There once was a girl who dreamed of traveling the world and finding a mode of time travel while she was at it.
Once in awhile, this version of myself still enjoys making the occasional appearance. Perhaps it’s because I still fancy myself in love with Scotland; or perhaps it’s because it was what inspired my appetite for travel in the first place.
Either way, I enjoy the reunions whenever they occur.
Does this mean I’ve given up hopes of traveling the world?
Not even close.
Sure, the time travel factor may seem far-fetched, but I’m a hopeless optimist. Just because I may be a different version of the girl I was at fifteen—in love with the fairytale version of work and travel, as opposed to the reality—it only goes to show what an emerging career in the travel industry can teach you. And it is why I’d love to share some advice with you about how to jumpstart YOUR own career combining work and travel.
I’m not much different then any of you other travel-inspired individuals out there, looking to make a difference in the travel industry. I figure it’s this similarity with each other that will validate the tips I have for you. I’m not claiming that my advice is foolproof, and even though I am now working full-time for GoAbroad.com, there is still much for me to learn.
All I suggest is to let my personal experience inspire your own motivation. After all, aren’t you ready to turn your travel career dreams into a reality?
Work and Travel Tip #1 – Utilize Social Media Platforms
Without social media, I wouldn’t be working the job I am today. I wouldn’t be getting to do what I love and feeling as if I do actually make a difference.
By now, most of us are aware of how beneficial social media can be to helping you job hunt. And I’m telling you right now how true this actually is.
Did you know that I met my current boss at GoAbroad through Twitter? What started as an online connection between two people who enjoyed each other’s blogs eventually paved the way to relocating a thousand miles from home for a new job.
With the travel industry in particular, there are SO many connections out there to be made. From the bloggers to the study abroad providers, international education offices and leading online databases like GoAbroad, there are numerous ways for you to be networking.
Start a blog that has a unique angle and let your voice be heard; start tweeting with those who interest you and before you know it, you’ll be inviting a wide range of opportunities to come your way.
Work and Travel Tip #2 -Be Honest About Who YOU Are
It might sound like an overused cliché, but being honest about yourself is never undervalued.
Like many of you, I wasn’t someone who could afford to get my master’s degree right out of college or head right off to a MBA university. Nor did I have the years of experience most travel-related jobs called for.. Nor did I have the years of experience most travel-related jobs called for.
I didn’t hide this fact, either. I made it clear in my hundreds of cover letters and online profiles that what I lacked in technical experience, I more than made up for with my passion and willingness to learn. Does this approach equal immediate success? Not always (and it didn’t for me either). What it will do, though, is set you apart from the crowd.
The same goes for being honest in how you market yourself online. For example, my personal blog What Would Jane Do? combined the topics of tea, travel and Jane Austen. Sure, these had been discussed before, but never in conjunction with each other. Not only did this make me unique, but it was also real—as I was writing about things I cared about and that reflected my personality. Sooner or later, you will connect in person with those you network with online.
Being honest from the get-go will negate any awkward encounters and move you one step further towards your career goals.
Work and Travel Tip #3 - Make Mistakes & Learn From Them
You won’t get everything right the first time, trust me on this. You’ll make so many mistakes, get turned down more times than you count and constantly question if the effort is worth your energy. Before you have any further doubts, let me be clear: YES, it is worth it! Take those mistakes, not-so-great interviews and wish-I-would’ve-said-something-better moments and learn from them.
I wish I could give you specific ways, but it’s different for each person. All I know is that it was typically the unsuccessful interviews from which I learned the most. Try reaching out to the interviewers and request feedback—I did this every time and received some great advice that ended up being essential to my job hunt later on.
When you can demonstrate what you’ve learned, and not be afraid to admit your mistakes, potential employers will begin to sit up and take notice.
Work and Travel Tip #4 - Passion vs. Patience
Given that we live in an age of instant communication and gratification, it comes as a blow to many job hopefuls how long it can actually take to find that “perfect” job. As much as we’d like it to, the world doesn’t hand out favors whenever we demand them. It took me a whole year to even achieve my first full time job with GoAbroad. Up until that point, I was working multiple part time jobs, living at home to save on expenses and generally wondering where I was going to end up. We’ve all been there, and many of us still are.
You’d think that your passion for the travel industry would be an instant “in” but like it or not, there are thousands of others out there who feel the same. Yes, that passion will take you far, but it won’t happen overnight. Instead of rushing towards that end goal, take time to enjoy the actual process of getting there. Every experience you have along the way will teach you something—about yourself, your skills and what you’re capable of. It won’t always be easy, but it will help you to better appreciate the success you find at the finish line.
Work and Travel Tip #5 - Don’t Just Want It – Work For It
Along the same lines of balancing passion with patience, the same idea applies to not just wanting that dream job in the travel industry. The travel industry is often glamourized to the extent that career hopefuls overlook its realities.
Like any other job, there are bad days and there are good days. There are goals to achieve and challenges to overcome. If it’s this reality you seek, you can’t simply hope to get there by wanting it the most.
Instead, how can you prove that you’re the best candidate for the job?
If you’re like me, with no specialized master’s degree, no “five to ten years of experience” and no foreign language ability, the challenges can seem insurmountable. I guarantee you, though, that they are not; not if you actually put in the hard work. It may take longer than you’d like and you’ll certainly hit a few bumps along the way, but nothing is impossible if you apply yourself. Just think of all the things you’ll have learned at the end of the day.
By keeping in mind these five tips and not allowing a fear of failure to hold you back, a future in the travel industry is yours to take.
What advice can you offer for pairing work and travel?
Were these tips helpful for you? What would you recommend for career hopefuls interested in the travel industry? If you’ve cracked the code for pairing work and travel, we’d love to hear from you.
[note]Tiffany Harrison is the Partnership & Outreach Manager at GoAbroad.com, a comprehensive international education and alternative travel database. She is an avid tea-drinker who lives by the words of Jane Austen and considers her passport a map to discovering the world. Connect with Tiffany on Twitter and read more of her work at What Would Jane Do.[/note]
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