Like many other mid-twenty something recent graduates, I was lost in the decision of “what do I want to do when I grow up?” Career planning has always been a mystery to me. I have never known what I wanted to do (and I still don’t really). And to make it worse, I had no idea how to start answering those questions.
Instead of planning my career, I decided to run away to exotic destinations and forget about all of the “adult decisions”. Those sounded like problems for future Megan to figure out. I’ve found that my decisions are made better abroad. Or maybe it’s just easier to avoid them abroad…
Either way, selling this idea to my parents was tough. I knew I wanted to go on an extended journey that would start with our family trip to Greece, and I started to work out the other details, including a tour of the Middle East and visiting a friend in Nepal. I paid for the trip myself blowing through nearly half of my life savings; but like most children, I still longed for my parent’s blessing on a big decision like this. They argued it was irresponsible to quit my job to go abroad. They objected to the break in work experience that would be on my resume. And they didn’t think I was considering the future in this decision.
I explained to them that I needed some time to think and explore and challenge myself. I wasn’t being stimulated in my cubicle office job in a way that would help my career ambitions, so what was the point of sticking it out. Just to have a place holder on my resume?
I tried to keep my emotions out of it, because it’s easy to get defensive. I was so invested in my international plans that I wasn’t going to let my parents’ oppositions hold me back. I tried to talk them through why I was doing it and how the skills I would learn were actually relevant to my career. Developing flexibility, cross-cultural communication, and creative problem solving are only a few of the many things traveling has taught me. These are valuable skills to potential employers, and can be difficult to teach in an office. This helped ease some of my parents’ complaints.
I hoped by blogging and taking photos, I could create a marketable experience for potential employers. I kept my blog professional but fun. I wrote about my reflections, my experiences and what I learned. I tried to talk to people that seemed interesting, and stayed connected with them through social media. I followed organizations that were doing exciting work abroad, because you never know what might fall into your lap.
Heading into my 3 month trip abroad, I never expected that I would come home with a full-time job waiting for me. But I saw on Greenheart Travel’s Facebook page they were hiring and I applied on a whim. I had dreamed of working for this company for years (literally I stalked their jobs page multiple times per year), but never thought they would consider me while I was out of the country!
But they did, and I went through 6 rounds of interviews via Skype. One was even by candlelight because there was a black out in Nepal. It made them impressed with my adaptability! And sure enough, all the work and photos on my blog made a difference. They asked me about it during the interview, and viewed it as an example of what kind of person I was. I shared my international experiences and Greenheart Travel was excited about my travel capabilities.
In the end, I consider myself lucky. I got offered my dream job on the first day of a 12 day trek through the Himalayas. Like what the what?? I never expected that when I left the US in August. Getting to do what I love for leisure and for work is the ideal. And I honestly don’t believe I could have landed this job without going on my trip abroad. It set me apart, it made me unique and it showed them my social media and blogging skills, something that is very important to my current role in the company. By sharing my blog on my resume, I showed what kind of person and employee I am.
For all of you out there who think its impossible to travel and build your career, take the risk. Go abroad! Because when you can talk about your experiences and skills effectively, they can be the most invaluable part of your resume.
Do you maintain a traveling lifestyle AND manage your career? Share your tips on how you balance below!