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I Explored a Career With a Working Gap Year

Noah Pelfrey is from Northeast Ohio and graduated from high school in 2017. He is attending Cuyahoga Community College. We asked him some questions about how he planned, what he did, and how he feels about taking a gap year.

Q: What did you do for your gap year?

Pelfrey: Over the summer, I went on a trip to Costa Rica with EF College Study Tours. In the fall, I took one English class at Cuyahoga Community College. Second semester, I took classes there to earn my Emergency Medical Technician Basic degree.

Q: How did you find the opportunity?

Pelfrey: I decided to take a gap year after senior year, but I never got organized and couldn’t decide if I should travel or work. I didn’t want to ask my parents for the money for traveling after the Costa Rica Trip. I decided to take one English class to fulfill some requirements while figuring out what to do next.

After meeting with a pilot my senior year to explore that option, I became disillusioned with that idea. While I was wondering what to do with the next 30 to 40 years, I realized my cousins who work in the medical field are happy. For my senior school project, I shadowed people at University Hospitals and the Emergency Department at The Cleveland Clinic. I loved the excitement of the emergency department, so I decided to spend the second half of my year working toward becoming an EMT Basic.

Q: How did you fund your living expenses for the year?

Pelfrey: My parents paid for the Costa Rica trip as a graduation gift. I’m living at home right now to save money, and I’m using the money my dad saved up for me to help pay for my college education.

Q: How did you grow from your gap year experience?

Pelfrey: I was trying to lean on my dad as senior year ended, but this year gave me perspective: I have to be the one to figure out what I want to do for a job. It’s been two birthdays since age 17, but I still feel like a kid who has been goofing around with his friends. I’m learning to be that responsible person.

After I pass my national registry test, I’m going to apply for jobs as an EMT Basic, which could mean assisting a paramedic or in an emergency room. I’m planning on getting my Paramedic certification next. There’s an 80 percent chance I’ll find my own apartment for the fall.

Q: What advice would you give to other students considering a gap year?

Pelfrey: Find something to do even if you want to have a break from 12 years of constant school. You can’t sit around for a year; it’s not going to help you. My plans never came to fruition. Taking one class and working odd jobs turned into taking more classes and getting a certification.

Nancy Schatz Alton

Nancy Schatz Alton is the co-author of two holistic health care guides, The Healthy Back Book and The Healthy Knees Book. She lives in Seattle with her husband, a teen, a tween, and two Havanese dogs. For more, check her blog or Facebook