Next Steps: Career Choices & Resources

[singlepic=1568,300,,,right]Even before you’ve returned from your career break travels, you probably put some thought into what you want (or don’t want) from your next job.

If you are anything like us (Michael, Michaela, and Sherry), you probably fall into one of these categories:

  • You want to return to the Briefcase, but on a different career track
  • You want to utilize your skills and talents to pursue freelance work
  • You want to pick up the Backpack again, never to return to corporate

You had an incredible around-the-world experience but are ready to re-enter the corporate world. Michael always knew he’d return to corporate, and used his career break to refocus on what his career goals were. These were some of the resources he utilized to get a job upon his return:

Job Boards:

Executive Search Firms:


And don’t underestimate the power of your network. Keep in touch with your former colleagues and mentors during your travels and they can be extremely useful for opening up doors for you upon your return. LinkedIn makes this easier to do than ever.

And if you wish to seek employment from a firm that embraces the sabbatical mindset, YourSabbatical offers a comprehensive list of companies that do so.

You can segue your old career skills, and even some new ones you picked up as a travel blogger and photographer, into the freelance world.

I’ve always used my creative skills in the various jobs I had. So after my career break travels with Michael, I decided to finally pursue my dream of becoming a freelancer. I utilized my contacts at previous jobs to obtain work and have been building clients by word-of-mouth efforts for my business, Wanderlust Productions.

Some resources that I also use to help network, improve my skill set, and keep me motivated include:

  • MediaBistro – Offers jobs, classes, a community and news for media professionals
  • FreelanceSwitch – A community of freelance professionals from around the world, offering advice, resources, and a job board
  • Freelance Radio – Hosted by freelancers from a wide range of backgrounds in the media field, including a writer, graphic designer, and web developer

And here are some other sources you may find useful:

  • All Freelance – Directory of Freelance Job Boards, Resources & Articles
  • How Design – Job search advice & job board, insight on your resume & portfolio, and interviewing tips for creative professionals

You’ve been won over by backpacking and never want to settle down in the foreseeable future.

This is what Sherry felt like after her original 16-month career break. Here is how she obtained her CELTA certificate and ended up teaching English in Vietnam:

CELTA Certificate – ESL Jobs

And for over 30 years, Transistions Abroad has been a useful and comprehensive resource for Work Abroad, Study Abroad, Cultural Travel Overseas, and International Living.Living and Working Abroad.

One of the things you’ll have to get used to, however, is a much smaller paycheck. But Sherry has been able to transition from a six-figure salary to making just $18,000 a year. And here is a great article by Nora Dunn, a self-professed Professional Hobo, on how to travel full-time for $14,000 per year.

Here’s a whole other category that may apply to you. During your career break travels you may have had the opportunity to do some volunteer work. Maybe you were inspired enough and wish to re-focus your career path in the non-profit sector?

I’ve discussed Idealist as a great place to find volunteer opportunities abroad, but it is also a great career and job resource.

And keep in mind, it may be tough to find work right away, so while you continue your search, it may be worth doing some volunteer work to fill your time. And you never know – it could lead to a job!

What ever career path you end up back on, don’t forget the importance of networking. In addition to staying in touch with your previous colleagues and associates, making new contacts is invaluable to your job goals. Find forums and events that speak to your aspirations and work it. A great site to find such opportunities is Meetup.

Do you have any job success stories or advice to give? Please share!

Other comments

6 Comments on "Next Steps: Career Choices & Resources"

  1. Tweets that mention Next Steps: Career Choices & Resources | Briefcase to Backpack - Travel Advice for Career Breaks or Sabbaticals -- on Mon, 26th Oct 2009 4:30 pm 

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by BriefcasetoBackpack, David Lee. David Lee said: RT @CareerBreakHQs: Back from your #careerbreak travels? Here are #career resources to help you #careeradvice […]

  2. maria on Tue, 27th Oct 2009 2:38 pm 

    As I often say to people who are worried to go on an extended trip because they think it’ll ruin their chances for a career: “it doesn’t have to be travel or career, it can be both”.

    I have traveled long term for many years together with my whole family, and we have seen so many examples of people who go out traveling and come back with many new talents and abilities and a whole new perspective on work and career.

    Many people who put their travel experiences on ther resume, which I think is totally right – how much don’t you learn when you’re on the road?

    We have also seen many people coming back form trips with a new business idea (ourselves included) which has lead to creating a business of their own at home.

    Today, there are so many working opportunities connected to travel and if you are a bit imaginative and openminded the ways you can use your traveling for your career are endless.

  3. Michaela Potter on Wed, 28th Oct 2009 5:43 pm 

    Maria – I couldn’t agree with you more. You can learn so much more about the world when you travel, but you can also learn so much more about yourself.

    And it is great that you are involving your children in your extended travel – what an amazing classroom for them!

    The rest of the world seems to really understand the importance of travel, especially extended travel, and we wish to bring that to more Americans. We could learn a lot from how other cultures look at travel.

    Thanks for sharing and please come back!

  4. jill on Sun, 1st Nov 2009 1:42 pm 

    my first!

  5. Nora Dunn on Sun, 1st Nov 2009 11:32 pm 

    Wow – Thanks for the mention of my article on full-time travel! This post is full of awesome resources – I’m bookmarking it.

    For freelancing, you may also want to check out Elance (, which is a portal for freelancers to find work.

  6. Michaela Potter on Mon, 9th Nov 2009 10:35 am 

    Thanks for the recommendation Nora!

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go