My career has always been top of my mind. I spent my school years running social media and planning events, and I spent my summers in chilly office buildings at various internships. As my four years came to a close and college graduation came closer and closer, I naturally started applying to public relations jobs in Washington, D.C.
While the next chapter in my life was ambiguous, I knew one thing for sure: no matter what, I’d be taking at least one month off before starting a job so that I could travel to the other side of the world. Since I take my career very seriously and put so much time and effort in preparing for it, choosing to take that month off before working was a difficult decision but one that was also so important for me. All college students should consider taking at least some kind of break before starting a job or grad school so that they can have a little time off and do something enriching.
For me, I knew I wanted to go somewhere that I might not ever get the chance to see again, and I wanted to go somewhere completely different. As much as my heart longed to return to Spain or Argentina, places where I had studied abroad, I knew I had to travel somewhere even farther away and somewhere with a culture I had never experienced. That’s why I chose to spend one month in Thailand and Cambodia.
As college graduation came and went, I packed my bags and set out for Asia. While I like to think of myself as having this whole travel thing down, Asia was completely new territory for me. It honestly scared me a little. But that’s why I went and am so glad I did. Traveling to places that scare you makes you grow as a person and adds so much life to your life.
Now that I’ve been working in my first full-time job, I am happy to say that I took the time off beforehand to go out into the world, learn about a new culture, and challenge myself. It’s in those challenges that I learned more about myself and I grew. While I’ve learned so much on the job, there are certain skills – skills critical to most jobs – that can only be learned outside of the workplace. I like to think that world travel is an excellent way of learning those skills, particularly the further you intentionally place yourself outside of your comfort zone. In my travels I’ve learned independence, confidence, problem solving, adaptability, empathy, and so much more in addition to furthering my understanding of other cultures and peoples.
Taking a month to travel is of course so much fun, but it also adds so much to a person’s life to prepare them for the working world. That’s why I’d recommend that any college student consider taking time off at some point to travel before starting their career. Take that step and don’t be afraid. Career opportunities will always be there, but adding unique life experiences to make you a better person and a better employee won’t always be as easy to do. Now is the time!