Travel is a wonderful way to learn about the world, but did you know your working holiday or gap year could also benefit your career? It doesn’t matter if you’re skiing in Switzerland or bartending in Britain, travel can really help your career take flight.
There are many direct and indirect ways travel can add to your CV. At the very least it’ll give you some life experience and a few interesting stories to tell, and can help you bond with your interviewer or future workmates. If you plan well, it could also be your ticket to a more international lifestyle.
Worldwide work experience
If you’re thinking of doing some work experience, consider doing it abroad. You probably already know all the career benefits associated with gaining work experience, so why not add a bit of flavour into the mix by doing it overseas? In addition to attaining on the job skills and experience, you’ll also get to live like a local and meet local people, which is a different way to travel compared to package tours and backpacker hostels.
Don’t forget to sort out your visas and your budget before you go. If the role is unpaid, you’ll need to figure out a budget that will let you live on your savings, or a loan. Ask the host organisation to help you out; an employee may be happy to billet you, for example. If the role is paid, you’ll still need to find accommodation, which may require a down payment like a bond.
There are a number of internship agencies that match candidates to placements and handle all the paperwork, but you could also try approaching the Australian office of a multinational organisation to see if there are any opportunities in its overseas offices. If you’re under 30, also look into the Federal Government’s Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development Program, where you receive a living allowance while working in a developing country.
Volunteer projects give back
Don’t think that your travel needs to be work-related to help your career. Even if you are conserving turtles in Thailand, the experience can provide you with a number of valuable skills, skills that you can certainly put on you resume or mention in an interview.
Firstly, it marks you as a charitable person who is not afraid of hard work. Secondly, there are a number of skills you can demonstrate on a project that you may not have had the chance to show in previous jobs. Think about qualities such as leadership, decision-making, problem solving, collaboration, teamwork and presentation—did your role on the project involve any of those? Don’t forget to highlight them!
You can find overseas volunteer programs through travel providers, not-for-profit organisations and the government’s Australian Volunteers International. Projects range from a few days to few years; be sure to select something you think you’ll enjoy rather than for the skills alone.
Bridging the gap year
If your style of working holiday is less directly related to what you want to do in your career and you’d rather do a little bartending then some partying, don’t feel the need to skate over this in your CV or in an interview. Iterant work can also give you experience and skills, whether it’s relationship building, organising (work around your party time) or showing your ability to learn on the job (or a series of jobs).
Travel can be an eye opening experience from a cultural perspective, but don’t forget it can also be a door-opening experience for your career. Make sure you make the most of that open door and step into another world when you can.
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