Travelling for students can go a number of ways. You could be one of those people who wears a puka shell necklace the entire time you’re abroad, or receive a tattoo in Thailand that means strength. Or you could completely confuse what you think travelling is with spring break. The latter usually leads the “traveller” to remember nothing but having a fake blonde girl in Miami take a rum shot out of their belly button. But if you want real experience, the kind where you learn something about yourself and the cultures of the world, you may want to read this. After all, it may just get you that job you’ve always wanted. But first, back away from the hemp key chain.
With less than a month until exams students may be gearing up to not only let loose into the summer but to travel. And before you start thinking of where you would want to go, how much it would cost, weather you would stay with friends abroad or in a hostel, let’s focus on that job you could get after travelling and why you should start travelling as a student.
“There’s no time that’s a bad time to travel but the nice thing about being a student is that you have, which is not always the case but often, students have less responsibility, maybe they don’t yet have a family or mortgage or some of the things that tie you down later in life.” says Kevin Smith, the tourism management program director at Humber College Lakeshore.
Students should start as soon as they can, whether it is between years or after graduation there is no better time to start travelling than when you are young. Usually that time in your twenties where marriage is not yet thought of, mortgages are not yet an issue and there are no children to look after. As for that tuition lingering for most students, well, travelling might just be a benefit to getting that job you want after school. The research paper International Experience and Graduate Employability by Joanna Elizabeth Crossman and Marilyn Clarke says,
“International experience reportedly impacts upon cognition, learning, cultural sensitivity, personal and professional development and employability.”
As employers may increasingly look for students who have traveled when hiring it is not always specifically geared to international companies who may want you to have specific knowledge of their clientele. Instead travelling shows that you have a breadth of other qualities to go along with that.
“In terms of employment a lot of employers now will look down the resume and see if someone has international experience,” says Smith. “It kind of just shows resilience, that you’re able to take risks and a lot of characteristics that employers are looking for these days.”
You might just find when you get back from your ventures that that job you’ve been applying for is only now taking you more seriously, why? Because you can add life experience to your resume, which more often than not seems to be a deciding factor among employers.
“Exposure to other cultures for sure, not vacationing but travelling, things like backpacking and so on,” says Kelly Marshall, the assistant team leader at Flight Centre. “I personally don’t think employers would be looking for languages but more so just the exposure and experience, that better understanding of the world you come away with.”
As for that experience and understanding one comes away with after travelling, you can expect to come back with a new outlook on life and yourself. One sure fire way to gain confidence is to put yourself out there, to sink or swim, and if you’re swimming where you otherwise thought you wouldn’t be able to, it goes to show you what else you might be able to accomplish.
“When I backpacked around Europe I was 22 and then I was home for 4 months and then I moved to Australia for a year. And in that year and a half between leaving to go to Europe and coming home from Australia, that almost 2 years, I matured more than I have probably in 5 five years of living at home and going to school.” says Liane Meyerink, travel blogger for her website The Irie Explorer.
Meyerink is a journalism graduate from Sheridan College and has travelled across 14 countries in Europe as well as having lived a year in Australia. After returning home to Dundas, Ontario, she recounts her experiences and the lessons she learned when abroad.
“It made me a lot more independent and it gave me a lot more confidence in myself because there are inevitably times when you’re on the road and when you’re travelling when things are going to go wrong and you have to figure them out,” says Meyerink. “And you have to figure them out by yourself because there’s no one around to do it for you, you have to have the resilience to figure things out on your own and to bounce back from obstacles. It gave me that confidence because no matter what happened in life, I could figure it out.”
And it’s just that bouncing back that employers might be looking for when you return. Adaptability says Kevin Smith, might just be that missing link when employers are scanning your resume.
“One of the big things these days in a company is weather or not you’re adaptable as a potential employee, to go with change or feel comfortable when change happens. The fact that you’ve lived or travelled extensively abroad shows you have the ability to adapt really well,” says Smith. “Also a lot of companies are international and if you’ve got experience in China and there’s any contact with Chinese consumers or clients it’s obviously a huge bonus.”
So before you start applying to your dream job straight out of school, try taking off for a few months. Go where you’ve always wanted to go, even if you just completed first year, it’s never too soon or too late to push yourself into the world and get that life experience. After all it may just lead you into the career you’ve always wanted and if not, well at least you’ll have something to talk about in the interview.