careers advice from behind your shades

Back at work the summer holiday is but a memory. But what do those holiday cliches teach you about your career? Quite a lot, actually.

by Lindsay Narey

Great news, autumn’s here! That season which likes to call time on your holidays, and fancies itself as something of an official landmark for going back to work/school/college.  

Whilst this might be an exciting prospect for some (students - I remember Freshers’ Week), for others the thought of a return to the office may sound a deafening klaxon of doom.  If you’d been feeling stuck in a career rut before your holiday, chances are you’ll feel a whole lot worse when you get back from a week or fortnight of gorging yourself on olives and ouzo.

I’m guessing if you’ve read this far you’re now feeling considerably worse? Don’t worry, I have no intention of leaving you in a pit of gloom.  What I want to do is show how your time in the sun might have actually taught you something about careers, whether you’re looking for something new, or just want to make the most of what you do now.

All being well, whilst on your travels you will have managed to unwind and switch off from anything remotely associated with your 9 to 5.  Whether or not you realised it at the time however,  the people you encountered at the airport, the hotel, by the pool, on the beach, and those you sneakily observed from behind your shades each had their own bit of careers advice for you.  

Anyone who’s experienced a laid back poolside loafing holiday should find these characters pretty familiar:

The extremely sunburnt person: Found by pools and on beaches, the man who has seared the outline of his vest onto his torso, or the woman sporting a pink and white bikini strap trellis work on her back.  

What the extremely sunburnt person teaches you: Preparation and consistency.  Had these people applied their sun cream a little more regularly and kept out of the rays between 11 and 3 they may be looking less like rashers of bacon.  They obviously didn’t set out to get burnt, so if you really want to achieve something career-wise don’t let things slip, keep up the momentum, stick with your good intentions, and you’ll avoid unintended consequences.

The travel rep: Anyone travelling on a package trip would have been assigned a cheerful, knowledgeable uniformed person to cater for your every need and to ensure you have the best possible time.  Oh yes, and sell you excursions.  Lots of very expensive excursions.  

What the travel rep teaches you: Determination and persistence.  How many times have they delivered the same spiel? But how well did they convince you that jeep safari adventure or sunset cruise was totally unique and you absolutely won’t have done this ever before?  How much cash did you hand over? So why not apply the same to your own career search, you may have done it time and time before, but don’t give up.  Believe in your ability and it might just pay off.

The crazy Dad - can be found almost permanently in the pool, hurling his own and any other random children across the water much to their high pitched whooping delight. He is living proof that ambushing someone with a water pistol never stops being hilarious.

What crazy Dad teaches you: To have fun and be creative. Whilst careers can be a serious business, don’t be afraid to actually enjoy what you do, and if you don’t, do something about it.  

The ex-pats: Running their bar or restaurant by the sea, or enjoying the villa they dreamed of owning all their lives, they’ve said goodbye to the UK and made a new life in the sun.  Tanned, perma grinning, and possibly the most relaxed people you will ever meet.  

What the ex-pats teach you: To take a risk and try something new.  The same goes for your career.  Why not enter less criteria on job website search engines and be inspired by what comes up, move out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.

Airports queue woman: Here’s a simple calculation - airports plus popular destinations plus peak holiday time equals large queues.  Woman stood next to me, why you’re trying to engage me in eye-rolling and agreeing with your stating of the obvious need to open more check-in desks, I will never understand.

What airport queue woman teaches you: To see what’s right in front of you.  Sometimes things are really obvious and they do need to be said to make you realise.  So whilst queue woman may be irritating she teaches you to use your take another look at your contacts and the resources you already have to see how they can help you.  Is there an opportunity your current role staring you in the face? Take a closer look and you might find out.

The barman pouring you insane measures of unidentified spirits.  This man is just trying to get you drunk.  He teaches you nothing.

So if you were lucky enough to get away this year, maybe look at your holiday snaps a little more carefully.  Who are those people lurking in the background? Did they have any careers lessons for you?  

Lindsay Narey is a communications officer at Nottinghamshire Probation Trust.