There are various reasons for wanting to take time out. It might simply be that you want to take time out after 3-5 years of study before entering work over the long-term. This could simply be to see more of the world along the lines of a gap-year or to give you more time to plan what you want to do in the longer term. It might also be to give you the opportunity to put enough money together to enable you to study a further course or to pick up some skills or experience through short, part-time or casual jobs in order to enhance your prospects of getting into a particular career area or postgraduate course.
In addition to taking time out after graduating, some students, through choice or necessity, take time out during their studies. In either case, you will need to devote time and energy to researching and deciding on your options, including how what would fit in best with your career plans. And don't forget you can get assistance from the Careers Service.
A useful overview of taking a time out can be found on the Prospects website.
Often students or graduates worry about how prospective employers might view their time out but generally they will look upon it favourably if there is a sound rationale behind it and it enables you to develop skills and qualities that would benefit you in the job e.g. independence, cultural awareness, people skills.
Targetjobs has a good section on how best to sell the skills gained from a year out to employers
Things to consider
Depending on the area you wish to go on and work or study in and the amount of time you are taking out, you may need to consider if your knowledge and technical skills could become obsolete or stale e.g. in IT.
Another factor you may need to consider if you are thinking of entering work after your time out, is that many of the larger graduate recruiters follow a traditional annual recruitment cycle whereby they would interview shortlisted candidates before and after Christmas and hold assessment centres before Easter. It pays to identify whether this is going to impact your particular career choices and plan accordingly. Some companies may let you defer your starting date with them if you can secure an offer before you take time out.
Internships and placements
Internships can provide you with a vehicle to gain valuable experience and enhance the skills employers look for. For some courses and careers, such as social work and psychology, gaining pre-entry experience is s pretty much a pre-requisite. Alternatively it could be that you want to try out a particular career area or industry before deciding whether to enter it on a longer term basis. Bear in mind that competition for places can often be more competitive than for permanent positions as demand outstrips supply.
Most internships are targeted at penultimate year students but there are a number for recent graduates e.g. Scot Grad.
Casual and voluntary work
It may be that you need to work soon after graduating in order to pay off debts or save for a further course or travel in which case casual work is generally the most available. Much as with internships, casual jobs can also be a useful or the main way of building up the relevant experience that can be required for certain jobs or courses e.g. social work, psychology.
Volunteering provides another way of gaining relevant experience and skills either tin the UK or abroad.
Time out abroad
This could be include a combination of travel and casual jobs or a more formal programme such as the JET programme teaching English in Japan and TWIN. Some countries such as Australia and New Zealand offer visas which enable students to combine work and travel.
You will need to start planning early if you are thinking of spending your year out abroad and decide how you are going to raise the fund to pay for it e.g. working before you go or during. Carefully research your eligibility to work in your preferred countries and bear in mind that work tends to be more readily available in developed countries such as the USA, Canada Australia etc. Further details of work permits, vacancies and job hunting can be found at the following sites: