Posts Tagged ‘career break’

Breaking Free: Five Stages to a Career Break
Monday, April 23rd, 2012

For me, taking a career break wasn’t what rational people did.  Just quitting work was not “realistic.”  That’s what I had been raised to believe.  To get to where I am now–on a career break in South America since January–I had to go through five stages:

Stage 1: Envy

Having gone through university, I never took the opportunity to study abroad and was always envious of those who had.  My friends who returned from Italy, England and Spain with stories to tell was awe inspiring to me.  Then I had those friends who did the whole backpacking thing after college.  Again, that was a fleeting idea to me because (1) I didn’t have a trust fund and as a 22 year old, I did not have the finances for such an adventure and (2) I was of the mindset that after college I had to get my career started, and that meant entering the job market as soon as I exited university.

Stage 2: Regret

Envy inevitably leads to regret.  A few years into my advertising career, I was working in the New York City office of a company that happened to be based in London.  Upon threatening to resign, I was offered the opportunity to transfer to their London office.  While this was thrilling, my internal self was torn.  Being away for an indefinite period was exciting, but scary.  In my head, I thought about all the moments I would be missing back home and I knew my parents were not thrilled at the idea.  In the end, another company made me an attractive offer and I wound up staying in New York.

Stage 3:  Antsy-ness

One may ask, how can I be bored in a city like New York.  Living in New York, I’m constantly meeting people who are from other parts of the country — people who packed up their lives and took the dive to move to the big city.  I was once expressing to a friend of mine this envious feeling I had toward those people, and my need to take the same sort of plunge.  What she said has always stuck with me.  She told me I was one of those lucky people to have grown up with one of the best cities as my backyard.  For some reason though, I wanted more.  I wanted to live outside of my norm, to live outside of my box.  To live and work somewhere else, outside of NY, had an aura of excitement for me.

Stage 4: Guilt

The year 2008 marked a time of increasing unemployment.  At this point in my career, I had already “lived through” multiple rounds of layoffs at previous companies.  At the time, I was working for a national newspaper, and layoffs were fierce.  Colleagues would come into my office, worried about their jobs and the future of our team.  While I reassured them that we didn’t need to worry, inside my heart, I was truly hoping that my name would make the company cut list.  These thoughts made me feel a bit guilty as I watched the news and read about all the unemployed people struggling to pay their bills.  In truth, I wanted to switch places with them.

Stage 5:  Guts

It was the summer of 2011 and I was working at a digital start-up.  I always considered myself to be a person who did not shy away from a challenge, and I decided it was time to act.  What kept going through my head was the expression, “if not now, when?”  That meant getting some guts, quitting my job, leaving New York, packing up and saying goodbye.

I started to put my game plan together. I would give two months’ notice and travel to South America.  Focused on Ecuador, I started to look for volunteer opportunities in the country and borrowed Rosetta Stone from a friend of mine.

Fortuitously, lightning struck, and in September I was informed that the New York office would be closing its doors.  My head was spinning.  My team members were frantically updating their resumes, while I secretly thought to myself, “FINALLY! The stars had aligned and it was my turn.”


Sheryl Neutuch is a marketing professional from New York who took the plunge.  She is traveling, volunteering, learning and exploring in South America.  She is living her dream.

You can read more about her adventures on her blog, Smiling in South America.

How to Account for a Career Break on Your Resume
Monday, April 16th, 2012

You arrive home at the end of a life-changing travel experience and one of the biggest questions facing you likely will be how to find work again. Whether you traveled as part of a career break, gap year, or sabbatical, you will need to figure out how to best represent the time and experiences on your resume.

Where should it go on my resume?

It depends. Do you think the experiences you had traveling apply to you finding a new job in your field?  If so, then place it in the main part of your resume. If you don’t feel like it applies, then it probably belongs in a section reserved for Additional Information or Hobbies.

Kristin Zibell of is a frequent career breaker and she keeps her resume flexible saying,

I found the recruiters and hiring managers were looking for the professional story in my resume. Every statement on my resume needed to support this story and show a situation, action, and results.  If my travels and experiences had a direct relationship to the position, like my blogging or volunteering abroad, then I listed it like a position. Most of the time, I found that travel was an interesting fact about me and explained the time gaps, but not directly related to the positions. In this case, I placed my travel experiences at the bottom in an ‘Additional Activities’ section that colored who I was and what I had done.

Kristin’s resume highlights her travels as international experience:

? Ten months of travel to India, Nepal, Southeast Asia, Middle East, and Europe from October 2008 to May 2010.

? Activities included volunteer work at Mother Teresa Mission Charities in Kolkata with disabled women and teaching English to street children in Jaipur.

? Designed and authored three travel blogs during multi-month these solo trips. Currently editor of

What type of information should I share about my travels?

It’s probably NOT a good idea to put that you were a beach bum for 12 months, or that you traveled the full moon party circuit. Instead, think about what you did on your travels that had to do with education, skill building, volunteering, and business skills and highlight them in a professional manner. But there are some other skills you might want to consider:

One should always represent any volunteering done while traveling on their resume. It demonstrates a commitment to education, giving back to other cultures, and global experience. You should always include where your volunteering took place, what your responsibilities were, and if there was any end result. The end results could be tangible things such as building a house, cleaning up after a natural disaster, or restoring wetlands.

If not covered somewhere else in your resume, also consider including any resume building intangible results such as improved leadership skills, proven ability to take initiative, as well as listening and communication skills. Finally, if your volunteering was for an extended period of time such as 6 months to a year, then consider putting this experience in your work or education history.

More and more people are working while they travel. Work that is relevant to your field is important to highlight. Did you do any freelance work, consulting, working at a hostel, or teaching ESL?  If so, this can belong in your work history.

Meet, Plan, Go! co-founder Sherry Ott highlighted her various work experiences as international work experience:

ESL Instructor: ILA Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City

?  Teaching adults English as a Second Language (ESL).

Consultant:  CAMENAE, Singapore

?  Delivered a usability analysis of the e-commerce site and led subsequent redesign.
?  Conducted tests and created a regression test plan.
?  Consult with owners on their business vision and ensure that it can be supported on the site.  Offer guidance on short and long term business plans and their technical implementation.

Did you blog, write for publications, or do photography; all of these things illustrate that you took your travels seriously. Think about the new skills you learned when maintaining your blog. Did you increase your knowledge about Search Engine Optimization, marketing/sales of affiliate programs, coding, and social media tools?

Laura Keller did a career break with her husband Ryan and blogged about it at She represented her blogging in the following way:

Digital Entrepreneur, Travel Blogger & World Explorer

? Expanded economic and cultural views while exploring 20 countries in 14 months of extensive travel across six continents
? Created, launched and hosted the travel website, attracting 10,000 unique monthly visitors
? Governed online traffic, social media and SEO to create advertising and sponsorship revenue for
? Contributed travel articles to leading lifestyle and travel Web sites and blogs

Talking about the soft skills

Even if all you did was lounge around a beach all day and drink beer, you picked up some business skills while traveling around the world.  It’s hard to think about the mundane day-to-day experiences as skill building, but they are. There are a lot of business skills you can learn without actually having gone to business school. In fact, these “business skills” are simply important life skills that can give you an edge:

Negotiation skills – All that time spent in markets haggling over the cost of a magnet was beneficial.  You were exposed to and employed various negotiation tactics that can be highlighted. Businesses want people who are sharp negotiators and can make deals not people who are push overs.
? Budgeting and Planning – You most likely had to plan and save for your career break.  In addition, you continue to monitor your budget and assess any financial risks.
? Adaptability – When you travel, things go wrong, plans change, there are mudslides that you can’t predict.  As a traveler you are forced to change plans constantly.  You handle the issues that are hurdled your way quickly after a few months on the road. In the ever changing world of business, the ability to adapt is important.
? Communication  – When trying to converse in foreign cultures every verbal and non-verbal communication is necessary to overcome language and cultural barriers. This skill is helps you deal with people which is an important aspect of any job. Workers with good communication skills are the ones who rise fast.

All of these new skills belong on your resume. And when you are asked about them in an interview, you’ll be able to share an amazing story about “that time in Vietnam…” when a skill came in handy and how it can help you in your job.

Bottom Line

Use your travel to make you stand out. Keep in mind that many of these experiences, if described in a professional manner, will make you stand out from other candidates.

Don’t hide your travel when searching for a job; embrace it!


How to Land a Crewing Job at Sea
Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Kelly Wetherington has been traveling “by the seat of her skirt” since she first escaped her cubicle in 2007. Her insatiable curiosity for the world and thirst for adventure have led her to trek, dive, sail, zip, surf, climb, and paddle her way through 25 countries across Central America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. On Monday, she shared the story of landing her first crewing job. Today, she explains how to find a crewing job at sea.

What to do to increase your chances of becoming crew

Learn as much as you can before you seek a position.

Go sailing, practice tying knots, familiarize yourself with yachtie terms.

Learning to sail is like learning to speak a foreign language. If you aren’t willing to ask the dumb questions like “What does to reef mean?” then you will never learn the lingo (reefing is taking in a sail).

— Hot bunking – what happens when there is more crew than beds. Rotating beds between watches.
— Sheet – ropes
— Starboard – right side of the boat
— Port – left side of boat
— Tack – change direction in reference to wind
— Bow – front of yacht
— Stern – back of yacht

What you can expect to learn aboard

— How to stay on course
— Steering
— Navigation
— How to tie many different knots
— Trimming Sails
— Jibbing
— How to scale and clean a fish
— How to get along well with others in very small spaces

Common crewing tasks

— Cooking
— Day/Night watches
— Assisting with adjusting sails
— Cleaning
— Boat Maintenance
— Fishing
— How to anchor
— Provisioning (grocery shopping, stocking up for months at a time)

What to bring with you

— Waterproof jacket and pants
— Fleece
— Crocs (I swore I never would, but they are useful and you should dress the part)
— Seasickness medication
— Sunscreen
— Hat
— Books
— Books on tape (for night watches)
— Headlamp with red light so you don’t wake others during the night
— Tolerance and an open mind

What to expect while at sea

— Hard work
— Adventures
— Beautiful sunsets
— Yachtie lifestyle is not as glamorous as you might think
— Be prepared to go for days/weeks without a shower
— Zero privacy
— BIG swells
— Seasickness
— Boredom

Crewing Seasons Around the World

South Pacific:  May-October

Caribbean – year round, but busiest season is October – March

Mediterranean – May – September

North Europe – June-September

How to choose the boat that is right for you

**It doesn’t matter the size or condition of a boat, the only thing that matters is that you like the other people on board.

If you do not get along well with someone on land, chances are you are going to have a lot of troubles at sea! Being tolerant of differences is key to surviving in a small confined space with diverse personalities and opinions.

**A seemingly normal person on land can transform into a totally different person at sea. It is the risk you take in the name of adventure!

Happy sails to you!

Crewing in the South Pacific
Monday, April 9th, 2012

Kelly Wetherington  has been traveling “by the seat of her skirt” since she first escaped her cubicle in 2007. Her insatiable curiosity for the world and thirst for adventure have led her to trek, dive, sail, zip, surf, climb, and paddle her way through 25 countries across Central America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. Today she shares the story of landing her first crewing job.

As I knock, knock, knocked on the window of a sleek catamaran with a shiny teak deck, I wondered, is this appropriate behavior? Had I been visiting a house, I would have knocked on the front door, but climbing aboard seemed intrusive. No one emerged from below deck. Maybe they were out, or sleeping, or simply don’t open the door for strangers?

I scribbled the boat’s name, Summer Sol, in my notebook, under the column “try again later,” next to growing list of boats that did not need crew. Surrounded by hundreds of masts from around the world, Thomas and I were hopeful we could find a Captain to take us with them to the South Pacific. We were walking the docks of Opua Marina in Bay of Islands, New Zealand. We had previously tried our luck in Auckland, the City of Sails, and Whangarei, all on the North Island, where yachts anchor and wait out the cyclone season November – May.

We were gaining recognition and support around the marina. “Did you find a boat yet?” the French captain asked us, who unfortunately already had his crew or would have taken us aboard. “Not yet!” I told him, and he wished us luck. To our dismay, we learned only two weeks prior, thirty yachts participating in a South Pacific rally had been looking for crew, but had since finalized their crew lists. With many things in life, it seemed you need to be in the right place at the right time to land a crewing job.

We were craving a big adventure, to go where few others have gone before, to explore remote islands, experience local cultures, and to learn something new … how to sail. Both avid kitesurfers, we love the sea and wind and hoped for the opportunity to ride the southeast trade winds by boat and kite board. Additionally, crewing on boats would allow us to travel very inexpensively and for longer. We were running out of the money after nine months on the road, but weren’t yet ready to go home.

We figured we could afford to sail around the islands for three months if we found work on a boat and lived frugally. While it is common for experienced crew to be paid, inexperienced crew are rarely paid and can expect to share in the cost of food and petrol (typically averaging only $5-15/day).

We were greeted with a variety of responses to our question “Are you looking for crew? An older gentleman eyed us suspiciously when I told him that we had never been on an ocean passage before (a.k.a. blue water sailing). He shook his head in disgust. “You guys are going to get so sick out there,” he said with a snarl, recounting an experience he had with a couple so connected and in love that that the minute one got sick the other soon followed, rendering them useless crew. He would be setting sail for Fiji in a week but hadn’t planned to take any crew. I didn’t understand how this was possible. “Don’t you need someone to keep watch so you can sleep?” One of the most common duties of crew is to keep watch throughout the day and night, typically in 3-4 hour shifts. While on watch it is your job to keep a look out for other boats (with sleeping captains), whales, and squalls. Another typical job of crew is to cook, steer, and assist in raising/trimming the sails and managing the jib.

The fact that Tom is a dude made our search harder than anticipated. Many captains accept “Female Crew Only” having no qualms explaining this with a straight face. Gender preference/discrimination is an apparent norm in yachtie culture; despite the nautical superstition that women are bad luck on boats since boats are considered to be female and having another woman on board could make that boat jealous! As disturbing as it was for me to imagine being alone at sea with one of these salty dogs, I could understand their preference. Life is short, why not be surrounded by pretty ladies if you can?

We joked that the only way we were going to get on a boat was to find a female captain, a seemingly unlikely scenario, until we heard about HER. “Her boat’s called Wonderland,” a skipper told us in a strong Aussie drawl, “and she is looking for crew.” Since no one knew her name, we decided to call her Alice, and we were determined to sail with her.

As we wandered aimlessly in search of Alice, I felt I would know her when I saw her. And I did. As we approached a group of yachties, I noticed a woman whose broad stance and strong demeanor contradicted her white hair and aging skin.

Her name was Evi, a 70-year old retired college professor from Colorado who single handedly sails offshore, but prefers to have crew claiming it makes her journey more fun. She suggested we go somewhere to talk and asked us to tell her three strengths and three weaknesses. She wondered if either of us were modest, an important question I would learn later.

We bounced along in her dingy, salt water splashing my clothes as we approached Wonderland, a 40-foot sloop. We climbed aboard ducking as we climbed down the stairs into the dark cabin. Fresh fruit and veggies hung from tiny hammocks above the berths. I was startled by the lack of space, “the boat sleeps four but there will be five of us” she confirmed. We would be forced to “hot bunk,” rotating beds between watch shifts.

She handed me a large glass mason jar.While at sea, you will pee inside this and dump overboard,” she explained as nonchalantly as you would point the direction to the nearest toilet. With determination, I prevented my internal reaction of horror from surfacing to my face. Thomas would later say he would have paid good money to know what was going through my mind at that very moment.

She also informed us there was no shower on the yacht. No big deal, I thought. I was no stranger to “roughing it” having lived in a campervan called Octopus the previous two months and having been a “dirty backpacker” throughout years of travel. If anyone could “pop a squat” over a mason jar, it was me. I understood why modesty was not allowed on board.

With nervous excitement for the unknown, we set sail for Tonga! Wonderland became our self-contained world during the 16-days it took us to us to reach land.

We continued our adventure for three months (May-August), on three very different yachts. Our sailing adventure took us to the many islands of Tonga, Fiji, and Vanuatu. It was much easier to find our second and third crewing jobs having had the experience of a long ocean passage under our belts.

Would I do it again? Absolutely.

Check back on Wednesday as Kelly shares her tips for finding a crewing job in the South Pacific. In the meantime, you can follow Kelly’s adventures on Twitter or Facebook.

Photo Friday: Jaipur, India
Friday, April 6th, 2012

This Photo Friday was submitted by Facebook fans Matt and Luz of Inertia Interrupted.

They abandoned corporate life to seek out a greater purpose by cultivating an experience-rich lifestyle.  Since that time they have been deep sea diving, visited Mt. Everest Basecamp, toured in Asia, and are currently studying Mandarin Chinese in Beijing. They took this photo at the Amber Fort in Jaipur, India during their 5 week tour of the country.

Want to see your photo here? Check out our easy submission policy!

How to Take a Career Break to Travel
Monday, March 26th, 2012

If you attended a Meet, Plan, Go! event, get our newsletter, have followed our Briefcase to Backpack blog, follow our @MeetPlanGo  twitter stream, or follow our Meet, Plan, Go! Facebook page then I’m guessing that this is the question that you are dying to get an answer to.  Right?

So – how do you take a career break and travel?

Believe it or not, I have an answer for you and it’s simple.

Just do it.  (thank you Nike marketing geniuses!)

Okay, I understand that many of you just wrinkled your nose and shook your head and are about ready to close this web page because you don’t believe it’s that simple.

Fine – for those of you who want a more complex answer then my answer is to spend a lot of time scouring through the internet doing searches on Google like these:

How can I travel?”

“What insurance do I need for travel?”

“How do I not hurt my career if I take a break to travel?”

“What should I do on my career break?”

“What are good volunteering opportunities?”

“How can I save money to travel?”

“How do I travel on a budget?”

“How to travel solo?”

“What do I need to do to prep for extended travel?”

“How do I tell my employer I want to take a break?”

“What do I do when my family/friends don’t support my decisions?”

“How do I find a job after a career break?”

Eventually you will find all of your answers you are looking for.  You will realize that taking a career break isn’t rocket science; nor is it only for the well off, or for those people who have traveled their whole life, or for new age hippies, or for the young, or for the single, or for those who are daring.  You will realize that it’s attainable for everyone no matter what your situation.  If you want it bad enough, you can do it.

However all of this searching and research takes time…lots of time.  You will get lost in Google results spending hours and hours down an insurance or round-the-world airfare rabbit hole and you still may not have answers.  Many professionals don’t have the time to do all of this research and work you have other things to do  – like work more hours than you should, and take care of your family.

Wouldn’t it just be easier if all of this information you needed were in once place and there were people there in that place who you could ask questions to and get answers quickly from a human being?

No, you aren’t dreaming…this career break resource and community utopia exists. 

You can get access to all of the resources you need in one place and meet others who have done it or are planning it who will support you and cheer you on in your career break goals.

Learn more about why Career Break Basic Training will help you accomplish your travel and professional goals, who should join, what you get from Basic Training, and read testimonials of people where are now on the road.    

You can even check out a Sneak Peak series to see what kind of information you will get access to in order to help you plan and take your career break travels

And if you sign up before the end of March, you can get it all for a steal – just $99 (a discount of $50!), PLUS coupons you can use towards your travel itineraries and airfare worth $175.

Do the math…you will end up on top AND you will save the time of searching endlessly through the Google “travel” rabbit hole.

See – it’s just that easy.  Now all you have to do is

Just do it.

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

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