By Sandip Samra, Communications Coordinator at LSE Careers:
Deciding where to go
Whilst I was at university I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do once I graduated so I concentrated on my studies and hoped I’d figure it out after. Once I finished my postgraduate studies, I decided to have a short break having been in full-time education most of my life. I wanted to make the most of this break though and gain some new experiences.
I’ve always wanted to travel and I decided on China having met lots of people from there during my postgraduate course, many of whom I now count amongst my best friends. This also worked well because I was able to combine it with my interest in teaching English as a foreign language. After some very thorough searches on the internet, I found a good summer internship programme. Of course money is a factor when considering where you can travel and for how long so I worked part-time to save up.
Travelling and working abroad
Through travelling I was able to sight-see, try speaking a different language, and immerse myself in another culture. And although some things were very different from home, and sometimes difficult to see or experience, it was so important to experience because it enabled me to challenge and present my own views but also challenge and accept other people’s. This is obviously a vital part of everyday exchanges but also working life, and having this ability also helps boost your employability.
Though by no means essential, travelling is also great if you want to work internationally or you go into an internationally focused role or industry/sector which requires engagement with people from lots of different places and/or cultures. With such a diverse student body, my current work for LSE Careers definitely fits with this.
Combining travelling and working abroad was also useful becauseit prepared me for the world of full-time work – I taught 16-18 year old High School students with five lessons per day over six days of the week which is quite full on!
The students I taught generally had a good standard of English, but it did vary a lot within the class. This was challenging but in a really great way because it makes you think about how you communicate. You learn simple and universally applicable things like making yourself understood the first time by speaking clearly and thinking of what you say before you say it, to more complex skills like being able to stand in front of a room and present ideas and get people interested and involved.
Finding the right job
I was worried about how going abroad for longer than a few weeks would impact on my time to complete applications, as well as employers’ willingness to interview or hire me. However, this worked in my favour because having a passion for/interest in something, taking on a new challenge, and being willing to work towards it helped me stand out. And if you’re the person for the job, lots of employers will often be willing to wait for you.
I went through a difficult recruitment process for my first job after graduating, with an assessment centre including a group interview, a series of tests, and a panel interview. I was then asked back for a presentation and another interview during which I was able to not only use my experiences to demonstrate my employability, but also develop rapport with future colleagues through them.
The whole experience made me realise the career path I’d been thinking about was right for me because I enjoy interacting with people, thinking about different audiences, and keeping them engaged in different ways. I really love my current job, I still want to do communications as much as I did when I graduated, and I don’t think I would be on this career path or doing this work without my experience of travelling.