“Not all who wander are lost,” is the favorite bio quote for every insta famous travel blogger I drool over when I’m scrolling through my feed. While I studied for my college finals, all I could dream about was laying on exotic beaches and eating strange foods in foreign lands. So I moved from America to Spain for two years to teach English and explore the world. I traveled to 20 countries in 3 years after college then I moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue a career.
All I had on my resume was two years of bartending, two years of teaching English in Spain, and a professional writing internship. Accompanied with two Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology and Professional Writing, I was applying to every entry level job I could find online: receptionist, copywriter, administrative assistant, paid intern, server, production assistant and more.
In one month, I applied to ~700 jobs on every job platform I could find. Within that time, I only got 10 interviews.
Many of those interviews looked at my teaching in Spain and said, “So like what do you want to do, teach?” And when I explained, “No, I did that so I could travel and now I want to start an actual career preferably in administration or writing.” To which the response was, “This isn’t a teaching job, “that was in like 4 interviews!
Employers who saw my abroad experience thought that experience was irrelevant. Many interviews said, “So you don’t have any administrative experience?” “I had to lead children, create lessons plans, and communicate with teachers and parents. All of these things are administrative duties just in education. I can apply that here.”
My applications felt like they were getting thrown away even for service jobs like a barista or bartender (both jobs I have years of experience in). Each time I got shrugged off. It was only three weeks but I couldn’t help but feel like I wasn’t going anywhere.
Finally, I applied to seven temp agencies. I only got a call from one, Apple One. I was greeted by a young Staffing Associate. She loved my resume. “You’ve been everywhere!” she said. “I love that you traveled! I think we can find you something.” She listed three jobs off the top of her head and from then on we communicated over two weeks about different jobs. Finally, I landed a receptionist position at a corporation. I spoke to the recruiter that ultimately approved my position and she said, “Well, everyone acts like a child so I might as well hire a teacher.”
It’s interesting how employers were just focused on a checklist were unable to identify characteristics that were transferable but professional recruiters saw my experience as valuable.
That being said, it’s important to go into detail in your resume and cover letter all the skills gained at your teaching position: mediating conflict, collaborating with other teachers, met set out objectives, and created interactive and creative lesson plans. You have to sell yourself and don’t worry about being wordy.
Travel was what I needed professionally and spiritually however I would hesitate to go any longer than two or three years simply because starting new career in your 30’s is going to be monumentally more difficult that in your 20s.
My abroad experience I was not truly valued on the job market like I thought it would be. It made me glad I came to LA to start a career when I did. If I was 30 and only had teaching abroad on my resume, I’m sure it would have been even harder to find a job. Yes, traveling is fun. Then the fun must end if you want a career. Teaching isn’t going to be great experience if you are hoping to eventually become an administrative assistant, a marketing representative or an accountant that experience is not going to further your career.
Yes, it’s a job and at least I don’t have a resume gap but it isn’t the experience a lot of employers look for. Live in the now but also have a plan for the future.