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  • Writer's pictureAlmeera Eman

Episode 13: Gaining experience and clarity through a gap year with Max Brauch

Updated: May 27, 2022

Max Brauch, originally from Toronto, started back at Concordia University in the fall of 2020 after a gap year built on gaining new experiences, earning money, building relationships within his network, and a bit of travel. On this week’s podcast, we talk about how he planned his gap year, made decisions and found some incredible paid and unpaid local activities that moved him towards his own goals. He shares some of the critical skills he developed and experiences that he made possible. Max was also the recipient of a Canadian Gap Year Association $5,000 bursary.

Max’s experience is not out of the ordinary. He worked for the majority of the year, on a film set, and then took those skills to produce his own film. Once he finished his film, he traveled to Guatemala to complete his gap year. Like Max, most Canadian gappers will spend three quarters of their gap year within Canada and cap off the year with a larger, sometimes international, experience. They are working to earn money and build skills that will put them ahead of their peers.

Max also shares a lot of the same fears that other gappers encounter – a fear that his year would be wasted or that he wouldn’t take full advantage of this time. He was also still worried about feeling left behind while others went off to school and he went off on this unconventional path. Sound familiar?

Once Max had committed to the idea of a gap year, he felt that he actually had time to process what he wanted from his life, how he wanted to move forward rather than rushing off to university because someone else told him he should. He says that many of his friends, once in university, weren’t even sure why they had chosen their program. He saw it as an opportunity to test the waters before committing his time and money to a formal educational program.

With our help, Max took the time to define his goals and really examine what he wanted to walk away with at the end of his gap year. He approached his gap year with intention – he was confident that he had moved himself forward, had fun and grown as a person by the end of the year.

We explored how he could put his interests and skills to use, could earn some money, and stay socially engaged all while identifying key milestones in his gap year that would make sure he was on track and feeling successful on his journey.

Max was able to find employment on a film set, film his own documentary and leave the country on a 40-day adventure to explore social justice issues and different ways of living. Throughout this podcast, Max shares the skills that he gained:

  • Confidence & Self-Reliance – This was the most important skill Max felt he developed. He was taking pride in how he was able to chart his own path forward and be successful by relying on his skills and abilities.

  • Networking – By connecting with people that you find interesting, you can find people to help with answers about the future, advise on a career path, or open future doors for you. Max worked on building his network by starting with the people he and his family knew, then connecting with professionals he encountered all along his journey.

  • Identifying resources that are available to you and then taking advantage of them

  • Learning to be opportunistic – Max learned the importance of having the time and space to take action on new opportunities that come before you. You need to say “yes” more often!

They say hindsight is 20/20, and hopefully Max looking back on his journey is able to give you some advice, especially if a gap year is something you’re considering! If you don’t have time to listen to the whole podcast, here’s what he wants you to know:

  • Take your time, don’t rush – the end of grade 12 can be a fast moving, anxious time and sometimes, slowing down will give you more time to think clearly about your future and what you want to get out of life

  • Think about what will be best for you. University is always going to be there. Take the time to reflect on where you are and where you want to be, not where you think you should be. Think about what would make me happy right no

  • You will only get out of it what you put into it. It takes energy, effort and time to plan a purposeful gap year, but without taking that time, you could be living out your fear of wasting this opportunity.

If you are ready to start to plan your gap year, we are here to help. We have a 4-week gap year planning course available to make sure that you take Max’s advice and get access to the tools that CanGap has. You’ll save you time and money while planning AND help to set yourself up for a purposeful year. We know how to design a year that will make you excited, curious and ready to take on your gap year, even with the current environment as a result of COVID-19. I hope you will join me in the course!

Spring 2020 BONUS: We are offering free Explore, Dream & Design Your Gap Year workshops. Come out to learn what you should be considering when planning a gap year to remember – even in COVID-times!

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