Career Break Doesn’t Equal Career Suicide
In the post “Lisa Lubin’s New Business Card” Lisa shared with us how her career break didn’t hurt her career. It in fact enhanced it and has now opened up more career opportunities.
And this is one of the topics that came up when the New York City panel for Meet, Plan, Go! got together to brainstorm what we would discuss at our recent event. We wanted to touch on “Why don’t more people take career breaks?” and in our encounters one of those reasons is career related.
So what did our panel have to say about career fears?
Brook Silva-Braga (A Map for Saturday) – More Broadly Educated
First off, there WILL be job openings when you come home and your trip can certainly be positioned as a resume builder (which may or may not be BS) but without doubt the trip will make you a more broadly educated person, someone who can hold an intelligent conversation on more topics. Your geography will be better, your understanding of foreign markets will improve, your ability to relate to people of diverse backgrounds will be developed. In short, you will be a better, more attractive employee in virtually any field.
Jennifer Baggett (The Lost Girls) – Be Strategic
Although New Yorkers tend to have a bit overachieving/workaholic tendencies, many had traveled before or taken huge risks in their life (including moving to the city in the first place), so there was a certain respect level of my decision among my work peers – and a lot of friendly jealousy as most of them fantasized about doing the same thing.
Of course even though my bosses were really supportive (they even said they’d hold my job if I came back after only 3 months and would at least help me look for work if I stayed gone the full year), I still worried that I might be committing career suicide. But I think there were two main factors that ensured that didn’t happen: First, I was strategic about when I chose to leave. I had been in the TV industry long enough to have laid a solid foundation for a successful career/had established a good reputation in the industry and was at a position level where it made it easier to take a bit of time off. And second, I was able to do things on the road that ended up being marketable skills/filled the travel gap on my resume (having an award-winning travel blog, writing articles for magazines, volunteering, etc…).
Michael Bontempi (Briefcase to Backpack) – Return with Confidence
Worrying is not how I would categorize the feeling upon my return. If anything, I was clearer about the path I wanted to take, the role I was looking for and the type of companies I wanted to work for. My head was clearer which made me more confident in my ability to explain my work experience and qualifications.
Also, for me it depends how you define the word career. For this question I would ask, what is more worrisome – the person who invests time in themselves trying to find the right career, or the person who looks back on their past career and says ” You know what I always wanted to do or be?”
Sadly I know a lot more people in the latter category.
Sherry Ott (OttsWorld) – Real Life MBA
I was in a career that I wasn’t in love with, but timing and good luck put me on the path to IT back when I was 22. Fourteen years of not loving it, but loving the salary, and climbing the ladder. Then I realized I hated the ladder; and it all changed.
I left my career with no plan of what I would do when I came back, just hoping it all would organically come to me. After breaking free from the confines of the cube and corporate mentality, I was able to finally think, be creative, and open my eyes to different ways of making a living. Everyone gets their MBA, but I think a hands-on global experience can set you apart from others in the workforce. I’ve NEVER met a person who has taken a career break to travel and not been able to find a job upon returning…NEVER. The great thing about world travel is that you learn how to be flexible, scrappy, patient, and creative…all of this is needed to find a job, it’s not easy…but neither is traveling in the Gobi Desert by camel cart.
Brian Peters (No Debt World Travel) – Don’t Burn Bridges
I was open to anything that would happen to me career-wise. I will say never, ever burn bridges. The same people you work with now will be your best points of contact if you decide to come home and look for work. If they like you and trust you, they will keep their eyes and ears open. Most jobs are found through connections and word of mouth. This is even more the case if you’ve been out the country for an extended period of time.
Marie Elena Martinez (Marie’s World) – Similar Field, Different Career
[Similar to Brian Peters – Don’t Burn Bridges] It was through a maintenance of my PR contacts and book world contacts that I’m back in media, though on the creative side. All of my old colleagues have helped me launch a writing career. I’m indebted to them and their support.
Michaela Potter (Briefcase to Backpack) – Career Transition
I’ve planned my career breaks around times when I was ready to change or move onto a new career. So I used the break in between to travel. During my first break in 2001, I already had a consulting gig lined up and they knew that I would be traveling for three months when they offered me the job. In 2006, I was ready to go back to the non-profit world, but first volunteered in Peru for that summer. That experience led me to get a job in the international volunteer industry. And after our break in 2007, I decided to finally pursue a freelance career.
What are your career fears?