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So you’ve travelled, now what? How to make your time abroad work for your career!

So you’ve travelled, now what? How to make your time abroad work for your career!

Posted on 18/01/2016 by Hallie Kling

travel career

Whether you are travelling for two months or ten years, there will likely come a time when you have to come back home (or wherever you decide to settle!) and look at pursing a steady career. For me that was after 4 wonderful years in London. Although I lived there for so long I never really classified London as the ‘real world’. It was always a parallel reality where long term plans and career goals were never in the equation.

Upon returning home and after the fun few weeks of catching up with friends and family, reality sets in. What’s next? Study again? Back to work full-time? Do I want to jump into a permanent role? Do I just want temp work? Is Administration really for me? Maybe I just want to work in a bar in Byron bay and live like a hippy for the rest of my life? Believe me I over-analysed these questions for weeks at a time.

Then the job search becomes your enemy. Why after all this time off when I’m ready and willing to work I cannot find anything? Soon instead of your days spent lying on the beach drinking cocktails living without a care in the world, it is now spent staring at a computer endlessly refreshing seek in hope your ‘dream job’ will pop up....  more like any job that sounds remotely promising.... or has a pay cheque! I lost count of how many applications I sent off without one single call for an interview. Then depression sets in. Why me? Am I not good enough? Why am I not getting any interviews?

I can happily tell you that with persistence, I did finally get that interview and was lucky enough to score that perfect job! In retrospect and if you’re in this position of recently returning from overseas, all I can say to you is be patient and don’t give up! Enjoy the time you have off. Of course look for roles, send out resumes and be pro-active. But remember good things come to those who are patient. And remember what you want. There is no point sending out a million resumes to jobs that you aren’t really interested in or that you don’t fit the criteria for. This is your life and work is going to be a BIG part of it. It is better to wait and find something that is going to be the right fit then rush into a role that you will just leave after a month. If you need something ASAP, temping is a great way to get some money in without making a long-term commitment.

Once you have secured an interview the next challenge is explaining your experiences abroad. It can be difficult discussing your experiences with people upon your return as you don’t want to talk ‘at’ people as if your new experiences have suddenly made you more worldly and superior. But at the same time you don’t want to downplay your experiences like they haven’t impacted who you are. It is extremely valuable to be able to talk about your travels humbly, honestly and thoughtfully, especially when discussing travel experiences in potential job opportunities.

However you have changed as a person by travelling – let that be an advantage. Potential employers will be impressed with people who have travelled and learnt to be independent over the other side of the world with no friends or family. Make sure to emphasize that you weren’t just off partying away for 12 months but that you were learning life experiences that have made you a stronger person. As well as those experiences of dealing with people all over the world have made you resilient. Even just a simple way to articulate your travels in a positive way is in your diction between the words ‘travel’ and ‘live’. There is a big difference in an interviewer’s mind between an application who has ‘lived’ abroad and an applicant who has ‘travelled’ abroad.  Living in a different country signifies the ability to adapt, to work with different people and to work in a state of ambiguity.

So if you’re interested in exploring - go and travel, see the world, gain experiences and grow your skills – home will be waiting for you upon your return. You will be a better person for it and it may just work out to be the best career move you’ve ever done!