“My 5 year plan is focused on building my career.”
“I have nothing to gain by going off on adventures.”
“I’ll do my sightseeing later, after I’ve made it.”
If you had any of those thoughts as you read the headline of this post, you might want to think again.
What if we said to you that travel could actually help you achieve your career goals? Well, it can. Far from being a distraction or a delay in your agenda, travel will give you the behavioral skills employers want, maybe even more than they want technical qualifications.
Planning and Organization
Budgeting, destination research, logistics, accommodations, equipment, safety: you need detail-oriented thinking to ensure that your trip goes well. It’s also exactly what you need to successfully plan and execute a work project.
Unless you’re going solo, you’ll compromise with your travel companions on what to see, where to eat, etc. Communicating and working together, you’ll achieve the common goal of having a great trip. Employers love proven team players!
Flexibility and Adaptability
Travel plans often have to change on the fly, for any number of reasons ranging from illness and transportation breakdowns to fun new ideas provided by a local insider. This experience will stand you in good stead in a fast-paced business environment.
You’ll learn to relate with people from many different backgrounds: the local citizens who drive your taxi and serve your drinks as well as fellow travelers from all over the world. When you’re back home, integrating with work colleagues will be a breeze.
After you’ve had your luggage stolen in a country where you don’t speak the language, handling on-the-job stress will be a piece of cake. Travel also teaches you to stay calm and be patient. Getting angry at a 3-hour wait in the security line will accomplish nothing except to make the situation even more unpleasant.
Familiarity with Other Cultures
Knowing your way around Hong Kong or what is considered good manners in Buenos Aires could give you a big edge if you apply for work at a multi-national company.
Solid Resume Additions
Some types of travel can earn you tangible proof of experience or education, as well as making it more affordable. For example, many countries (as well as the U.S.) offer work-study programs that help subsidize your living expenses. Or think about volunteering with organizations such as the Peace Corps — always impressive on a resume.
Perhaps the most valuable lesson travel offers is seeing the big picture. When you hit a bump in your career, you’ll know it’s only a spot of turbulence; and you have the skills to either ride it out or go around it … onwards and upwards to the life you imagined in your 5 year plan.