Rhiannon Osborne Tonner is in her final year of UCL studying Natural Sciences. She interned on a month long Start Me Up UX Internship.

Has anyone ever told you that University days are the best days of your life? I’m confident they’ve never taken a year out. 

Taking a gap year before starting my degree was, to-date, the best decision I’ve ever made.

Finishing high school, I was burnt out. I was exhausted from spending years grinding away, working towards my end goal of getting into a good school. There I was, having achieved that goal and I was so exhausted I could barely be excited by the prospect. 

So I took a year out. 

Primarily it gave me a year where I didn’t put pressure on myself. A year to relax and recuperate. It allowed me to breathe. Then when I eventually did start school, I started re-energized with a new drive to take on the challenge.

However my gap year provided me with so much more than just time to relax. It gave me time to gain perspective. 

I volunteered as a laboratory assistant in a research lab. During this time I realized lab-based scientific research wasn’t for me and ended up changing degree subject. A decision which ultimately ended up saving me from four years of a degree I would’ve hated. 

I volunteered in Costa rica, I trekked in Vietnam, skied in New Zealand, dived in Indonesia – I learnt far more on my gap year about the world and about myself than I have done in three years of university combined. 

I learnt how I handle stressful situations, I learnt how to manage a budget, my confidence, independence and communication skills rocketed. When starting university came around, it didn’t faze me. I had done harder. 

I’d got myself around the world by myself, I’d made friends in every country I visited, I had done about five years of growing up in one.  So if you’re concerned that you don’t have the time to take a gap year, that you need to get on with your life. Think about that. How I learnt the most and grew the most I ever have while taking a year out. 

I’m still very passionate about traveling to gain perspective. I just lived abroad for a year in Toronto on an exchange program with the university of Toronto. And I’m now part of the team for Start Me Up.

I joined their internship program last year where I spent one month interning for an app development project working in UX. An area I barely knew existed, let alone even considered working in.

Having done several different programs before, Start Me Up is completely different to anything else I’ve seen out there.

It’s opened my eyes to new career paths and helped me develop new skills in areas of technology and startups – all while based from one of the most lovely places on earth. 

Here’s what Rhiannon got up to…

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