Leverage your vacation time to benefit your career

Leverage your vacation time to benefit your career

Do you have well-developed leadership skills? Are you creative? Are you accustomed to working with people from other cultures and backgrounds?

Today’s employers want candidates who have more than just a certificate or college degree. They’re looking for people with diverse abilities and qualities — such as leadership skills, language skills, creativity, cultural sensitivity and initiative taking. But it’s not always so easy to acquire these skills in school or on the job.

Fortunately, as Jon Simmons points out in his Monster article “Extracurricular activities for résumés,” activities such as charity work and leadership roles can allow you to develop marketable skills. So this summer, instead of soaking up the rays on a sunny beach, why not leverage your vacation to advance your abilities? Here are some of the most popular types of destination organizations with activities that can help you enhance your skills and knowledge:

  • Learn a new language overseas. Employers value candidates who speak more than one language and there are many organizations that offer summer language courses. For example, you could learn Spanish in Madrid or Barcelona, Italian in Rome or German in Berlin. This type of vacation offers the benefit of allowing you to practice what you’ve learnt while at the same time developing a deeper understanding of a different culture.

  • Take art classes. There are several organizations that offer retreats with art classes both in Canada and abroad. Travel to the La Cloche Mountains to learn how to paint or attend a sculpture workshop in the Provence — you can be sure to learn how to think more creatively!

  • Build homes for underserved communities. Do you want to make a difference in people’s lives? Habitat for Humanity offers opportunities to build homes for homeless or underserved people both in your own community and overseas. This type of activity can help you develop leadership skills, teamwork abilities and perseverance.

  • Help with wildlife conservation. If you care about animals — including endangered species — you can volunteer with a wildlife conservation project. Travel to Sri Lanka to work with wild elephants, go to Guatemala to help save sea turtles or visit Portugal to help rehabilitate injured wolves. These types of activities can enhance your problem-solving skills, as well as your ability to work as a part of a team.

  • Teach English abroad. In many countries overseas, underserved communities don’t have enough English teachers. Help improve children’s literacy by working side-by-side with a local teacher — and learn more about the local culture and customs at the same time. In addition, teaching can help you improve your communication skills.

This is just a handful of the types of activities you can engage in to acquire new skills and hone existing ones. You can also go on a mountain trek to test your endurance and problem-solving skills, work with refugees to develop your cultural sensitivity and work on a conservation project to learn more about the environment. But whatever activity you choose, make sure it’s one you’ll enjoy — it’s still your vacation, after all!