This is a guest post by Rachel Montpelier of NextStepU. When we think of traveling, we normally imagine relaxation, fun and a temporary escape from the real world. So it might be surprising to learn that traveling is actually a great networking opportunity for high school students.
Everyone will tell you that going to new places will broaden your horizons. And that means — in addition to new opinions and perspectives — going on vacation can also influence your future education and career trajectory.
For example, I grew up in a very small town and most of my graduating class went to one of the four colleges within a thirty mile radius. All of these colleges were also in very small towns. I might have been one of them if I had not traveled throughout my childhood. And I’m not only talking about going on European vacations (although those would ensure that I wanted to continue traveling in college).
I live right on the border of Canada, so I’ve been to Ottawa and Montreal many times. I was exposed to a different culture and had the opportunity to apply to a completely different education system. I did not end up attending McGill University in Montreal like my dad always joked I would. But I knew it existed and knew about its teaching philosophy, just because I traveled.
Having wanderlust does not just help you discover various colleges. It exposes you to all sorts of career paths that you may never have really considered. In other words, you might never hear about the perfect job for you if you never leave your comfort zone.
When I was 15 I traveled by myself to New York City to visit some family. I planned on seeing a Broadway show but — just my luck — the stagehands’ union had organized a strike during my visit. Before that trip, I had never thought about anyone besides the actors on Broadway. They would not have curtains, props, special effects, microphones or lighting without the stagehands. While I am definitely not the person to fill this type of role, one of you might be. If you are interested in technology, audio and visual effects and using state-of-the-art equipment, Broadway (or another place) is waiting for you. But you will never discover that job opportunity if you don’t explore new surroundings.
What I just described to you sounds like various adventure and coincidences, right? Well, they are also networking opportunities. I needed to travel to discover other places to go to school and other jobs that would never be available in a town of 15,000 people. I found out that a Canadian university and a technological job were not for me. But traveling to these cities showed me that I wanted to leave my hometown and experience a bigger, more diverse place in the world. It might not sound like conventional networking, but traveling is one of the best favors you can do for yourself during high school.
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