Do you want to see the world before starting a job but you are worried about developing your career?
Why not do both?
I was very lucky in that I had the opportunity to be able to go travelling after leaving school. One of the biggest regrets that people have in later-life is not gaining the life-experiences that living on the road in the far reaches of the world and meeting different people from all corners of the globe offer you.
One thing that developing a career has taught me is that there is no rest-bite, In order to be successful and career-driven you must be committed and often going travelling for 6 - 12 months does not fit in the career equation.
HOWEVER….the experiences learnt and developed whilst travelling before going into working-life has certainly contributed to not only who I am as a person, but ultimately my employability and successful career
Before you take the plunge I have brought you my 6 reasons why travelling made more employable
1) Building confidence and standing by your decisions
So like i did, you’ve got your A-Levels/Degree and you’re not 100% sure on your next move. Do you enter the working-world now? Do you continue your studies into higher education? Or…..do you put all of that on hold and go travelling around the world for 12 months?
Having to make life-changing decisions like this is nearly impossible to make rationally at such a young and inexperienced age. However, the thinking process behind these life changing decisions makes you much more adept at rational-thinking when you have career choices to make.
The average person will work for 40 years before thinking about retirement and during this time you will move careers, move cities or even countries. Having the confidence and state-of-mind to entertain this higher-level of thinking prepares you for life’s challenges.
Whilst travelling there will undoubtedly be a point in time where you HAVE to work to survive (or for a visa extension!).
Having that grumbling stomach and not knowing where that next full meal will come from is an all too real situation whilst travelling to the fullest. Although this is only temporary until your flight home, for those few months where there is a need to work to survive this lays the foundations for your future as this feeling is something that we seldom experience when the bank of mum and dad is there to bail you out or you can nip across the road to kip on your mates sofa in times of need.
Developing that work ethic and appetite to succeed is something you never forget and ultimately moulds you for your future challenges.
The total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety last year was 488,000 cases or 1510 per 100,000 workers.
Now I’m not saying that by travelling you will never get stressed at work, however, you will be in a lot of stressful situations whilst travelling which will prepare you for some the everyday stresses of working and developing a career.
Whether that’s having your passport stolen in foreign country, losing all means of payments after misplacing your wallet or surviving a 14 hour coach journey with the mother of all hangovers.
Doing all of this 1000’s of miles from home absolutely builds character and mechanisms to deal with stress and the knowledge that whatever situation you’re in, you can overcome it.
4) Understanding different types of people, cultures & building relationships
They always say business is people buying people and this is absolutely true!
Developing and being successful in your career relies on many things coming together over years of hard work, however networking and relationship-building is paramount to the success of your career.
I don’t care what anyone says…empire-building is as much about ‘who you know’ as opposed to; 'what you know’.
A lot of travellers will broaden their horizons on their own and whilst travelling on your own offers you endless perspective and insight….meeting new people and building relationships are the fundamentals to having the best time travelling.
Rocking up to a hostel dorm with 30 people in there and striking up a conversation with someone you’ve never met can be nerve-racking.
Developing the skills to communicate with people who have little understanding of your own language means you need to adapt your approach to suit the person you are talking to and Being able to adapt to different countries cultures and beliefs is one of the more immediate thing you will learn in your first month away.
These skills are so important when developing a career and will absolutely benefit you when building working relationships and striking engaging conversations with prospective clients. You will be more understanding and really hear what people are saying when they are talking instead of waiting for your turn to talk like so many of us do.
5) Great conversation starter at the beggining of an interview
Now I’ve experienced this from both sides of the fence and trust me it does work. First of all from the perspective of an interviewee…by demonstrating all the aforementioned traits you have developed whilst travelling and the destinations you’ve visited it illustrates your maturity and invaluable life experiences which will certainly put you above the competition.
This serves purely to bolster your argument for being employable, which leads me on to the other perspective as an interviewer.
When recruiting staff i always go through a candidates CV with a fine tooth comb and a discussion around certain points will serve as the initial part of the interview. Highlighting to a prospective recruiter that you have a strong work-ethic, are a great communicator, problem-solver, have a good ability to network effectively, are all music to an interviewers ears.
6) Life experience and resilience
This in my opinion is the most important.
Going travelling absolutely enhances your life experiences – period, whether it’s travelling to another city or travelling to the ends of the earth. The process of organising your life and making sure you survive are key traits that will offer immeasurable life experience. All of the aforementioned skill sets gear you towards this final attribute that is simply not obtainable unless you throw yourself in the deep-end and experience what life and the world has to offer.
One of the most crucial skills you will need for the early part of your career is resilience and you will need it by the boat load! Having to constantly perform in uncertain circumstances with a lack of knowledge over long periods of time causes stress and ultimately wears you down to the point of underperformance which can hinder your progression.
The pressures of traveling and the numerous situations you will find yourself in will grow your physical and emotional resilience which will serve you no end when you join the workforce….that last minute change to the business plan will seem a lot smaller than the time you only just made your flight to your next destination in the dying seconds!
Now for all I have just said about the life lessons travelling teaches you this does not mean it is the only way you can go after education. Ultimately you will do what is right for you and your circumstances but one of the things I would explore you to take away from this blog would be that just because you have or are going travelling, it does not count you out of the race from people who rush into the working world and if you have just arrived home and looking at how you can constructively describe your experiences to a future employer then hopefully the above will give you some clarity of the skills you will have learnt and how to apply them to today’s modern business environment.