By Taylor Chartier
“This one time, in Cancun…” Some travel tales are better left unsaid when speaking to potential employers. My “collegiette travel” included, but was not limited to…whatever it is freshmen do in Cancun, taking a much needed Bahamavention, and playing in Playa Del Carmen. I came home with killer tan lines but not much to make my resume stand out.
I graduated in 2009 with a solid GPA and internships at Keds, Neiman Marcus and Hill Holliday under my vintage leopard belt. As I began interviewing I felt perfectly comfortable talking about my ability to work well in a team, think entrepreneurially, and (begrudgingly) use SPSS. Acutely missing, though, was the confidence and understanding that can only come through intensive traveling. While one-third of my undergrad class was international and I worked incredibly close with peers that became dear friends from all over the world, I was never naïve enough to think that I completely understood where they were coming from. Literally. Surely they were affected by American cultural norms and, not for lack of desire but from pure experience, I had trouble differentiating the nuances between cultures. I was honest with myself and recognized that my international knowledge was limited to the confines of my wardrobe, epicurean habits, and news clips from the B.B.C. Whenever the topic of travel or other international matters came up in conversation I’d clamor up, make a joke, or quickly change the subject. Not ideal.
Travel void aside, I’ve landed two marketing maven roles. I began my career at the word-of-mouth marketing leader BzzAgent, and have since happily transitioned to my dream job at Her Campus. In my hybrid role of account services and business development, I have worked with the likes of West Elm, Bing and PINK. I was lucky enough to partner with Contiki this winter, kicking off a year-long promotional partnership that commenced by reviewing a tour of my choice. As part of my Mediterranean Highlights tour, I was able to get a taste for Spain, France, Monaco and Italy during a two-week adventure. Moreover, I met and bonded with ‘mates’ (as the Aussies say) from South Africa, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia.
Having been lucky enough to go on this epic tour of the Mediterranean with fifty-two 18-35- year-olds, I now truly understand that beyond being an incredible time, travelling to Europe was an investment in my role as an employee both at Her Campus and beyond. With an increasingly diverse workforce, I am thankful that I was able to see and learn from others during my tour. Most striking was the stark difference in work-life balance as compared to America. I was shocked to see that Europeans really embody the ‘work to live’ mentality. I had a hunch, but it was not until I got far away from home that I came to see that my counterparts in the States have clearly taken the ‘live to work’ path, trudging through entry-level jobs at agencies and long hours in private equity and accounting. While I used to feel guilty about a 15 minute ‘Dunkin run they think nothing of three-hour siestas. Simple things, too, like sitting fees at restaurants, smaller, more utilitarian accommodations and socialist ideals around job opportunities further opened my eyes to the fact that there are (gasp) other ways to live. Since returning home from my Contiki tour I find that I am more open minded and grounded than ever, and look forward to continuing to grow both personally and, moreover, professionally.
With incredible group rates, varying trip lengths from 3 days to 6 weeks, and dynamic tours in 46 countries, I really wish I had wiped off my Chanel sunglasses and seen Europe through Contiki years ago. Strictly for the sake of my resume, of course.