Taking time out to travel

Do something outside your comfort zone and you could reap the benefits when you start looking for jobs.

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Taking time out after your studies doesn’t mean putting your feet up after all your hard work. There are many great opportunities to boost your confidence and experience and improve your CV. Most tend to fall into one of the following areas.

Work experience

You may want to get experience of employment. For some careers, such as journalism and social work, it is advantageous, or even necessary, to gain relevant work experience prior to professional training. Getting paid temporary work can help you earn money to fund further study or travel.

Voluntary work

Opportunities exist locally and overseas and can range from working with your local volunteer bureau to global organisations.

Short courses

You may want to gain new skills or brush up on existing ones. Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) courses are always popular, as are courses in areas such as word processing and other IT skills.


You can travel purely for the cultural experience or you can combine travel with voluntary or paid work experience, eg through the Australia Working Holiday Visa scheme. You can arrange paid or voluntary experience through various specialist organisations, or arrange things as you go along.

Pros and cons

Taking time out can help you work out what you want to do. It can provide essential pre-entry experience and help you develop valuable personal and career management skills such as adaptability, flexibility and the ability to deal with new challenges. It can also give you the opportunity to broaden your horizons and experience new cultures. Be aware, however, that if you leave your home environment you could be out of sync with the recruitment cycle on your return. You will also be competing with new graduates. If you are applying for technical careers, some employers may be concerned that your knowledge is not as ‘fresh’ as that of a more recent graduate. In applications and interviews discuss your time out in a positive way in terms of your overall personal development.

Written by Philip Clarke, Senior Careers Advisor (Work Placement) at Queen’s University Belfast.

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