DEAR HARRIETTE: I wanted to know your perspective on a gap year, or "summer of fun," when a student takes a year or a summer to relax before he or she starts a full-time job in the real world. I am about to graduate college and hope to secure a job after graduation. Recently, I have been thinking I should take the summer to hang out, travel and spend time with my family and friends. A lot of my friends plan on doing this, so I know it’s common, but I’m not sure if it is the best move. As a businesswoman, what is your take on going straight to work? -- Summer of Work or Fun?, Dallas
DEAR SUMMER OF WORK OR FUN?: Theoretically, I like the idea of a summer of fun. Practically, I have very different thoughts. There are thousands of college graduates who begin to look for work even before senior year ends. Most jobs are highly competitive, and even though the economy seems to be improving, young people continue to have difficulty finding work immediately upon graduation. Assess how long you can afford to live without having a job. If your parents are willing to support you during your time off and the period it takes you to find a job, that time of fun and exploration could be worth it, as it also can give you fresh eyes with which to consider your future. If you cannot afford it, look for work now and take a vacation when you earn time off.