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Enhance your degree: How travelling while studying can boost your career

If you’re not sure whether you want to launch straight into university studies or jump on a plane to travel the world, it can feel like a life-altering choice to make.

Don’t be concerned future employers will think you’re a slacker if you take a year or so out to explore the world. The skills, perspectives and connections formed overseas can give you a better idea of who you really are, and what you’d like to do with your life.

Of course, there’s another main option, and that’s to use your university studies as the impetus to travel. Take the opportunity to study abroad or simply organise your own adventures during one of your uni breaks.

Learn more about yourself by getting out of your comfort zone

For globetrotting Deakin graduate Ben Campbell, his wanderlusting ways didn’t begin in earnest until after he graduated his PR degree — then took off to wing it in his first professional job as a lecturer in marketing at a Chinese university.

Since then Ben has worked in Sweden, Denmark (at Lego, no less), Melbourne and he recently began a new role as chief strategy officer at a media agency in Norway.

The 32-year-old, speaking via WhatsApp on a minus 8-degree day in Oslo, says there’s no question travel has helped shape his career so far.

‘I think what travel does – even if it’s personal travel – it definitely opens your eyes. I think in some industries it helps you work out how the real world works,’ Ben says. ‘It takes you out of your bubble and your comfort zone and everything you thought was right.’

Ben says that before he went to university, travelling the world was definitely not on his radar.

‘I grew up in Geelong and I never actually had been on a plane until I was 21. We were exceptionally poor and I just snuck into university — it was just potluck,’ he says.

‘I was never interested. I think when you come from a certain background, you’re in survivalism, and you don’t think about expanding those horizons.’

'I think what travel does – even if it’s personal travel – it definitely opens your eyes. I think in some industries it helps you work out how the real world works.'

Ben Campbell,
Graduate, Deakin University

How travelling can open doors in your career

Luke Seacombe, Deakin’s senior coordinator of global student mobility (outbound), says travelling is definitely something that gives you an edge.

‘There are no negative effects on your career from travel or studying abroad. It is actually something that will separate you from other students when applying for a job,’ Seacombe says.

He says travelling can help you develop your confidence, give you space to think or even allow you to dabble in a few different careers without any outside pressure during a working holiday.

Travel is also a big win when it comes to developing ‘soft skills’ that will be handy in virtually any future career, such as teamwork, communication, problem solving and adaptability.

But more than anything, the experience opens your eyes and encourages you to vastly broaden your horizons, Seacombe says. ‘The world is more than your little bubble and stepping out of that will open up so many doors and paths that you didn’t consider or realise existed.’

To study or travel: Why not do both?

Personally, Seacombe recommends enrolling in university after high school, rather than taking a gap year, because he says there are so many options available to travel while studying.

‘It really is a great way of enhancing a degree,’ Seacombe says. When you travel as part of your university studies, you get an international experience, while still earning credit towards your degree. This means you won’t extend your time at university like you would if you took time off to travel.

‘If you are going to spend three years doing a degree, you may as well make it the most exciting three years possible, and what’s more exciting than studying six months in Japan and then six months in Denmark, for instance?

‘Studying electives will allow a student to study a topic outside of their degree in nearly any part of the world and have a truly life-changing experience.’

As for Ben Campbell, who has a Norwegian partner, his time overseas has given him not only professional satisfaction — but also the opportunity to immerse himself in different experiences, ways of life and languages.

‘It’s all been an evolution,’ he says. ‘I like to think we are the sum of all these individual experiences we have abroad. Eventually you just become this mash of a human with all of these cultures squeezed together.’

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Luke Seacombe
Luke Seacombe

Senior Coordinator of Global Student Mobility (outbound), Deakin University

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