When You Volunteer Abroad, Keep An Online Travel Journal To Get Hired
There’s no doubt that the Great Recession has affected millions of Americans resulting in an unemployment rate of almost 9 percent nation wide, and if you are a young person the news only gets worse. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) “young people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as the average worker…youth unemployment rates in the OECD are expected to remain at around 18% in 2011 and 17% in 2012".
As a young adult, I am one of the many who understands the fear and uncertainty that college graduation is bringing to many students now in their senior year or whom have recently graduated. Instead of feeling like you have an exciting road ahead of you with the possibility of many open doors into a career, graduation is now a daunting milestone that seems to lead to a period of prolonged unemployment. Just so you know you are not alone, here is what some other recent grads are saying about their job search experiences in a group on Facebook:
“Frankly guys I’m also really pissed off! I have 5 years work experience all part time whilst I did my undergrad and Masters and still I can't get anything. I know the economy isn’t great right now but seriously, I'm being rejected for being overqualified for some jobs and under-qualified for others. Phew. Just needed to rant.”
“I understand... I was turned down as a secretary for not having 5 yrs experience as a secretary, and by McDonalds because they figured out I have a BA. I feel like my BA is my dirty little secret...”
“No luck so far with jobs, I’m working at my local to get some cash in and it looks like I’m gonna be there forever :(“
That’s why when GoAbroad.com started a special blog series focused on young people entitled “Discover Your Value” it caught our eye here at GeoVisions. If you are in college, or are a young person still searching for a job we recommend you follow it, which you can find here at GoAbroad. In this series, guest author Michael Edmondson, Ph.D., outlines the three main issues college students or recent grads face, and ways you can stand out and market yourself to your best ability. There isn’t a magic number of jobs to apply for, or tips for interviewing, just finding ways to show potential employers how great you are and what makes you unique from the average grad.
One way you can do this is through self –promotion, and if you have studied, volunteered or worked abroad you have an advantage over many others. Dr. Edmondson points out that you are not special until you convince others, and to gain perspective on what this means, students should travel abroad to experience various locations, cultures and adapt to different environments. This forces you to get out of your comfort zone and realize what makes you ‘special’. Hopefully while you are traveling abroad and finding out your unique strengths and attributes you are meticulously journaling or blogging about your experiences. Keeping everything in one place as opposed to random Facebook updates gives your unique experience more credibility (not to mention staying organized makes it easy to refer back to).
This brings us to another tip by Dr. Edmondson, and perhaps the simplest one of all (and cheapest) is to use technology! The Internet, especially a social networking site is your best friend after you have become all the wiser from your traveling and should be used for effective self-promotion within the online community. Be creative, give yourself an edge and connect with like-minded people who have the same goals as you. Even better if you can network within the field you wish to enter as your career, and having an organized online journal or blog can sure come in handy if a potential employer wants to see a writing sample or a detailed insight from your traveling experience.
GeoVisions has recently developed (with the help of our friends at GoAbroad) an online social networking site for our volunteers that we call our ‘GeoVisions Community Pages Site’. You can take a look at it here. Volunteers participating on our programs can connect with each other; upload photos, videos, and keep a travel journal all in one place while connecting with other like-minded travelers. The site also allows for them to sync their information with other social networking sites such as Facebook or Myspace so they can share their experiences with other friends and family.
So, before you decide to throw in the towel or settle on a menial job you definitely didn’t go to school for, try out these simple tips and see how they work. A little creativity can go a long way, and c’mon, who doesn’t like to write down all the ways that make you awesome and unique? If it doesn’t result in your dream job, at least you’ve given your resume a pick-me-up and your self-confidence.