Combine Travel and a Career!

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Jo Mills is the General Manager of Career Analysts, an organisation dedicated to helping individuals and businesses to identify their talent and realise their potential.

She writes a regular column for nzgirl to help you all with your career worries, troubles and questions…

If you’d like to get in touch with Jo you can email her here, or visit

Each year tens of thousands of young kiwis eagerly pack their bags with Vegemite and Vogels, and head off on a magical adventure filled with travelling, work and… well, drinking. 

Drifting from bar job to bar job, city to city, country to country, work is often thought of as a means to merely fund the next leg of the journey. Going to new places and meeting new people tends to be higher on the average “OE’ers” priority list than adding to their career development.  

However, little do many “OE’ers know”, overseas experience can have a profound impact on their career development. With a bit of focus and some smart choices, you can have a fabulous OE and build a stronger platform for career success.
It’s important to be clear on what you want to get out of the experience. A little bit of planning will help you to seize the many opportunities that will be available to you overseas. 
Before you leave, create a vision of what kind of skills, experiences and abilities you want to develop during your time away. When you come home, what do you want to have added to your CV? For example, you may want to work for a large global company, grow your internal networking skills and get some specific experience related to your field. 
If you can even complete a couple of good projects or challenging temping assignments, your CV will be that much richer when you come home. Also, the more experience you gain, the better work you will be offered, and the more you will earn giving you even more funds for your travel.
For maximum career impact do some pre-departure research on jobs available in your target countries. The jobs may not be exactly in your field of choice, but if they are related to it or encourage the development of skills that are highly applicable to your chosen field, then they will help keep your career momentum going. 
Although working consistently in your chosen field while overseas enables you to develop your career in specific, obvious ways and may look impressive on your CV, there are other ways to keep learning.
Even if your goal is to travel as much as possible and you can’t stand the idea of being tied down to a ‘real’ job, you can still grow your skills on your OE. Make the most of opportunities to see international speakers, attend expos or events in your field. New languages, experiencing different cultures, or volunteering might be some other ways to continue your learning.

Even working in relatively ‘low skill’ jobs overseas on a casual basis will add to your skill set. Skills such as interpersonal and communication skills, self-confidence, respect for diversity, flexibility/adaptability and self-reliance are core capabilities many of today’s employers are seeking.

So, rather than making it a two year hangover adventure – make your O.E count! Even if you’re not sure exactly what you want in a career, an O.E can be an exciting journey of self-discovery that provides you with the experience, insight and self-knowledge to discover what you are capable of and what you truly enjoy. Along the way you can pick up additional skills that will add to your career success.
Jo Mills


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