Monday, 9 December 2013

Turn your travels into a career opportunity

Turn your travels into a career opportunity
Whether it’s a summer holiday or gap year, travel can expand your horizons and boost your career prospects. You can have your fun in the sun (or snow) while adding some serious clout to your CV. Here are three ways to take your career to new places.

  1. Work placements and internships

Spending a few months doing work experience may not seem particularly appealing, but what if that work experience was in the Bahamas? Work placements and internships help you get ‘on-the-job’ experience in a supportive environment, and help you find out whether a role or career path is right for you. It’s also a great way to live like a local at your destination.

Internship placement agencies or the Australian branch of a multinational company may be able to help you secure work experience in another country.

  1. Volunteering

Working abroad as a volunteer is another valuable way to give your career a boost. Building houses in Cambodia has little to do with tax, but it shows initiative and a willingness to undertake hard work. Be mindful of the complementary skills this experience offers. Did you show leadership? Did you solve problems? Did this show your ability to collaborate?

Do your research and you’ll find a number of public, private and not-for-profilt organisations offering international volunteer programs, such as Australian Volunteers International. Pick a project that interests you and if it directly adds to the skills you need for your career, all the better.

The government’s Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development Program also provides skilled young Australians with the chance to volunteer in Asia, the Pacific and Africa, so it’s worth checking out whether you’re eligible.

  1. Networking opportunities

You’ll meet a lot of new people when you travel and they will come from all walks of life. Don’t squander the opportunity to have a chat; the HR manager of the company you want to work for could be gazing at the Mona Lisa at that exact same moment.

Be friendly and polite, but also be prepared to leave them alone if they just want to get on with their holiday. Most people are more relaxed when they’re away, though, so you’re likely to gain an insight you wouldn’t otherwise. If you’re really prepared you might even have a contact card on you. Otherwise, it’s all good practice for dealing with a range of different people.

From acquiring international experience for your next role to simply showing a willingness to step outside your comfort zone, directly or indirectly, travel is a great addition to your CV; so don’t forget that what you’ve learnt while away can help your career. If nothing else, it’s a talking point that could help you bond with an interviewer – or your new colleagues.

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