. Yes, I did. It's the best vacation I ever had in my life. I spent almost a year in Australia. Bought car, insurance and got driver license and drove around Melbourne and Sydney. Rent house in Fairfield, NSW. Got volunteer job with CentaCare and a short term teaching contract. I ate the best of the world Australian King Crabs and sweetest mangoes. Visited Blue Mountain and Palm Beach multiple times. I enjoyed driving interstate highways between Victoria, NSW and Canberra. The "roads" were almost empty compared to US Interstates freeways. A year of totally relaxing I never forget. If it's possible, I'll do again. This time it will be Paris.
  3. wow, katie, that sounds amazing! may i ask where you're from?

    you reminded me: when i visited guatemala for a guilty week-and-a-half, i met a lot of europeans who had taken 5 months to a year off just to travel around the world. i barely saw anyone from the US. i feel like there's a really different perspective on vacation and "time off" in europe than in the US....
  4. I am from US ;) I understand what's you are saying. Actually, I am very much different from the rest of my family. I think I have my own definition of the term "freedom" . That's what dictates how I should run my life.:tup:
  5. Funny, when I read the subject line before clicking that Yahoo article was the first thing I thought of!

    I'm curious to see what others have to say, but I think if you're truly burnt out and are looking to clear your mind, taking a year off isn't such a bad thing. Obviously, going to law school is a big (and time-consuming) move, so you're going to want to be ready to take it on fully. You justification for wanting to take a year off sounds legitimate to me, so I don't see why it wouldn't to future employers and/or schools. I think as long as you make it very clear that you took a year off because you needed time to REALLY figure out which direction you wanted life to head AND needed time to recharge and prepare for the intense years ahead (noting that your break made you realize how important it is for you to be going back to school/work/etc), you should be fine.

    Maybe I'm naive, but I feel like now's the time to do it. If you're stressed and burnt out and go directly into working as a paralegal (then presumably onto law school and, then, to a new job), it'll start the cycle over again.

    If you're really wary about it, any chance you could take three to six months off instead of a full year? A shorter amount of time may do the trick :smile:

    I'm a total advocate for taking time to figure things out and enjoying life, especially when dealing with high-pressure situations and/or jobs.

    I'm not exactly in the same boat, but I graduated in May and am working on completing my second internship (trying to get my foot in the PR/Marketing door!) I'll complete this internship in May and am seriously considering taking the summer to travel Europe before starting a real job. While I don't think I'll be burnt out by May, I do know that it's going to become significantly harder to find the time for international travel once I start my career, go to grad school, marry, etc. etc. It makes more sense for me to do it now, and it sounds to me like this may be the right time for you to do a similar sort of thing.

    Sorry, this post became longer than I anticipated.

    I think you should go for it!
  6. I think if you are completely switching fields, taking a year off isn't going to be a problem. If you were staying in the medical profession though, it is always some kind of red flag. Everyone will want to know why you took that year off. I think most employers want to know because they want to guage how stable you are ("I took my chance to see the world" is a great reason, I think, vs. "I had an emotional meltdown and needed to recover").
    I took a year off after finishing med school and got to do so many things I would've missed out on otherwise. Enjoy yourself! I don't think employers will see this unfavorably if it's a personal choice and not because you couldn't get employment or kept getting fired from jobs you did manage to get.
  7. i have done this a couple times. i am an attorney and left a very prestigious firm and travelled around the world for a couple years about 7 years ago. it was not as easy to find a job when i got back because of my time off but i eventually did land at another prestigious firm. i left that firm for family reasons about 3 years ago and then decided to travel again. again, it was not easy finding a job when i came back but i made a career change at that time and eventually found a a career that i am excited about (the career is exciting, not the current job).

    truly, i have no regrets about taking the time off. it was the best thing i could ever have done.

    if you are planning to go to law school, just do well there and no one will care what you did before you started. you are in a perfect position to take the time off.
  8. wow, thank you guys for your responses! i really appreciate your thoughts and the time you took to respond :yes:

    pinkdancer, i totally agree! kind of the same thoughts have been floating around my head for awhile but i've always been on a plan, and the idea of NOT doing anything "constructive" for a year (or at least next fall, when i start law school) sounds scary. but the more i think about it (and thanks to your responses :jammin:) i'm starting to look forward to being "non-constructive" for awhile. and yes, you should absolutely travel Europe before moving forward, if you're just taking next summer off.

    hipnycmom, that sounds totally amazing and bold that you took a year off after med school. i always thought people (especially med people!) followed a straight trajectory and didn't bother pausing. did you have to do a lot of explaining to residency programs and such that you didn't go directly after med school?

    chigirl, wow, that's awesome! i'd love to know where you traveled. i LOVE your signature quote, too. :p i was thinking actually of doing more traveling in guatemala, learning spanish at the home-stay schools - cost of living is ridiculously cheap there. i would love to hear your thoughts on law and careers in law, too, and your career change - pm me if you have time.
  9. Wow, taking a year or two off sounds so exciting. I guess I'm in a situation where I can't even find 1 week off, hehehe (kids, job, bills).

    If I plan to do it , I would do it somewhere whre the COL is cheap like asia. I can't imagaine me relaxing and seeing all the expenses adding up:push:.
  10. BlueGenes, take the year off, if you feel that would be best for you. I don't think potential employers would be too suspicious, since the year off follows or precedes a major career or professional change.

    I would recommend, however, going with your first idea of getting experience in the legal profession, precisely for the reason that you're contemplating such a bold change. Becoming a legal assistant or paralegal will definitely help you better see what you'd be signing up for in law school. Many ppl find it's not for them, just as many ppl find med school isn't for them after a course or two, after working in a hospital, etc. In New York especially, the legal field is cut-throat. The practice of law isn't what it seems, and your "initiation" period is a lot longer than many other fields.

    If you work as a legal assistant as part time or full time, you'd at once get your feet wet in the field, and have time to pursue your writing.

    Keep us updated on your decision.
  11. oops.. double post:upsidedown:
  12. BlueGenes, I agree with Fatefullotus, taking the year off sounds really gooood. A friend of mine took a year off at the end of med school, and TRAVELLED, while everyone was looking at the finish line. Loved it, then finished his last year of med school. Now he's done with residency and also took some time off between residency and fellowship with more travelling. I also know someone who quit in the last 6 months of residency :wtf: to pursue something else. AFTER ALL THOSE YEARS, right? Well, he tried what he wanted to do, then eventually decided it wasn't for him, and now works in a totally different field, but not far from med.
    I also have a ton of attorney friends who say there are too many lawyers and not enough jobs. A 'successful' law friend said it is a very competitive and cut-throat industry... and the grueling hours is no joke either:push:. I also know a handful of recent law grads unable to find decent jobs in SF, LA, NY and Boston so they are forced to open their own shop.

    Taking the year off will have you regroup & recharge, and afford you the time to do things you've been meaning to do.. highly recommend. I also took a year off from work and it was a luxury and a necessity at the time.

    I'm just curious how far along you were in med school, and is it one of those "I'll happily never look back" moments when you quit? The reason I ask is... there are certain fields in medicine, I'm sure you know which ones already, that can afford you a ton of time, and also stability. Once you are done with the crazy grueling training in med school and residency, you can have a 9-5 job, with some free time, for you to write and pursue your interests.

    I wish you the best, and definietly keep us posted!
  13. I'm thinking about doing the same under the excuse of "writing a book" to justify it to my parents.

    If you are pretty certain you are going to law school, taking a year off before it is no big deal. You'll have even less chance to do so after you start law school.

    I know a lot of people who take major breaks before or after school (like business school or undergrad), and it's no big deal at all. A lot of my friends will defer starting their jobs (if they can afford it -- the bonus helps) for at least a few months so they can travel before starting that high powered, high stress job.

    Good luck!