I’ve had global experiences my entire life and at this point in my life, people start to wonder why I still choose to live overseas. I have many personal and professional reasons for doing so. Some which make sense to others, and some which do not. My reasons aren’t important. But the reasons YOU choose a particular experience does.
Here are some of the benefits of each type of European experience…
Build Your Profile – Any work experience in your field, even interning, is good. Professional experience in your field is great. International work experience is a huge bonus. Getting hired by a company overseas (or being sent on an international assignment by your current employer) is a great way to beef up your resume. If you’re not in a situation to get sent on assignment/get a job overseas, consider working for free as an intern or volunteer abroad. Many employers (especially start-ups) want to take on interns, but they can’t afford to pay them a salary. Offering your services for free (in return for a LinkedIn endorsement and mentorship, of course) is a great way to get some hands-on experience working overseas.
Start a New Career Path – These days it’s not uncommon to hear of people having two (or more) careers in their lifetime. You can either wait until you’re forced into a new career, or you can strategically transition into a new field beginning with an extended period of time in Europe. You could find opportunities (paid or unpaid) in a new field, network with other travelers or expats who are in your desired field and/or attend a conference. There are so many ways to maximize your time abroad and make it count towards a new career. Thinking strategically about what information and experiences you can get while overseas will help you maximize your time abroad.
Learn a Skill (or Improve One) – One of the ways you can get ready for your new career is to learn a new skill. This could be a language, a trade (i.e., metalwork, hair dresser, etc.) something tech-related (i.e., blogging, web design, etc.) or even something artistic (i.e., writing, painting, cooking). The possibilities are endless. You just have to be creative and open to the possibilities (if you’re stuck, contact me and we’ll have a coaching session to help you design a plan).
Develop Resume-Worthy Skills – Similar to working abroad, there are many benefits to studying abroad. In addition to learning a skill (i.e., language, expertise in your major, etc.), you’re also developing critical skills required for business success. These skills could be flexibility, adaptability and cross-cultural communication. Check out more resume-worthy here.
Networking – Another great advantage of studying abroad is access to professors and professionals for all over the world. You could try and work with one of your professors and learn from the best. You could also get advice from the people in the field (professors and other instructors). Professionals love giving advice to students and recent graduates. They love talking about themselves and sharing their wisdom (I’m also guilty of this and I’m barely in my 30’s!). Leverage your student status and connect with people for informational interviews. Some examples of questions to ask are:
- What does a typical day look like for you?
- What competencies or skills are needed to succeed in this industry/role?
- What is the future like for this industry?
- Is there anyone else that you think I should talk to?
Re-energize – Most people choose to travel abroad to escape ‘real life’ and re-energize. There’s something about soaking up beautiful architecture and delicious food that brings out the best in all of us. This is a great reason to travel…and one of my favorite reasons!
Get Inspired – Sounds obvious, but most people choose to travel because they like it. But more than simply relaxing and seeing some amazing sites, you might find inspiration for your next painting, blog post, or career!
Unintentional Personal Growth – While traveling is all things wonderful, inspirational and delicious, sometimes we actually end up learning a thing or two that changes us in ways we couldn’t have expected. Maybe it’s the Italian airline strike that forces you to change your travel plans less than 24 hours before your scheduled flight (yes, this happened to me) which ends up teaching you not to panic. Or the chaotic process of walking through Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar that teaches you that personal space is a luxury not to be taken for granted. Whatever the experience, there are many things one learns from travel.