So you’ve finished your education and have some spare time on your hands, or maybe you are just on the hunt for the next best thing in your already fabulous life. An exceedingly common fork in the road that many young women find themselves staring at, is the difficult travel-or-work debate.
Many people are under the impression that travelling can actually be dangerous to the dream career they’ve aspired to since day one of college. They tell themselves that it will leave a questionable gap in their resume, or will leave them in the dust behind those who have chosen to get straight to work.
Yet you must ask yourself… Could it actually be possible to have the best of both worlds?
Here are some reasons why including travel experience in your cover letters and interviews may actually have you soaring above your flightless competition.
Why you should get on that plane
Travelling abroad is an example of “real life” experience
You can get as many A-pluses or gold stars in your education as you want, but these primarily exhibit your skills to learn from a classroom or a textbook. As qualified as your 4.0 grade point average may make you, it is only half the puzzle. Knowing that you are courageous enough to try new things, and ambitious enough to fly halfway across the world for a year of your life, sends a strong message about your personality.
Interviewers are likely pretty tired of getting the same answers about how someone has managed to “lead their group to successfully making a tight deadline,” to prove you can work well under stress. While of course you have to still use some examples that are job or industry specific for the position that you are applying for, why not tell them about the time you managed to calmly reroute your train tickets when you found yourself in the wrong foreign country at 3:00 am and didn’t speak the language. Now THAT’S a stressful situation. It also shows your ability to think outside the box, and apply your experiences to a variety of situations.
You care about you
Making the decision to travel for a year is a pretty tough one to make. Some of the decisions and experiences that you choose to have while travelling will also be tough. Employers are typically looking for someone who is going to be a hardworking, devoted and hopefully long-term employee. Having already made these decisions shows your employer that you have put some very serious thought into your life, where you are now, and where you want to go.
Furthermore, being a young women and travelling alone or in a small group can be a terrifying, but also hugely empowering, experience. With every country you conquer and hostel you sleep in, you will gain confidence and meet fascinating new people. What better way to develop your communication and leadership skills than to practice abroad? Employers who are serious about investing in you will be impressed by the fact that you have taken the time to thoughtfully invest in yourself.
You will broaden your network exponentially
Being an extrovert and having excellent people skills are often traits that are described as ‘very hard to teach’. Why not develop these skills by putting yourself in a situation where you are constantly meeting new people, hearing new stories, and telling your own story? Not only does travel experience have a great reputation for pulling people out of their shells (and comfort zones), it helps you empathize with and advise others who are in similar situations. The added bonus to all of this is that during your travels, you will meet people from all over the world – other backpackers in your hostel, local business owners and tour guides who have seen it all. What better way to experience people from diverse cultural backgrounds – and to see how they interact and conduct business – than to see it firsthand. Not only is it a real eye opener, but in today’s globalized world, this far-reaching experience and multi-national networking will very likely come in handy in your business life one day as well.
Apply these skills to your career & blow your employer away
Travelling the world will teach you new skills (and polish old ones!) that will come in handy in your professional life. You will learn things about yourself, and become more confident and experienced in the process. If you can properly articulate, apply and present these skills and experiences to your potential employers, chances are they will be blown away.
All in all, taking some time to travel (whether it is a month or a year) is expensive, bold, and sometimes scary and nerve-wracking.
This being said, I have yet to meet one person who regrets doing it.