November 26, 2018

Gap Year Influence: From 18 yrs old to Mid-career

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Interim alumnus, Jeremy Kroll, talks about ongoing benefits from his 1989 gap year...

The Center for Interim Programs designed a gap year for me in 1989 during the final months of high school...after I had already been accepted to the college of my choice.

I decided (with encouragement from my parents) to explore alternatives to going straight into college.  With hindsight, I realized that I was not prepared to begin, let alone flourish in, college.

Since there were no friends or contacts knowledgeable to consult, we turned to a unique professional, Mr. Cornelius Bull. His firm, The Center for Interim Programs was designed to help individuals and their families look into the future and understand what a 'gap year' would be like and how to assess one's capacity to maximize its potential value.

Bull convinced us to go forward, allaying our primary concerns and the Center set about designing a structure and a program to meet my burgeoning interests: Painting and cooking.  My parents believed that picking up another language was critical and I suspected that they were right.  So, the program that was ultimately designed took me to Florence, Italy.

I lived in Florence for eight months making friends, and living with, Italians and other Europeans- essentially avoiding fellow Americans.  During this period, armed with more self-knowledge and a sharper focus, I reapplied to college.  I wound up at a university that would not have accepted me during my senior year (if on the basis of grades and boards) and began my freshman term one year after my fellow classmates.  I am convinced that it was my time away and the substance of my experience in Italy that swayed the university's selection, and gave me a competitive advantage.

Over the longer term, I have continued to reap the benefits of this formative experience.  Professionally, I owe some of my success to skills learned during my gap year: the ability to inter-relate to others, strong communication and listening skills, and the ability to 'see the bigger picture'.  I have been able to apply these skills in a range of successful business experiences.  

Eighteen years after my gap year, and at the age of 36 I enrolled in a global Executive MBA program (TRIUM).  While I am no longer 18, now with a family of my own and a career, I still feel the urge to grow and expand beyond my current borders...and relish the sense of self-empowerment that I felt after my gap year.  After studying in China, England, France, America and India during the 20 month term I received my MBA (while also continuing to work) in the Fall of 2008.  It was a formative experience that has already begun to pay emotional and financial dividends.  

However, before I embarked on this challenge, I found myself seeking out the Center for Interim Programs and Mr. Bull's daughter, Holly Bull.  She and her colleagues were responsive and helpful without a moment's hesitation- even reminding me that the fee paid in 1989 still covered advice that I received 18 years later.  

The Center for Interim Programs...What an invaluable resource for life!

Jeremy M. Kroll

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