I just had an inspiring conversation with Tausha Cowan, the founder of The Globe Getter and author of the popular post, I Did Not Quit My Job to Travel the World. We talked about our own experiences overseas, and also about the common question we hear from young professionals: Do I have to quit my job to get international experience?
No, you don't have to quit. In fact, maybe you can get your boss to sponsor it.
The number of people quitting their job every month is pretty astounding -- over 2.5 million people per month in the USA alone according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. BBC even has a column "How I quit my job to travel" showing how millennials have made major life changes in the pursuit of passion and growth.
While many do it to start working on their bucket list, many more are doing it for the purpose of developing their skills and expanding their network. Research from Gallup shows that 32 percent do it for career advancement and growth opportunities. Complimentary findings from Deloitte's Bersin Leadership institute show that millennials are especially keen in developing "inclusive leadership" skills, and are going overseas to do just that.
New experiences help people become better at innovating, communicating, problem-solving, and working with others - vital skills for anybody interested in getting ahead. Whether you want to switch careers, get a promotion, or change industries, hiring managers are looking for people with relevant skills that can be gained and demonstrated by going overseas.
The more intentional your overseas experience is, the more it will help you out. As an example, if you want to move into the nonprofit sector, then going overseas for an international service learning experience with a nonprofit will help you build your profile. Or if you are thinking about moving from a big corporation to a startup, going Experteering with a startup overseas might help you see what it's really like to work in a startup. Or, if you are looking to move from an individual contributor role into a management position, look for a one to two week course in leadership, emotional intelligence, or other related soft skills overseas.
There are plenty of articles about how to reflect travel on your resume, and we recently published research on The Huffington Post showing how international volunteer experience can help people find and earn their dream job.
In our work at MovingWorlds, we continue to see that you don't need to quit your job to get experience in other industries. Just as people take evening or online courses to learn additional skills beyond their day job, you can take a similar approach to getting your international exposure.
Here are just a few ways to get the international experience you've dreamed of, and how to structure it in a way that helps you reach your goals.
As Tausha shared on her blog, if you plan ahead, combine vacation days with paid holidays, and look into flexible work arrangements, you can really maximize the number of travel days you get in one year. As an example, for those of you in the U.S., if you add a couple days around July 4, Thanksgiving, New Years, and/or Christmas, then you can get 3 days of vacation for the price of one, easily turning just one or two vacation days into one week of overseas travel.
You should set an intention with your travel. It might be to learn a new geography, develop a new skill, refine a new language, or gain exposure to a new way of doing things.
Regardless of what it is, write it down, put it in a visible place and tell a couple friends. The simple act of writing it down is proven to increase the chance you'll complete it.
If you're trying to get ahead in your job or switch careers, the more you know, the better chance you'll have.
It's hard to stick to online courses after a long day of work, but if you're doing it to supplement your trip, you'll find it's much easier have the motivation to stick with it. Finding a learning buddy will help, too
As soon as you book your plane ticket, give yourself some homework to complete before you takeoff. Maybe it's reading books and articles that will make you a better global citizen, working through the TEDTalk MBA, or using Rosetta Stone to finally learn that new language.
Regardless of what you end up doing, documenting your trip with pictures and journal entries will help you better remember your experience.
Even if you never show it to anyone else, the act of documenting forces reflection, which is proven to cement the things you learn (and also make you happier)
This might sound excessive or unnecessary at first, but I promise you, it's one of the best things you can do. Find someone with international experience and ask them to help you plan a trip and use it to achieve your goals.
This person can help you think about some of the nuances related to international experiences - like dealing with cultural differences or help you solve some of the challenges you encounter. If nothing else, having a partner in crime will increase the chance you actually take a trip.
Going overseas can do more for you than help you relax. Planned properly, it can help you get ahead in career and in life. Don't be discouraged by the time and cost needed to travel - if you approach it the right way you'll find creative solutions to get overseas and have a meaningful experience.