Travel. It's something we all aspire to do and an act that continues to spark our curiosities. It's a challenge that everyone should tackle at least once in their lifetime. However as exciting the notion of travel is, it can be difficult to 'take the plunge' and book a plane ticket when our minds are confined to the expectations of life: study, career, save, get married and settle down. The world is an infinite planet with endless sights, stories and smells and there's no doubt that the age old saying "the world is a book and those who don't travel read only one page" is true!
In today's global day and age, employers are much more open to the personality traits, skills and attributes that are attained through overseas travel. You may be afraid that setting off for a year will 'set you back.' Here's how to turn your travel experiences into a career boost for that next interview.
1. Include an Educational, Work or Volunteer Experience in your Itinerary
No matter what country or continent you choose to go to, whether it be Nicaragua or New Zealand, there will always be plenty of opportunities to build your professional experience. As you begin researching your trip, choose one town or city that really intrigues you and pencil in one month of your year abroad to spend in that location. Even if you like to keep your travels plan free, aim to have some sort of volunteer, class or short term job organised before you leave. If venturing to a third world country, look into schools, education facilities and wildlife centres that may offer free accommodation in return for volunteer work. Alternatively, teaching English can be a great way to score yourself not just a free trip, but the ultimate cultural experience. You will also find that many hostels and guesthouses throughout the world offer amazing perks in return for house cleaning, running activities and bar work. If volunteer and paid work is proving difficult to find, consider taking a language or cooking class. All of these experiences will demonstrate to your potential employer that you are confident, eager to learn and compassionate.
2. Volunteer Your Travel Writing or Instagram Skills
Highlight your creative and entrepreneurial spirit by offering to write a guest travel blog or have your Instagram snaps featured by a travel website. It may sound harder than it actually is but travel websites, accommodation chains, travel agencies and local tour operators are ALWAYS looking for new content. You don't need your own website or social media platforms. Contact the travel agent that you booked your trip through, a hostel that you have booked into, a booking website you made a booking with or a local tour that you have booked on to. Email the company with your booking number, a little bit about yourself, why you are excited to go to the destination, stay at the hostel or experience the tour. Offer to write an article on the experience to be featured on the company's website. Chances are - they will say yes! By having some of your photos or an article published, you will demonstrate to your potential employer that you have initiative, drive and an entrepreneurial personality.
3. Keep a Diary of the Lessons you Learnt
Travelling in an unknown country is a challenge within itself and takes a number of employable skills and personality traits to pursue. You will learn about new cultures, history, geography, ways of life, religions and how to overcome obstacles and adapt to new surroundings. You will build a tolerance and understanding of different people and values and attain an ability to make decisions with initiative. Forget the assumption that your year abroad will set you back in the employable world. Your confidence, bravery and organisational skills have played a vital part in your international experience and you will learn lessons that will help you in the grown up career world. Keep a diary of these lessons and do not be afraid to use these as examples during your interview.
4. Use your Contacts
We all know that travelling overseas opens us to a world of new friendships. As we dive head first into the digital age, more and more entrepreneurs and small businesses are working from their laptops whilst jet setting across the globe. It's likely that you will meet travel bloggers, hostel staff, tour guides, bar staff (the list goes on) from across the globe and maybe, from your home town or country. Of course travelling is all about freedom and impulsive adventures, but don't forget to to keep your ears and eyes open to globe trotters that may potentially be able to help your career in the future - you may need to relocate to a new city for a new job in the future - your new found friends will definitely help with the 'settling in' process. You may meet someone that works in your desired industry - they may be able to offer advice or a reference. We all know that networking is a major plus in career advancement - and your overseas travels will open you to a world of new contacts!
5. Don't Be Afraid to Talk About Your Crazy Experiences
Travelling really makes us do things that we never dreamed were possible. Whether it be hiking the 20km+ Tongariro Crossing, Bungy Jumping in Queenstown, jumping out of a perfectly good plane - these are all experiences that showcase your confident and open minded personality and your ability to embrace new challenges and experiences. CVs and job interviews are really beginning to change course and employers are much more open to getting to know about your personality. Don't be afraid to include a quirky sentence of your crazy experiences in your 'About Me' section in your resume and don't be scared to throw it into your interview (where possible).
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