Ten Ways International Travel Can Benefit Your Career

 Guest Blogger, Camaro West (Outreach Director, 2012-2013)

It seems like opportunities to travel, volunteer or intern abroad are everywhere.  It’s easy to see why when you consider the benefits of international travel experiences are more than vacation; the opportunity to leave your home and see another part of the world can offer so much to young people and for many, it is a life changer.

The appeal of travel often lies in learning about a new place, experiencing the culture, the food or just the idea of getting away.  There is no doubt that the personal benefits of travel are plenty, but there is also a world of good that travel can do for your career that is often ignored.

It’s easy to think that the professional benefits of travel experience are limited to certain degrees or career paths.  And while international travel experience might be necessary for some careers, it is beneficial to all.

Having international experience on your resume puts you ahead of the competition and here’s why:

  1. Skills.  You can write them on your resume or you can show them.  Travel abroad shows that you take initiative, are adaptable and aren’t afraid to leave your comfort zone.
  2. Discover new areas of study or work.  I went to Guatemala to learn Spanish; I came back with a curiosity about Voluntourism, which I then wrote my MA thesis on, and now work for an organization that sends volunteers to developing countries. You could go abroad with SOS and come back with an entirely new career interest.
  3. Broaden your perspective.  Great ideas and the ability to think critically come from life experiences like travel.
  4. Opportunity for personal growth, self-discovery, and independence – all of which make you a better asset to an organization and helps you to determine what you really want to do with your life.
  5. Ability to communicate across cultures is huge in such a globalized world.  Even if language isn’t a barrier, customs are different everywhere and if you can show that you know how to navigate differences successfully, this is exactly what organizations are looking for in their recent grads.
  6. Language acquisition.  While we’re on the topic of language, why not break down that barrier by learning a new one? No better way to learn than by immersing yourself it in.
  7. Gives you unique examples to pull from during job interviews.  Countless people can talk about the challenges they face on the job in Canada, but being able to discuss the unique challenges you faced during your trip and how you overcame them will set you apart for the rest.
  8. Knowing how your area of interest works in another part of the world.  Whether you’re interested in being a doctor or a teacher, if you have the opportunity to see how it’s done somewhere else, take it and learn from it.
  9. Networking.  When you travel, whether on a short trip like SOS Outreach trips or a longer internship, you build relationships with like-minded driven people.  Having a solid network of peers is invaluable when seeking out career opportunities in the future.
  10. Travel makes you more interesting!  It gives you more to talk about and different ways of seeing things – who doesn’t want to hire interesting people!

If you haven’t considered volunteering internationally, I urge you to. It is an experience that, as outlined above, can be invaluable towards your career pursuits, but most importantly, they push you on a personal level to grow.  At SOS, we take pride in offering students the opportunity to be a part of the support network we offer to our community partners in Latin America.  We also take pride in providing experiences that will encourage personal growth among participants, and we support the process with opportunities for learning and reflection before, during and after their trips.

Whether this post just sparked your interest or you have been thinking about volunteering abroad for a while, we have trips this August that may fit in your budget and life schedule!  

If you would like more information about international travel, volunteering or other opportunities, feel free to send me an email at trips@studentsofferingsupport.ca

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  9. My sister and I are thinking of traveling abroad this summer and I am so glad that I found this article because I did not realize there are so many benefits. The fact that it can provide an opportunity to learn a new language is huge because my sister and I love learning. Also, knowing another language will definitely help with job opportunities in the future because it is a great skill! Plus, I will make sure to learn to communicate across cultures and navigate differences which is a very important skill.

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