Eight Ways Travel Experience Could Make You More Employable!
According to David Chapman, Director General for the World Youth Student and Educational Travel Confederation, young travellers today want more than ever to enrich themselves with cultural experiences, to meet local people and to improve their employability when they return home.
Young travellers now represent 20% of the world’s international tourism – a trend which has given rise to a variety of opportunities to travel, study and volunteer abroad. These opportunities provide students with valuable life experiences and skills, which many employers now recognise the value of.
Having spent my summer interailing, here are my eight reasons why all students should travel.
- Learning new languages: Even if this is just hello, thank you or can I have a beer please?, it can come in handy later in life, especially in an increasingly globalised business world.
- Meeting people from different cultures: You never know who you’re going to sit next to on a train or sleep next to in a dorm room – it could be a retired school teacher from Japan, who wants to practise their English or a twenty-something American, who needs your help pronouncing ‘Champs-Élysées’. As the world gets smaller almost all jobs require you to work with people from different cultures. Living amongst these people, talking with them and learning their ways of life gives you a huge advantage at being able to deal with them successfully from a work point of view.
- Learning things about yourself: A bit of a cliché I know, but you genuinely discover a lot more about yourself when you’re put into a completely foreign environment. Once you’ve got yourself from a tiny town in the Italian Alps to Venice using two buses and three trains with a huge backpack, then you feel like can do anything. That kind of confidence can be attractive to employers.
- Communication: Suddenly, when you’re travelling, communicating is almost equivalent to survival. Being able to communicate with other people from different walks of life, cultures and languages is such an important skill in any place of work. When you’re travelling you practise this daily as you ask for directions, check in at a hostel or order a meal.
- Negotiation: Bartering at a market, convincing a taxi driver to take you exactly where you want to go, talking your way out of a tricky situation – negotiating is a regular part of travelling life and it’s such a vital skill to develop. I was a hopeless negotiator when it came to money before I went travelling. Now I’m able to stand up for myself. Employers will love this!
- Self-sufficiency and independence: For many of us, a long-term trip is the first time when we really have to rely on ourselves. It may be dealing with a medical emergency in a country where you don’t speak the language, deciding how to deal with a cancelled flight or just simply determining where you’re actually going to head to next. Recognising and improving your capacity for self-reliance will prepare you for every part of your future.
- Problem-solving: So you’re in the middle of Budapest with a 20kg backpack digging into your shoulders and you have to find a hostel for the night, what do you do? Now it’s unlikely that an interviewer will ask that question, but if you can give an example of when you’ve had to solve a problem such as that one, they will definitely be impressed.
- Budgeting: An ability to stick to a budget doesn’t just demonstrate arithmetic skills; it also demonstrates a great deal of discipline and self-control, another attribute which employers look for in potential candidates.
Travelling isn’t just an opportunity to see, do and discover new things – it’s a credible life experience, which can help you in all aspects of your graduate life, even the job market. It would be a mistake to graduate without at least considering travelling.