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Why an OE Doesn't Mean Putting Your Career on Hold

Why an OE Doesn't Mean Putting Your Career on Hold

Fortunately for me I’m writing this post from the otherside of the world, sitting in my new mobile home — a 2x4m Ford Transit. Like many of you, I spent countless late nights in the office, trying to invent ways that would allow me to leave all my responsibilities behind and head to a location far far away. Many times I was jolted from my day dream and back to reality. I had to work. I had a good job, two mortgages to pay, and a tonne of other expenses.

I was determined to make this day dream become a reality, but the guilt of leaving my job, my houses and putting my career ‘on hold’ meant it took a lot more energy and indecision to commit and take the plunge than what it should have.

Going through this transition from the corporate world to the travelling hippie lifestyle, has taught me many skills that I can’t imagine ever learning staring at a computer screen in an office. If you are weighing up the option of experiencing an OE a little later in life (like myself) then hopefully this post can give you the needed confidence and motivation going forward.

Timing means a lot

The impact an OE can have on your career depends on what kind of career you have before you leave. You really want to get your foot in the door of your chosen industry or profession before having an extended break — this way you have something to fall back on when you return. Each industry is slightly different. I had five years in two separate jobs before I took my year off. Don’t be afraid of what this gap may look like on your CV as you’re going to be able to list all the amazing, unique things you learnt on your OE, that are so relevant to the workplace and everyday life.

For me the timing was right, and I knew if I didn’t do it now it wouldn’t have happened at all. I don’t have kids, I don’t have dependents and my properties are tenanted — the time was perfect. There is a balance in life, and I didn’t want to be on my deathbed wishing I’d traveled more and worked less.

The Timing is Right, Now What?

Before resigning from work and booking a one way ticket, there are many things you need to consider. First off, how are you going to finance your OE. Maybe the most common pitfall to an OE but it shouldn’t be the thing that holds you back — you’ve just got to be smart with your money, put a plan in place and  implement it.

Budget budget budget  — You’ve put in the hard yards to get a travel fund, so why not put a budget in place to ensure your not returning home after two months instead of ten. Do you have enough funds to travel in style, or are you looking for a low cost hippie life — both options require a detailed budget and a lot of research!

Are you wanting to work while abroad? Don’t be afraid of this option as many of us can get restless with months of ‘just travel’. Working doesn’t have to be what you were doing back home — take the opportunity to do work in a role completely different to what you have prior especially if it involves something you are passionate about. Whether that be in a yoga retreat, a restaurant if you have a passion for food or maybe you love skiing so want to spend a winter in the French Alps. Volunteering is a fantastic option too!

What skills am I adding to my CV?

Be clear with yourself. Are you wanting to add to your skill set and make a positive impact on your CV? If so what experiences are you after. Travel teaches you many skills both hard and soft, and those that can’t be taught when trapped in the corporate world.

Lastly, stay in the loop. Subscribe to podcasts, and newsletters within your field and check social media platforms like Linkedin on the regular. You could also look for meetups in different destinations around the world, therefore growing your network further!

In life we will have a series of career moves. Taking your OE might be a little different from the corporate world, but the skills and experiences you will gain are going to be a asset to your CV!

In life we all need to make a living, but let's not confuse making a living with living your life.

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