Travel Your Career

Travel Your Career

By: Jeannie Chong | Special Projects Assistant
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As the famous Chinese proverb goes, “You will learn more by travelling a thousand miles than by reading a thousand miles of scrolls.”

The world is more connected than ever before. Bloggers love travelling around to explore exotic food, chic fashion, unique cultures, etc. You don’t have to be a travel writer to go travelling; you are free to take a career or semester break to rejuvenate yourself towards a better work-life balance.

Travelling has a lot of benefits: it refreshes your mind, broadens your horizons, provides an opportunity to learn fresh skills, meet new people, and get a valuable time-out from a fast-paced work life.

There are many myths surrounding travelling. Let’s go through the top two most popular and demystify them!

Myth #1: “Travelling costs a lot! I am only a student/recent graduate without much to spend.”

Reality: Travelling doesn’t have to be very expensive! There are many options out there that are cost effective such as hostels, couch surfing, bed and breakfasts, etc. Often in each city there are many free tourist activities you can explore. Even earning money on the road could be an alternative for you (e.g. teaching English abroad – for more ideas, read After Graduation: Tips for Teaching English Abroad). 

Myth #2: “My career and resume would be ruined if I take a gap year or break.”

Reality: False! Instead, it's possible you’ll gain a new skill set during your trip.

Here are some of the benefits and skills that you can gain from travel, and how they apply to your career:

Challenge Yourself

Travelling isn't just about being in a new place. It can also be a great chance to try new things, and thereby discover new skills. You can gain hard skills (i.e. your professional knowledge, research) and soft skills (i.e. people skills, communication).

If your destination is Hawaii or the Caribbean, for example, you will probably enjoy the many corals you discover, but what about the benefit of strengthening your scuba diving skills (not to mention your confidence)? 

Treating your taste buds to a cooking class abroad is an awesome idea. You will learn secret recipes on how to make authentic local food. If you have a sweet tooth (like me), why not take a macaron baking class before heading to the Eiffel Tower?

People love taking pictures for memories during a trip. But it's not just about capturing memories - this may also help fuel your creativity and technical knowledge in photography!

Boost Your Online Presence Through Social Media and Blogging

If you are a social media enthusiast, I am sure you will be tweeting or instagramming along the way, increasing your followers and social networking in the digital media landscape.

Besides, you could run a travel blog and keep it updated so that you share your experiences, look active and engage others. Your writing skills will pay off for your travel writing, as it could become part of your portfolio!

Master a new language

The National Journal states that the ability to speak another language is a tangible skill that can help job-seekers stand out. Opportunities are limited unless you speak the local language; learning a new language during your travel may be more exciting than learning from a dead textbook. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could speak Italian when buying a pistachio gelato?

Make Awesome Global Connections and Add Them on LinkedIn

Your global contacts can be potential employers, business partners, or mentors in the future. Who knows? For more tips on how to kick your LinkedIn presence up a notch, check out my previous blog, LinkedIn Grad Guide.

Gain International Work Experience

Why not work during your trip? You can gain work experience and earn money for your trip – a win-win situation! Employers are pleased to see potential candidates who possess experience interacting with individuals from different cultural backgrounds. Globalized contacts may open more doors than you could ever imagine!

Volunteer Abroad Experience

Have you ever imagined using your trip as an opportunity to volunteer and leave a positive footprint?

If you’re interested in working with kids, why not volunteer at a school or an orphanage?

If you have a medical background, what about Doctors Without Borders?

If you’re an environmentally friendly person, give a helping hand to Greenpeace!

Still not convincing enough? Find out more on the Globe and Mail’s Boost Your Career with Volunteer Work.

Highlights Your Travels as International Experience

Don’t simply put “travelling” on the interest section of your resume without further elaboration. Try to market yourself strategically by turning your travel into a positive experience and highlighting it in a professional manner. For example, you could consider:

  • Extensive international travel background with 8 months of travel to 15 countries including volunteer at UNICEF Cambodia and teach English to homeless children in Calcutta
  • Designed and facilitated a travel blog, Wandering Map, attracting over 800 unique daily visitors  
  • Active social media enthusiast on Social Media (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) with more than 3,000 active followers
  • Possess great video editing skills and created a YouTube Channel, Follow Me Around the World
  • Mastered languages in English, Spanish, French, Cantonese, Arabic and Russian
  • Additional skills: baking, scuba diving, playing keyboard, sign language, InDesign, photography, Movie Maker

Want to learn more? Check out the articles, 12 Career Skills that Travel will Improve, 5 Ways Travelling can Boost Your Career and How to Represent Travel on Your Resume.

“Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.Gustave Flaubert.  

Still thinking to go or not? Just go! My next destination would be the awe-inspiring beauty of the Taj Mahal, what about you? 

Jeannie ChongJeannie Chong is a Special Projects Assistant with SFU Career Services, and a fourth year student studying communications and publishing. Jeannie also volunteers at a radio station, spends time doing crafts and Chinese calligraphy, and loves to indulge her sweet tooth.

Lead image: creative-commons licensed photo by Ivan McClellan on Flickr. 

Posted on June 26, 2013