Traveling with Your Career
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Here's something that's bothered me for a long time. As a travel writer, I often run into the pervasive myth that travel has to be bad for your career. It's fun, sure, but a beach isn't an office and a sarong isn't a suit; smart people, by extension, keep their heads down and spend as little time away as possible.
I had this debate with a career counselor once while I was still in school. Although I wanted to discuss alternative careers to a traditional law firm, she was having none of it. Get a real job, she told me, and save the passport for your vacations.
This couldn't be more wrong. Travel doesn't have to be bad for your career. In fact, with a little forethought, some time abroad can be down right good for it. For example...
1. Learn a Language
"Wherever you are, try to speak the language," says Simon Shields, a Canadian lawyer who five years ago moved his entire practice online so he could travel the world. "No matter how abominably you screw it up. Even if they laugh they will appreciate it and it will break the ice. Then they will speak to you in passable English, and correct you whenever you try their language again. Voilà: instant friend and patron."
If you're going to be in one country for a while, why not learn how to order coffee like a local? With everyone speaking the same (and very foreign) language, you'll pick it up a lot faster than by just going to classes back home and much more usefully too.
Check a nearby university, or ask around with the local expat community. If nothing else, pick up a few online courses before you leave. (Based on personal experience, this writer strongly recommends Rosetta Stone.) However you do it, coming back with the basics under your belt will both add an impressive line to your resume and show that you didn't spend your time overseas just getting drunk with Australian backpackers.
Plus, it's a lot of fun.
2. Use the Time for Scouting
You know what's actually worse than having a job you hate? Living in a place you can't stand. You get to leave your job at some point during the day, but you're stuck in that hometown no matter what.
Travel can be a fantastic opportunity to prevent that.
For anyone making a change in his career or location, taking some time to scout a new potential home can be a fantastic opportunity. You can use some vacation time to do this, or take a little longer. Get to know the feel of a place before you move there.