Why Quitting and Hitting the Road Was the Best Career Decision I’ve Made
Today’s guest post is from Sharon Tewksbury-Bloom, who served with Youth In Action AmeriCorps in 2007
On February 1st, 2011, my boyfriend Jay and I gave up the life we had built in northern Virginia and drove south, entering a new adventure and a new chapter in our lives. We managed to get lost within the first two hour stretch which set a pace for the rest of the trip — getting lost and finding our way over and over again.
We set off for a year on the road for many reasons, but it basically boiled down to a choice about how we wanted to live our lives. Although we were both working good jobs in northern Virginia, we did not like living in such a populated area, far from the trails and mountain vistas that we loved in the West. We considered just applying for jobs in western towns and hoping for an opportunity to make a career shift, but it’s very difficult to learn about jobs and network from across the country. Also, we weren’t sure what part of the country we wanted to settle down in. A road trip seemed like a great way to get to know potential homes. By volunteering along the way we also got to know potential places to work, learn new skills, and keep our resumes current.
Through volunteer work, networking, and blogging about our experiences (http://servicedriven.org), we were more in touch with people in our field than ever before. As we approached a year on the road we still had no idea where we would live and work. In a moment of serendipitous road magic, the program manager for the AmeriCorps program I had served in had been reading our blog and called me up, offering me a temporary job. The position would start February 1, 2012, exactly one year after we left Virginia. My experiences planning a long trip, finding volunteer opportunities in communities all over the U.S. and Canada, and writing about it every week, were invaluable to me and have helped me directly in my new job.
Are you thinking about taking a career break? A great resource is Meet, Plan, Go: http://meetplango.com/. A few resources for volunteering along your travels are: The Muskoka Foundation (http://dogoodasyougo.org/) and Volunteer Card (http://www.volunteercard.com/blog/).
For more on Sharon’s experience, please visit http://servicedriven.org/.