What do you do when you’ve graduated college and you haven’t landed your dream job yet? Twenty-two year old Kimberly Ang had no idea either so she decided to take a year off to take the GRE’s, apply for grad school ad figure out her next step. After fumbling around taking odd jobs and trying to find her niche, she partnered with Amber Rackliffe to create their own.
Give Your Gap is an amazing project that offers a solution to the post graduate blues. If you can’t figure out what life after college means, why not give yourself the time and space to help others before you enter the workforce?
Amber and Kimberly created Give Your Gap to offer an alternative to toiling away at dead end jobs in between your college graduation and finding the perfect career opportunity. Give Your Gap encourages new graduates to work for non profits and social businesses on a global scale.
Women like Caryn Oppenheim who graduated from Bowdoin College interned fro a grassroots NGO, EduCARE in India for 3 months. Megan Leatherman, a University of Oregon graduate, has devoted her gap to human rights and community development work at the Kayan-Feminist Organization in the Middle East.
Graduates from across the country are flipping what many would consider to be a lull in life into one of the best adventures ever.
For Kimberly, a California native, the adventure began with lots of trepidation. “I think the biggest mental block is legitimizing the idea to yourself. As in, not thinking you are crazy,” Kimberly says. “Amber and I questioned if it was a good idea, if we could do it, if we could finance it, etc. As people started joining our team, giving us positive and critical feedback – that’s when we knew we could really roll with the idea.”
You don’t have to wait years to see your daydreams become reality, the concept for Give Your Gap was fleshed out in August 2011 and a few months later, the website was launched. “Running a website is pretty inexpensive,” Kimberly shares. “ We’ve paid for the domain out of pocket and we use WordPress, a very user-friendly platform. We registered ourselves as a volunteer organization, opened a bank account, and we are fully operational. I wouldn’t say our dreams have already come true: GiveYourGap is still a work in progress. There’s a lot that lies ahead – fundraising, website development, partnering with other organizations, etc. But we feel the organization growing every day.”
Right now Kimberly is traveling through Asia with the GiveYourGap Travel Team. They are hop-skipping around Asia meeting with nonprofits, NGOs, and social enterprises to learn more about what young people can do in global development. “We started our trip in the Philippines and have since traveled to Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, India, and right now we’re in Nepal. Theoretically, we are working-playing 50/50. We arrive in a country, try to get a bit of our bearings, meet up with a nonprofit, do interviews and meet with volunteers, and try to share what we learn on www.giveyourgap.org,” Kimberly tells us.
Besides work, Kimberly and her team are backpacking, sightseeing, eating amazing cheap eats, couchsurfing and exploring cultures.
“We have met so many people on the road that have given their gaps and learned first hand about global issues,” Kimberly says. “Whether you are working in public health, economic development, education, environmentalism – getting out in the field gives you a much broader and deeper perspective of development. And what every person tells us is that in addition to learning all this stuff about their work, they learn even more about themselves. They learn how much more they’re capable of, discover what types of things they really don’t want to do, what things they are super passionate about.”
Kimberly offers sound advice for women who are considering starting a new venture. “Surround yourself with people who (1) believe in you and (2) are honest with you,” Kimberly advises. “Listen to them when they say, ‘This is a great idea,’ and when they say, ‘You need to take a break.’ Your core group will keep you grounded, sane, and inspired. No woman is an island!”
For more information about this fascinating initiative, please visit www.giveyourgap.org