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What your passport can teach your resume Why traveling after getting your degree may have you soaring above your flightless competition

next best thing in your already fabulous life. An exceedingly common fork in the road that many young women find them- selves staring at, is the difficult travel-or-work debate. Many people are under the


impression that travelling can actually be dangerous to the dream career they’ve aspired to since day one of college. Tey tell themselves that it will leave a questionable gap in their re- sume, or will leave them in the dust behind those who have chosen to get straight to work. Yet you must ask yourself…

Could it actually be possible to have the best of both worlds? Here are some reasons why

o you’ve finished your education and have some spare time on your hands, or maybe you are just on the hunt for the

employer that you have put some very seri- ous thought into your life, where you are now, and where you want to go. Furthermore, being a young

The Corporate Climb

Laura Wittig

including travel experience in your cover letters and interviews may actually have you soaring above your flightless competition. Why you should get on that plane

Travelling abroad is an example of “real

life” experience You can get as many A-pluses or gold stars

in your education as you want, but these primarily exhibit your skills to learn from a classroom or a textbook. As qualified as your 4.0 grade point average may make you, it is only half the puzzle. Knowing that you are courageous enough to try new things, and ambitious enough to fly halfway across the world for a year of your life, sends a strong message about your personality. Interviewers are likely pretty tired of get-

ting the same answers about how someone has managed to “lead their group to success- fully making a tight deadline,” to prove you can work well under stress. While of course you have to still use some examples that are job or industry specific for the position that you are applying for, why not tell them about the time you managed to calmly reroute your train tickets when you found yourself in the wrong foreign country at 3:00 am and didn’t speak the language. Now THAT’S a stressful situation. It also shows your ability to think outside the box, and apply your experiences to a variety of situations. You care about you

Making the decision to travel for a year Find out what your passport can do for you. You just might be surprised.

is a pretty tough one to make. Some of the decisions and experiences that you choose to have while travelling will also be tough. Employers are typically looking for someone who is going to be a hardworking, devoted and hopefully long-term employee. Having already made these decisions shows your

women and travelling alone or in a small group can be a terri- fying, but also hugely empow- ering, experience. With every country you conquer and hostel you sleep in, you will gain con- fidence and meet fascinating new people. What better way to develop your communica- tion and leadership skills than to practice abroad? Employers who are serious about invest- ing in you will be impressed by the fact that you have taken the time to thoughtfully invest in yourself. You will broaden your net- work exponentially

Being an extrovert and having excel-

lent people skills are often traits that are described as ‘very hard to teach’. Why not develop these skills by putting yourself in a situation where you are constantly meet- ing new people, hearing new stories, and telling your own story? Not only does travel experience have a great reputation for pull- ing people out of their shells (and comfort zones), it helps you empathize with and advise others who are in similar situations. Te added bonus to all of this is that dur- ing your travels, you will meet people from all over the world - other backpackers in your hostel, local business owners and tour guides who have seen it all. What better way to experience people from diverse cultural backgrounds – and to see how they interact and conduct business - than to see it first- hand. Not only is it a real eye opener, but in today’s globalized world, this far-reaching experience and multi-national networking will very likely come in handy in your busi- ness life one day as well. Apply these skills to your career & blow

your employer away Travelling the world will teach you new

skills (and polish old ones!) that will come in handy in your professional life. You will learn things about yourself, and become more confident and experienced in the process. If you can properly articulate, apply and present these skills and experiences to your potential employers, chances are they will be blown away. All in all, taking some time to travel

(whether it is a month or a year) is expen- sive, bold, and sometimes scary and nerve- wracking. Tis being said, I have yet to meet one person who regrets doing it.

Te first key to financial independence - take responsibility for it.

nancial Consumer Agency of Canada). Financial literacy can ensure that you only buy the protection you need. And the basics of investing are quite simple with some fundamentals. Knowing enough, having confidence enough, to be able to take responsibility for your own financial decisions begins with understanding the financial business. Professional or salesman?

F You will still need to interact with finan-

cial advisors to pursue your financial goals. Many financial planners are knowledgeable and dedicated and really do care about their clients. Unfortunately, many are not. Some 90,000 people sell financial products. Most are paid on commission. Tey have to be pushy, and sell you as much of whatever they can. It is a tough business to make a living, with high turnover. Some financial compa- nies recruit anyone with a pulse, sell them the “opportunity” to get rich, teach them some sales pitches, then let them loose on you. You may have already met one of those. Only about one in three “financial advi- sors” is in the business as a vocation, to

December 2015

inancial Literacy is having the knowl- edge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions (Fi-

build a professional practice. Tese belong to a professional association, subscribe to a code of ethics, carry errors & omissions insurance and are committed to continu- ing education. When you do get a sales approach, check if they meet these professional standards. What about regulations? You may think the Big

Brother of government regu- lators is going to protect you from unscrupulous salesmen. There is a hodge-podge of some fifty agencies that “protect” you as a financial consumer; each province has their own for insurance and for securities. Teir main function is to license sales people through qualification exams. Annual license renewal requires continuing education credits, usually obtained from financial company sales seminars. Tese regulatory requirements do ensure

the consumer that even the “salesmen” in the business do meet a basic knowledge requirement. Tese exams are not easy and the study material is comprehensive. At least you will know that when you are over-

sold inappropriate products, the salesman did know what he was doing! Regulators cannot protect

you if you chose to do your financial planning by “blind faith” in the pitch of a smooth talking salesman who sounds so sincere. If you chose to be a sheep, you are sure to get fleeced, whatever the regula- tions. Take responsibility for your own choices and it will be a lot harder for the school

yard bully to take advantage of you. You may have to do more on your own

anyway. In the interest of consumer protec- tion and disclosure, some jurisdictions have banned commission compensation and im- posed a statutory fiduciary duty obligation. Many advisors leave the business due to the costs of compliance, and all the paperwork. Tat cost forces the rest to focus on higher net worth clients, where more revenue on larger sales can compensate for the added cost. Tat leaves the rest of us relying on Google for our financial advice. Only you have the big picture

The value proposition in using an in-

dependent financial advisor is that they can take a holistic view of your needs. In practice, financial advisors tend to special- ize in either the protection side (insurance products) or the money side (investment products) - there is more money to be made in the money side. Both sides are complex and require the advisor to invest time and effort in knowing the products, as well as in developing their sales skills to keep eat- ing. Te majority will be too busy trying to make a living to really be an expert in all the products available. Your advisor may have been giving good advice on the money side, but has she been neglecting your needs on the protection side? Only you have the truly holistic picture of your own needs. You need to risk manage your income

during your earning years and risk man- age your investments that will provide your income after Work Ends. A degree of finan- cial literacy will actually make you a more attractive client to the truly professional financial advisors you will need. Fredrick Petrie, navigator, and author of

THE END OF WORK: financial planning for people with better things to do. Available at McNally Robinson, Grant Park, or on Kindle at Amazon.

Smart Biz 7

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