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Staff Stories / UK

5 ways becoming a digital nomad shaped my career

A passport full of stories on how a decade of working holidays can impact your future career. Over to Isis...

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I’m Isis, a 27-year old Latina from Rhode Island who traded in the small-town vibes and a career in music for the adventure of a lifetime and a career in travel.

There’s a common misconception in the working holiday world that you can only work the odd job and can’t actually build a meaningful career while travelling. However, I’ve managed to find a way to make travel into a career and make working holidays my pathway into doing so. So, if you need a bit of convincing (or just a couple of points to persuade your parents/ guardians into letting you buy that one-way ticket) keep on reading.

Why bother fitting in

… When you can stand out. A part of my core curriculum in university was to obtain an internship. I sent out those million and a half applications and faced rejection after rejection, until I finally came across an international internship provider that guaranteed an internship placement abroad. I hadn’t even thought about going abroad to intern before, but with my competitive nature, I knew that if I could secure something overseas, I’d stand out amongst my peers when it came to applying for jobs after graduation.

So off I went to intern in the UK in London, on a Temporary Work Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) visa, to work in radio. Not only did I make life-long friends from all over the world (and met my Aussie partner), but I also networked my way into my first career opportunity. From that point on, anytime I went into a job interview, I always got a comment on how stand-out my CV was with all my international experience.

Stop waiting for the opportunity to come to you

Go seek it out instead (ahem... another cliché Tumblr graphic quote). Once I graduated, I reached back out to that same internship provider asking them if they had any jobs open. They replied saying that they did - the only thing was the opening they had was based in Melbourne, Australia. I could have taken this as a rejection, but instead, I started researching how I could get myself over there as soon as possible. Enter here: the Australia working holiday. With a year allowance to work in the country and having new-found Aussie friends I met during my internship abroad, I knew I had to give it a go. Worst case scenario, I would fail and come home with a hell of a story to tell.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t fail, and it was by far the best decision I ever made. With the knowledge that I had the rest of my twenties to max out my use of working holidays, once this one was up, I sent a list of other countries to my employer that I could work in. So, when they had an opening in Dublin, I made sure to leap at that as well. This ambition and fearlessness translated into every aspect of my career for years to come.

I would take any and all opportunities to keep travelling, and so I ended up working in a variety of roles and across regions with the same mentality that the worst thing that could happen is that I would fail. But time and time again, I rose to the occasion, gaining the respect of senior leadership and quickly climbing the ranks within the company with my ability to take risks in exchange for results at work - as well as in my personal life.

The magic sauce is how you tell your story

Yes, working abroad can be seen by potential employers as a cute gap year or holiday where you took a break. Or it can be seen as the pivotal experiences that built on your professional development. If you’ve travelled before, you know that the skills you pick up along the way are absolutely transferrable. For example, my story about the time that I got trapped in London unable to get home to Colombia because I forgot ESTA visas are a thing even for layovers in the US (PSA for anyone that didn’t know) and ended up pivoting my plan completely and moving back to Melbourne instead could be just another funny travel story. Or, it can be a testament to my adaptability and my solution-oriented mindset where I can look at a problem and think on my feet to find an immediate solution.

Think about it - as a hiring manager would you rather hear yet another story about how someone navigated an obstacle with a project to meet a deadline? Or would the candidate that told the story about how they managed to negotiate with a boat owner to take them on a tour of the islands in Croatia with €20 to their name stick out to you more? Can you provide an example of how you manage to work with people from various backgrounds? Sure! I have a network that spans five continents because of the people I met travelling. Any hiring manager will tell you that storytelling is a skill that will always make an interview far more interesting. Learn to word your experiences into the skill set that any role is looking for, and travel will quickly become the most valuable tool in your kit.

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Great Ocean Road in Australia

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London being iconic

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This Cliffs of Moher view never gets old

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Isis Loyola Delgado

JENZA Staff | On the road

From the US and Uruguay, our People & Culture Executive, Isis has spent the last seven years hopping around the world on working holiday visas. When she's not travelling, you'll find her dancing at a local Salsa night or singing at her piano.

“Yes, working abroad can be seen by potential employers as a cute gap year. Or as the pivotal experiences that built on your professional development."

Working remote ≠ work from home

Or rather, it doesn’t have to. So many companies nowadays offer a remote option for their employees. More and more, we see that employees don’t always enjoy this because of the lack of social opportunities, or they want to be able to go into an office. My question is: why??? Sure, working from home isn’t always fun. But would you rather work from your home office, or work in a cute café in Rome? Remote working gives you the freedom to keep on exploring. Of course, this does sometimes require you to be a bit flexible with your schedule to be able to attend your meetings, etc. But as long as your employer has flexible working opportunities, this could mean a 7am –3pm schedule where you still have time to explore museums and go sightseeing. Plus, no need to use up your holiday allowance. At least for me, this is the ultimate definition of work-life balance.

Embrace moxie

This beautiful noun was gifted to me by one of my best travel friends, and it means embracing difficult situations with tenacity, spirit, and courage. Needless to say, any person who has travelled or lived abroad has moxie. But how has this shaped my career?

For me, I can’t fathom taking on my first management role at 23 or becoming a Regional Manager at 25 without it. Some people would say I’m confident, sometimes to a fault. Being a young woman of colour in the business world is no easy feat, let alone in a leadership position. But if there’s one thing that this travel life has taught me, it’s that you are the only person who can take opportunities away from yourself. You’re the only person who can tell yourself to not get on that plane, to not apply for that visa. You’re the only person who can decide not to apply for that role because you don’t tick every box.

We’re so afraid of failure and rejection that we take ourselves out of the game before allowing anyone else to tell us why we can’t achieve something, or where we still have room to grow. But if we don’t allow ourselves these learning opportunities, we’ll never get anywhere. So, I take on every role I’m given (even when I’m not sure I can do it!) because someone gave it to me which means someone believes I can, even if I can’t quite understand it myself. The way I see it, if I can pack up a suitcase and get on a plane to build a life, I can handle anything a job throws at me. And sure, sometimes it’s an act because I’m absolutely petrified on the inside, but sometimes that just means it’s time to embrace that delulu fantasy because it just might work out.

Get comfortable with the uncomfortable

We all know travel grants us so many gifts. Experiences, memories, stories. But the best part (in my opinion) is that when you really embrace it and get comfortable with the uncomfortable, you get to know the truest, strongest, and most powerful version of yourself. You get to know people’s stories and learn to navigate almost any situation. And if you’re lucky, it builds up a wealth of skills and knowledge that you’re able to translate into a career. In the wise words of my colleague here at JENZA: “You’re not winging it, you’re living it.” It’s time to stop living to work and start working to live your best life.

If you’re reading this and thinking - hey it's about time I finally made that move to Canada or challenged myself to explore a new culture in Japan. We're just an email or a phone call away to help you get there.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Isis Loyola Delgado

JENZA Staff | On the road

From the US and Uruguay, our People & Culture Executive, Isis has spent the last seven years hopping around the world on working holiday visas. When she's not travelling, you'll find her dancing at a local Salsa night or singing at her piano.

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