8 travel skills that translate perfectly to the workplace

Living abroad keeps you on your toes. The entire experience is challenging because you’ve got to pay more attention than normal to get through your day successfully. Adjusting to a new public transportation system, grocery shopping, and traveling are all harder when done in a foreign country and in a foreign language. Small tasks can be cumbersome and take far more emotional and brain energy than you could ever imagine. That’s what makes living abroad such a rewarding experience. Facing these challenges makes you a stronger and more competent professional because the skills that you gain are also essential workplace skills.


8 essential workplace skills that you pick up while traveling

1. Keeping your cool under pressure

The whole point of living abroad is doing something that you’ve never done before. That means trying something new and essentially faking it until you make it. Learning how to go with the flow and appear as if you’re completely unfazed, when in reality your heart is racing, will serve you well in business negotiations, job interviews, client presentations and more.


2. Adaptability

You have to become a chameleon when you’re abroad. You’re learning how to think on your feet and adapt to new situations and contexts. This skill is also highly valued in a professional setting. Knowing how to quickly adapt to a new situation or challenge at the office is what makes you a valuable professional that people will want on their team for negotiations and special projects.


essential workplace skills


3. Non-verbal communication skills

Going abroad to a country where you don’t speak the native language always strains communication. The cultural and language differences can make it difficult to communicate. That’s why you have to learn ways to express yourself outside of language, using universal types of non-verbal communication.


4. Logistics and planning

Planning day trips and days discovering your destination city will test your logistics and planning skills. It takes solid coordination abilities to organize an outing in a new city when you’re trying to see as much as possible with a group of people.


5. Active listening

We all are a little listening challenged, aren’t we? Some experts say that we only remember 25% to 50% of what we listen to. That won’t fly at an internship abroad, where you are trying to adapt to a new culture, understand your intern responsibilities and potentially learn a foreign language. Practicing active and attentive listening abroad will make you a more attentive and understanding professional, as well as a more effective communicator.


essential workplace skills


6. Multicultural competency

Understanding how stereotypes have an impact on how we perceive culture is an important part of getting past those stereotypes to begin with. In any workplace you’re going to encounter people with different backgrounds and beliefs. Not letting prejudices or differences get in the way of working well together is part of being a dependable professional.


7. Getting comfortable being uncomfortable

One skill that many young professionals hone while abroad is learning how to become comfortable on the outside, when on the inside you really aren’t sure what’s going on. The art of keeping calm and being quick on your feet is crucial in many different professions. And more so than just acting comfortable, it’s important to also let discomfort become part of your norm. A lot of jobs are going to push you to places outside your comfort zone. The less resistant you are to that, the more success you will have.


8. Problem-solving abilities

Being abroad presents problems and speed bumps that demand that you think on your feet. Figuring out how to get from point A to point B or how to explain what you want for lunch in a language that you don’t speak requires critical thinking and the ability to find solutions. These skills are incredibly useful in any professional context. There will always be problems that need solutions at the office.


To gain all of these essential workplace skills, apply today for an international internship


Sources: life experience

Photo 1. based on Travel, by Global Panorama, CC-by-SA 2.0

Photo 2. based on KLUA6254_S, by Konrad Lembcke, CC-by-ND 2.0

Photo 3. based on Multicultural, by Col Ford and Natasha de Vere, CC-by-2.0


The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

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Elizabeth Trovall

After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her fourth year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.
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