Many millennials, myself included, are struggling with the decision between travel and our careers. But what if there doesn’t have to be a compromise? What if losing the opportunity for another internship experience, missing out on some classes, or even putting off work for a year after graduation to travel abroad could benefit your career? As someone who’s very career-driven but also wants to see the world, I’ve been asking myself these questions for quite some time. While I may not know the exact answer for everyone, I do know that after studying abroad in Spain for four months, I learned more than I ever could have learned from classes or an internship. Here are some ways that I see traveling abroad as being beneficial for your career:
1. You become more open.
Studies have shown that traveling abroad can lower your need for closure, thus making you more open to ideas and preventing you from making decisions too early. Additionally, these studies have shown that traveling abroad can prevent you from making discriminatory hiring decisions, as you’ll be less likely to stereotype.
2. Your creativity will blossom.
Exposure to a culture and environment completely different from what you already know can bring you more ideas and inspiration, something that can be beneficial in almost any field.
3. You become more adaptable.
Adjusting to a new environment can be difficult. Being able to adapt to change is something that employers want to see. If employers see that you were able to adapt to a completely new environment and culture, then they will be confident that you can adapt to any changes or challenges that the professional world might bring you.
4. You become more confident.
Being able to navigate and travel in a completely different setting can be a challenge, but overcoming this challenge will make you more self-confident. I never thought of myself as being capable of traveling completely by myself, even in the U.S., let alone all over Europe, but now that I’ve done it, I feel that I can do more that I’ve never done before. I’ve gained in more self-confidence, which is certainly something that an employer would want to see.
5. You can practice meeting people.
I know – you practice meeting people all the time, but traveling abroad gives you the opportunity to practice meeting so many different kinds of people. Having the ability to befriend a complete stranger, especially someone with a completely different background and culture, in just one conversation is good practice for working well with the many people you’ll meet in your professional life.
6. You’ll feel reenergized.
The constant day-in-day-out routines of life in the U.S. can take their toll after a while. Traveling abroad can provide a nice break. Once you return, you’ll feel reenergized and more appreciative of the life you have in this country. You’ll feel excited to be back at work and ready to get back into your work with new passion and energy.
So have I convinced you? For these reasons, as well as many more, travelling abroad can definitely help you professionally, so in choosing to travel, you aren’t necessarily sacrificing your career.
How have you seen your travels abroad help you professionally? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!