Whether you’re switching careers or just buggering off to travel overseas, a break from work can be a useful tool to garner not just life experience, but extra skills with which to arm yourself for your next big move. If nothing else, it can give you the opportunity to have a break, refresh, and reassess where you’re at. Here are a few ways to make a career break work for you.
This is your chance to take a breather, clear your head and reassess – what do you really want out of your career? Do you just need a break to avoid getting stale, or is it time for a radical career overhaul? Take this opportunity to get some perspective, to look inside, and calmly determine whether it’s time for a major change. There’s nothing like a change of scenery to get a little perspective, so it’s probably worth considering taking some of your accumulated leave to haul your weary frame somewhere relaxing for a long-overdue holiday.
It’s well-known that unlike the old days, it’s now commonplace for people to switch careers several times throughout their lives.
Career change can be a bold move, because in some cases it means sacrificing financial security and what from the outside looks like a perfectly good job, or seeking financial security where you have none right now. In any case, if you’re dissatisfied, complacent, or apathetic about the job you have right now – in other words, if you’re not happy – and you rate happiness as a chief yardstick for success, there’s no time like the present to head in a new direction.
Now that you have time to spare, you should be doing in-depth research into your prospective career, and really weighing up the pros and cons of making the change. What kind of financial planning will it involve? Is it sufficiently different, or similar to the job you’re in now? And will your skills be transferable to your new career?
This could be the perfect time to re-train or upskill. The kind of training you’ll seek will depend on your goals. Are you training with a new career in mind? Are you just looking to upskill within your industry or seeking to break out on your own? Or just wanting to learn some useful skills for your own interest, regardless of job prospects?
Depending on the answers to these questions you’ve got a range of choices, from uni degrees to short courses and vocational certificates, like a massage course, business course or teaching degree.
Training also shows employers that you’re not one to rest on your laurels, that you’re constantly willing to learn new things and see things from different perspectives.
If you are unsure about your next big career move, training is a great way to test the waters of a field you’re interested in, giving you an idea of what skills you will need to learn and master, and whether or not that’s really for you.
Taking a break to travel is a profoundly useful way to occupy your time. You’re meeting different people, seeing different places, experiencing new things – all of which helps make you a more learned and rounded individual. This kind of life experience is highly valued by many employers, who don’t just want people who have been in school since the age of five.
Travel can, however, create an awkward gap in your resume – but it doesn’t have to. Travelling provides a unique opportunity to add to your skillset, and studying while you’re travelling, or studying in order to travel, are both worthy pursuits – and more possible now than ever before.
Enter distance education – a mode of study that’s becoming increasingly popular because of the flexibility it provides. ‘Distance ed’ offers a swathe of benefits for those who don’t want to be bound to on-campus obligations, and who are capable of disciplining themselves to study alone. You get the same support as on-campus students and the same level of dialogue with tutors – you just do it where you want to, be it Paris, Buenos Aires or Timbuktu.
If you’re not keen on studying while you’re travelling, you might like the idea of studying to facilitate your travel, to give you skills that you can take overseas (so you don’t have to busk, beg, or bust your back picking fruit). The good news is that there are many courses, short and long, that will help you find employment elsewhere.
A TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate or diploma is one of the most useful qualifications you can take abroad. You gain the skills and the right to teach English, and develop your ability to communicate with foreigners. You can study by distance at your convenience, and take your teaching qualification anywhere in the world.
For many, being a travel writer and photographer sits at the apex of desirable jobs. Travel is actually your chief job requirement – it's a tough gig, but someone has to do it. By taking a short course and gaining a qualification, you could be paid to document your adventures in print and photos.
Another big help when travelling is studying a tourism or hospitality course. This doesn’t have to mean just getting a bar service certificate to serve Fosters to drunk Aussies in Nottingham, but encompasses work in hotels, restaurants, ships, cafes – all those businesses that rely on people capable of providing good service around the globe. This kind of work supplements your travels significantly as it ensures you meet plenty of people and get to know the character of an area fast – and make a quid at the same time.
So whether it’s for travel, a career change or otherwise, a time-out from your present career can be a fertile period of rejuvenation rather than career suicide. Learning is perpetual and life is short, so seize the day! And take a break.
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