Cheaper travel and social media have made the world a much smaller place. Having run a gap year organisation since 1999, I have noticed that young people and their parents are much more relaxed about international travel and travel in ever increasing numbers.
This is a very good thing for many reasons, most travellers enjoy the adventure and learning about another part of the world. But more importantly, for young travellers at least, it can make them much more employable. A well structured few months abroad learning a language whilst you take on paid or voluntary work can really make your CV stand out. If you can demonstrate an appreciation of other cultures and an international outlook, this is sure to excite most employers. It will also give you a chance to impress at interview. Many interviewers will start with questions on travel or interests and this gives you a chance to enthuse about what you have experienced and learnt on your trip.
A word of warning though, an unproductive few months on a beach or on a conventional back packer trail is unlikely to improve your job chances and may raise questions about why you didn’t or couldn’t challenge yourself a little more.
Cost is what initially puts many young people off travelling. Of course, there is no getting away from the inevitable cost but don’t forget there are many opportunities to have a cost neutral trip or even to come back with some money in your pocket having more than covered your costs.
My organisation, Oyster Worldwide, sends graduates to China for 12 months to English teaching jobs in China where you earn more than enough to live, travel and even save a little. Your flight costs are refunded at the end of your contract and there is no programme fee to Oyster – our costs are covered by the Chinese employers.
If you want a more physical hands-on experience as the antidote to academic work, think about working in the Australian Outback as a farm hand and enjoy real Australia. You do have to pay flights and a programme cost that covers a farm training course – horses, tractors, chainsaws and cows! However we would expect you to break even after 3 months’ work and after that anything you earn will be “profit” to spend seeing Australia.
– Roger Salwey is always happy to give informal advice and is delighted to tell you about any of the exciting paid and voluntary projects that Oyster Worldwide have in 15 destinations. He is looking forward to visiting the University of Kent again on 17 October and hopes you can come along.