The travel bug is very easy to catch. Once you start exploring all the world has to offer, chances are you won’t want to stop. But even when you’re on a flour-white beach in 40-degree heat with your t-shirt stuck to your back having the best time ever, niggling thoughts about what to do when you’re back home, will probably enter you mind. It’s only natural that at some point, despite all the fun, you’ll wonder if travel can help your career or hinder it. Here are seven reasons why it’s most definitely the former…
1. If you work abroad, you’ll have a great skillset
Travel can help your career in so many ways when you combine it with work. Whether that’s an internship, work placement, year in industry, or you’re working remotely abroad, by the time you come back, you’ll be in possession of a pretty awesome set of experiences and skills that other candidates won’t have. That’s because whenever you step outside of your normal place or country to work elsewhere, you widen your skill-set.
It may be that you learn how to professionally interact with people from other cultures, uncover the subtle nuances of verbal communication in other languages, or find out how to structure a CV with a foreign language. You might even learn another language entirely, or pick up skills around different types of technology not yet available in your home country. The Muse reports that you may also learn “to accept and appreciate cultural differences” and develop “an unparalleled awareness and understanding of people who are different than you.” And in a globalised economy, all of this stuff is all increasingly important.
2. You can work out what you want to do
For most people, the pressures of academic and then work life are intense and fairly sequential. Just taking time out to stop and re-evaluate things by heading abroad to see the world or work somewhere new, can massively help with perspective. Travel can help your career because sometimes, stepping away from the norm (i.e. being around friends and family), allows you to see things more clearly. If you were headed in a direction back home that you didn’t want, a break away from things can afford you greater mental clarity. So when you get back, you’re even more sure what kind of decisions you want to make for yourself and your life ahead.
3. It teaches you how to bounce back from failure
No matter what you do when you travel, whether it’s work, volunteering or total hedonism, chances are you’ll have had to deal with a few set-backs along the way. Travel ain’t all plain-sailing you know. And even though there are loads of ways to make it cost effective, and connect with others, being abroad will force you to navigate a whole load of tricky situations that you probably wouldn’t deal with back home. But that’s part of the fun, right?
AJ Agrawal, CEO of Alumnify, tells inc.com travel can help your career as it equips you with the kind of resilience you’ll need for the world of business and entrepreneurship when you’re back. He lists “getting lost or stranded, missed flights, sickness (especially from food poisoning), injuries, stolen wallets, and so much more” as just a few tough situations you might find yourself in, noting that “the business environment might not be as immediately threatening as travel, but being very creative around entrepreneurial problems – just as you’d necessarily be around travel problems – is the only way to survive in the harsh and competitive business world. You need to let your creative problem-solving spirit guide you. That’s the way to the top.”
4. Travel gives you a global network
A network of people all over the world is one thing you can’t always get from staying put in your own country. And this network can be invaluable when you return home and want to start work. Travel can help your career as it leaves you with lasting friendships that could possibly turn into business relationships.
Imagine you want to start your own tech company after a trip away. You’ve been to a country where you know you could outsource tasks easily – you can call up your old friend and ask him if he knows of people that want to work with you. It’s easier to make contacts, to think globally, to challenge inefficient ways of doing things back home. All because you’ve been abroad. Travel gives you ideas that put you a cut above your colleagues and competitors.
5. Travel helps you give back
There are loads of opportunities to make a difference when you travel. Working with charities shows dedication, compassion, and commitment and we haven’t heard many employers say that they don’t find those to be very appealing qualities in candidates. Choose something you find interesting and gain experience, contacts and probably a great reference for your next role, for university applications or for the future. Check out NCVO, GVI or just google ‘volunteer abroad’ and see what you can find.
6. Solo travel makes you independent
If you’re a solo wanderer, then hats off to you; it’s super brave. Travelling by yourself suggests you have courage, drive, ambition and initiative. And when it comes to describing your adventures, setbacks and achievements to potential employers, you’re going to look super independent and very well adapted to deal with stress and the hard tasks of the workplace.
7. It makes you look mature and reliable
Ok, hear us out on this one. Employers are probably going to ask you what you did with all your time off if you’ve had a particularly long career break. Some people may have worked or volunteered, but for others, travel is a chance to let their hair down and go wild for a few months, with nothing but backpacks, bikinis and Bacardi cocktails to worry about.
Travel can help your career if you want it to, but a lot of the time, it’s purely for fun. If your globe-trotting was the most influential period of your life, but you did absolutely nothing except chill-out and relax, why not be (relatively) honest with employers when you return and admit to that? Chances are, they’ll respect your honesty and take your word for it if you say that you’ve got everything out of your system.
You’ve seen the world and are totally ready to work now. Oh and you’re super-skilled and reliable because of it. Sorted.
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