Name: Michelle Dittmer
Occupation: Co-Founder of CanGap – The Canadian Gap Year Association
Lifestyle: Lucky-if-I-get-out-of-the-house-without-my-kid’s-snot-on-me mama and professional
What’s a typical day like for you?
My day is bookended by playing and loving on my two wee girls, Kiera (3.5) and Naomi (1.5).
In between, I spend my time working with families and educators to bring about more awareness for purposeful gap years – lots of phone calls, webinars, presentations. And don’t forget e-mails! A great mix of computer and human-to-human work!
What in your life is really important to you?
Besides the obvious “family” answer: never forgetting to be amazed by the world and people around me.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Helping others discover their own passions and fostering their confidence to carve their own paths.
What role does fashion play in your life?
Fashion = function. It’s gotta keep up with me as I tumble on the floor, present in board rooms, and snuggle in on the couch with a tea.
What do you love about shopping at Fresh Collective?
I love to support Canadian designers. It reminds me to slow down, appreciate the gifts I have, and give back by being a conscious consumer of those who are sharing their gifts up through design work.
What do you have that you want to promote?
Listen up moms of teens! SLOW DOWN. There is no rush. Your kid is amazing. They have so many gifts and talents bundled up inside of them, and when we rush around, shuttling them between activities and from high school into post-secondary, so many of those gifts go unwrapped or undiscovered.
I am such a strong advocate for taking a gap year between high school and post-secondary that I built my non-profit around it. If you want to learn more about how we can help prepare your kid for a happier, healthier and more successful adult life, book a call with me. P.S. They will go back to university.
What kind of services and support does CanGap offer young people?
CanGap helps young people and their families make the most out of a gap year. We provide direction and connect them with the resources to make sure they are setting and meeting goals and moving themselves forward.
In the decision-making stage, we provide an online Gap Year Planning Toolkit. Once on a gap year, they can join a gap year community, get access to resources for every stage and earn a gap year certificate such that they can document it on their resume and for university applications.
We even do family coaching to support the whole gang through transition from parenting a teen to a young adult. Book a call to see what the right tool for your family is!
As current head of CanGap, what message do you have for young people getting ready to start their post-secondary journey?
Listen to yourself. You are wise and no one knows you better than YOU.
There are a million reasons to take a gap year: to earn money, to get clarity on what you actually want to study, to explore the world, and to get to understand how it really works, or to spend time taking care of your mental or physical well-being.
You need to be a bit bold to take a gap year because “everyone else” is going to university (HINT: They’re not! Stats show 24% of Canadians take 1 year off). We can take the overwhelm out of your year and give you the tools to make it an EPIC year that your friends will be jealous of!
What are the benefits of taking a year off in early adulthood?
SO MANY! The beauty (and sometimes overwhelming) part of a gap year is that you set your own goals and your own path.
As a whole, gappers come back saying that they are more confident, more independent, have more clarity on what they want to do with their life, and are rested and ready for the next step in the journey.
But you can also earn money, see the world, pick up new hobbies or reconnect with old passions and get to be a human rather than just a student, for a while.
Is there anything else we should know about you?
We are always running events, digital and in-person. Check out where we are going to be and come and join us for a session to learn more!
For all the time you spend looking through university brochures and websites, you should spend at least some time exploring the Gap Year Pathway.
Where can people find you on social media?