The idea of a sabbatical is something that people in a few professions will be offered from time to time, but do they really work? Why would you ever take one? And are they just a glorified gap year? For the answers to all of the above and more, read on…
What’s a Sabbatical?
A sabbatical is a period of time away from the status quo, typically a year, that will be offered to more senior staff in certain professions. Academics will often take one at some point during their careers so that they can experience living and working at a different institution. Sound appealing?
What’s the Point?
The idea is that by working somewhere else with different people your mind will become more fertile as you’re exposed to new ideas and ways of doing things. In jobs where you have to rely on your creativity and imagination this can be particularly important because it ensures that you don’t feel like you’re going stale.
By going in search of new ideas you may not even decide to copy or emulate the specific ideas you encounter. Lots of people find that they want to start reimagining new ways of doing things after their sabbatical is over purely because they’ve seen how arbitrary a lot of the processes and structures they have in place are.
This can be a real eye opener and is a great way to freshen things up so that you’re always pushing forwards and never resting on your laurels.
Should You Take One?
This very much depends on whether you’re likely to be offered one in the first place! They aren’t something that lend themselves to the goals of every company, but the first thing you can do is voice an interest. You may find that whilst a year someplace else will never be on the cards, you could put yourself on the shortlist of candidates to take part in a short term job swap with a different branch.
If you’re the type of person who loves to find out why you’re doing what you’re doing and are always keeping an open mind about new ways to do things then this could be just what you’ve been looking for.
How Can You Make the Most of the Opportunity
The first thing you want to ensure is that you can make a productive contribution. Being a passenger and just watching people go about their work gets boring very quickly, and it won’t allow you to get all that much out of an amazing opportunity.
Reading up a little bit about where you’re going is always a great place to start your preparation. You should also clarify what you’ll be doing in your own mind. This will allow you to approach your temporary position with confidence and enthusiasm as you’ll feel like a valued member of the team.
Now that you know the basics of the exciting world of sabbaticals all you need to do is decide if they’re for you, and then chase down every opportunity!