Tag: California

How to explain gaps in your resume because of travel

I have over 15 versions of my resume on my hard-drive. Being on-the-go full-time for 4 years was an incredible experience, but I am not independently wealthy. I had to work along the way to finance my travels. Many of those jobs were in the hospitality industry which exist worldwide.

My experience is all over the map. Depending on the job I was looking to get, I usually had some explaining to do.

Here’s a version of my current resume:

Resume Jillian Blog

As you can see, my experience is literally all over the board. It starts in Illinois, takes me to Hawaii (two different islands, now living on a third), back to the mainland in California, to Colorado and Wyoming. This doesn’t even account for a year I spent on the east coast in Philadelphia or my gap year where I traveled to Australia and Thailand.

Typical reactions I’ve received:

1. Why all the moving?

2. Hawaii? Why would you ever leave there?

3. What’s in Wyoming?

4. Looks like you’ve had a lot of fun! (This one I like!)

5. If I hire you, you aren’t just going to up and move again are you?

In my years of trying to get jobs and interviewing with every personality type you can think of, I’ve devised a way to make my travels work to my advantage. I want my prospective employer to see my frequent moves as as positive, not a negative.

Just to let you know, more than half the time, there is a stigma in the professional world when it comes to frequent travel. Some employers might let on that they think it’s cool and they wish they could travel. Some more positive interviews I’ve been on, owners and interviewers actually recount their travels with a gleam in their eye: they “get it.” I’ve actually got my job in southern California by just walking in the restaurant and handing my resume to the owner. My travels and world experience impressed him so much, he wanted me on the team. He was a world traveler himself and knew firsthand how travel makes you a more well-rounded employee.

I loved my bosses at my job in Southern Cali. I was able to taste and help order wine, eat cheese and photograph for the local newspaper!
I loved my bosses at my job in Southern Cali. I was able to taste and help order wine, eat cheese and photograph for the local newspaper!

More often than not though, people in the “real-world” are usually in a bubble. They can’t understand why you would choose to live in a jungle in Hawaii or still can’t comprehend WHAT, exactly, Wyoming has to offer. It becomes a little exhausting explaining myself to people, but hey, I DO need a job after all!

Many of my jobs have been “seasonal.” Many people I talk to don’t even know that seasonal jobs on the mainland exist. A seasonal job is one that lasts for just that, the season.A great resource for seasonal jobs is Coolworks.com. You work a summer in Yellowstone National Park, then the job ends. Then you work a winter in the Colorado Rockies at one of the ski resorts, then come April, that job ends. It’s a great way to see beautiful places all over the country while making money. It requires frequent travel, interviewing and job hunting for your next gig.

Why WOULDN'T I take a job in Wyoming where I can explore Yellowstone National Park on my days off??
Why WOULDN’T I take a job in Wyoming where I can explore Yellowstone National Park on my days off??

Making the leap OUT of the seasonal world causes you to encounter employers who don’t understand the seasonal lifestyle and wonder why you’re a vegabond that can’t hold down a job. For those people, you have your work cut out for you.

Here are some tips to get you through an interview where you have to explain gaps in your resume because of travel:

1. Make travel seem essential: When someone starts the conversation, “Why all the moving?” that doesn’t exactly sound like the most welcoming invitation to hear about my galavanting. In fact, it sounds like a threat, like they’re standing arms crossed waiting to judge my response. I found that the most effective way to soften up my interviewer is to make the strong argument that travel was essentially required for my jobs.

My response: Because the hospitality industry is world-wide, opportunities, often better opportunities, are presented to hospitality professionals who are willing to relocate. I don’t have any children and find it easy to take promotions and new positions in new locations. Plus, I have a Journalism degree, so on the side I’m a travel writer. I’ve been published in The Huffington Post, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer and more. I wouldn’t be able to pursue my writing or advance my career if I didn’t take new jobs all over the country.

These publishing bragging rights didn't exactly come from sitting on my butt in my hometown
These publishing bragging rights didn’t exactly come from sitting on my butt in my hometown

2. Highlight the positives of travel and how it translates to “real world” experience: I always get the question in an interview along the lines of: “Tell me about a time where you couldn’t get along with or see eye to eye with a fellow employee. How did you handle the situation?” When you travel the country or the world, you’ve probably problem-solved your way out of some gnarly situations with all types of personalities. Use this to your advantage!

My response: (Start off with a specific anecdote). When you travel as much as I do, you are presented with unique problems in which you have to solve in order to survive. You meet a variety of different personalities from all over the world. I’ve become really good at reading people and getting along with others from all walks of life. Travel has opened my mind to different ways of living and respecting others’ opinions and ways of doing things. I believe my experience leads me to be an excellent team player with an open mind who is focused on nothing more than solving the task at hand quickly and efficiently.

3. Don’t be afraid to talk about your experiences: It’s pretty obvious that you’ve traveled based on your resume. There’s no reason to hide behind a wall of shame. You should be proud that you’ve been able to organize a life where you’ve been able to achieve individual goals. Highlight that. All travelers, especially solo travelers, are self-starting individuals who are smart, savvy and usually great leaders.

During my tenure as a hospitality manager at a tropical agriculture farm. I managed bookings, reservations, managed volunteer work shifts and more!
During my tenure as a hospitality manager at a tropical agriculture farm, I managed bookings, reservations, lead volunteer work shifts and more!

4. When in doubt, turn the conversation around: If the specific job you’re looking at doesn’t involve travel one bit and the person interviewing you is looking at you practically dumb-founded, chances are this isn’t the right job for you anyway. In order not to thwart an opportunity, take the time to interview your interviewer. A lot of people fall in the trap of thinking an interview is all about drilling a candidate. Make sure you ask questions and interview the company. You need to know that this is the right fit for you, after all. Here are some sample questions I like to ask when it’s time to take the focus off myself:

a. What is your company culture like here?

b. What benefits do you offer your employees?

c. How does your company invest in the health and wellness of your employees?

d. What do you like about working here?

Letter d almost always puts the interviewer and I on a level playing field. I love asking that question! It usually catches my interviewer off-guard and makes them ponder, usually rather uncomfortably, what they like about working at said company. I get to sit back, smile, relax and learn about their experience and gauge whether or not this company is the right fit for me.

Overall, I’m not afraid to ask the hard questions during an interview. I’ve had so many jobs that I know what I’m looking for in a position. Travel has led me to experience many different work cultures, some excellent, some bad, and I’m able to read a company’s vibe pretty well during an interview.

The point is, don’t be scared to interview just because you have a non-traditional resume. Chances are the right person will come along and see your world experience as a huge asset. That is the person you want to be working for anyway: someone who recognizes your talents and values that you care about personal growth and experience.

A day trip to Big Bear Lake

Currently Jonathan, Pono and I reside in southern California. Temecula is a cute 100,000 person or so town about 1 hour north of San Diego and is home to “wine country” and a burgeoning foodie scene. As we have gotten settled here and have gotten jobs, are days off have been few and far between.

Our most recent stretch of days off demanded that we explore the beautiful terrain of California. We drove up to Big Bear Lake, the California ski town, for a day of walking around, lunch and overall unwinding.

Just a two hour drive from Temecula, the scenery along the way was magnificent. Our route had us follow many different highways until we started snaking up the mountains of the San Bernardino National Forest.

The elevation of this stretch of national forest ranges but tops out around 11,000. It’s been quite a while since I have been up in the mountains, and the winding roads left me a little car sick, but not sick enough to pose for a photo op with my pup:

Roadtrip selfies
Roadtrip selfies

A few beautiful vistas along the way included:

DSCN0317

and:

What a range!
What a range!

Once we arrived in Bear Lake, we cruised around the sleepy, resorty town in search of some grub. We passed a few parks that still had snow on the hills, the residual winter sports fanatics taking one last run down the slope.  The lake was beautiful and expansive and is no doubt an oasis and playground in the summer months.

We parked in the downtown village area of Big Bear and enjoyed walking hand in hand past Indian trading posts, souvenir shops, antique boutiques, ice cream parlors, an arcade, home made jerky stands and a host of restaurants and bars. As you can imagine with any small town in California, or any ski town for the matter, the usual suspects hung around, strumming guitar for tips and coercing their fluffy dogs to stay out of the street. It was the type of place where dogs ran off leash, only to obey the commands of their owners. It felt nice and free.

We had lunch on the outdoor patio of Saucy Mama’s, clearly a good time to snap an appropriate and opportune photo. The food was good and I would recommend it to anyone. They also have 22 oz. drafts of some great Pale Ales and IPAs. I had to represent Chi-Town with a Goose Island Pale Ale.

My beau and his beer
My beau and his beer
A saucy mama at saucy mama's ;)
A saucy mama at saucy mama’s 😉

After lunch the rain rolled in an it was time to make a swift exit. I wish we could have stayed longer to explore more of the terrain an the lake, but the weather made it nearly impossible. Big Bear is a great escape for any Californian looking for that rustic charm and slower pace of life.

Winding road, take us home.
Winding road, take us home.

Life as I know it

I would like to say that I just got done traveling extensively this summer, but I’m sure part of landing in San Diego is part of my travels as well.

Part of me embarking on the road for so many years now has been to improve my travel writing and enrich my life with experiences. Ever since I left Chicago in 2010, I’ve been a lot of places and have seen a lot of things.

I signed up for a travel writing course through MatadorU, which sadly, I’m only 50 percent done with. Part of my goal of being in San Diego is to get back to working on my writing. In any case, when I first started the course, I was a little miffed over what to write about. I was a travel writer who didn’t travel. I had no idea what to talk about. How could I describe a scene from a faraway place if I hadn’t been to one?

In any case, that’s when I made the decision to travel more. Extensively, curiously, endlessly. Since then, I’ve been all over the place, but I haven’t done too much writing about it.

Since I’ve last updated, I spent the summer in Wyoming. I was shocked and surprised to end up there, but it was a beautiful summer. I was living IN the Shoshone National Forest, surrounded by amazing trees, wildlife, hiking opportunities, padding/rafting, and horseback riding.

Our backyard and playground
Our backyard and playground

Jon and I’s relationship is stronger than ever. We have been together a year now, and we also added a new addition to our family: Pono. He is a 1-year old Australian Shepherd mix who is completely high energy and the epitome of puppy. We love him.

I hate to say that I’ve been to busy to write, but it’s true. Yesterday and today were the first time I hadn’t left the house in months. We’re usually traveling around, letting the dog run around somewhere, connecting as sort of a family unit. I feel like for the first time in a long time, I have something to take care of besides me. I have a man and a pet. We go places and do things together and it fulfills me immensely.

This lil' guy
This lil’ guy

At the same time, I haven’t given up on my goals of writing. I want to tell you all of the amazing things I’ve seen and done. I want to explain to you what Stand Up Paddle Boarding the Snake River was like (somewhat terrifying, but invigorating!). I need to explain to you guys how lovely Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks are. I want to reminisce about driving cross-country 3 times in 3 months, the Badlands, Oregon, the coast of California. I still need to write about how I feel about Colorado.

The Grand Tetons
The Grand Tetons

There was a time when I felt frustrated with the mainland USA. I traveled abroad and lived in Hawaii for a year. It wasn’t until I got back and really saw America first hand (slow and intentionally) that I realized that is truly the best country and I’m proud of it. Jon and I drove through so many back roads, fished in rivers with no one around for miles, shared a river fishing experience with two juvenile grizzly bears. We watched the sunset over peaks of giant mountains and cruised on pristine lakes next to the most amazing mountains in the country. We’ve eaten our way around the U.S., trying to avoid the corporate McDonald’s road trip by eating local and finding the best food we could along the way.

Who are those little buggers?
Who are those little buggers?

Then we landed in Southern California, and that’s where we are now. For the first time in a while, we have a kitchen again. Our dog has a backyard to run around and we are nesting. It’s breezy and beautiful here. The seafood alone is great. I take a look at my life and sometimes wonder how it is that I got so lucky. How I get to travel and experience so many amazing, exotic, breathtaking moments. How I get to taste the best foods, live in the most amazing locales and have such a happy existence.

sushi
One of the better meals we’ve shared

It’s then I realize that I’m following my bliss. I opened my heart a long time ago, as scary as it was, and listened to my true desires. I wanted to expose myself naked to the world and experience. I didn’t care if would be good or bad, I wanted it. And boy, did I get it.

I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place now. I’m looking for work, somewhat desperately after spending a small fortune traveling so much. It’s back to the “real world” for now, but I vow to keep my travel memories alive by writing about them.

I finally pitched an article to a travel-zine which I haven’t made time for in over a year. I was putting it off, feeling anxious and reluctant. Then I thought about all of the incredible emotions I’ve experienced and the trips associated with them and wrote them down. And now, proudly, I can say that I have a travel repertoire. I am no longer scratching my head over what to write about. Now the hard part is which travel memory to write about. I guess that’s a first world problem.

It’s good to be back on the blog and good to stretch my fingers and my brain again. I look forward to putting some more of my thoughts out there, no matter if trivial, vain or enlightening. This is me. This is my life. And I’m going to share it.

Me and my little Pono, Badlands National Park
Me and my little Pono, Badlands National Park

The uncertainty of the travel flow

Traveling opened up about a million cans of awesome, and almost as many cans of worms.

This year alone has been my greatest success. I conquered continents. I traveled here, to there, to here and to there again.

A lot of people ask me, “What are you running away from?”

I like to answer, “It’s not a question of what I’m running away from, but what I’m running toward.

The line, though, my friends, becomes pretty blurred after months on end on the road.

I think I’m suffering from travel burnout.

Correction Sydney airport, home is where I lay my hat

Sounds like a pretty nice problem to have, huh?

Traveling is great and has afforded me some awesome opportunities. I burned my tongue silly on the hottest goddamn pepper in the world. I cuddled koalas in Australia, snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef (saw some sharks!), swam with dolphins, surfed wild waves, learned Hawaiian permaculture and enjoyed my fair share of California sunsets. I have juggled the most amazing friends and lovers all over the world.

I’ve seen things people only dream about. I woke up from a reality that I perceived to be my only way of life. Then I realized how much more there was out there to see. A dizzying amount of opportunities. How do you know which one is right?

Who is who?

Like I’ve decided earlier, I’m calling Hawaii my home. I’m in search of something more permanent. I loved meeting and creating contacts all over the world. I love having friends that I can stay with or call or share a memory with, but saying goodbye time and again has become so very difficult for me.

I think Anthony Bourdain said it best:

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

In Hawaii, I met some amazing, life-altering soul friends. We shared many philosophical conversations, resources, adventures, work life, the works. Leaving them was especially difficult. Are these people meant to come into our lives to make an impact forever? Certainly. How do I cope with feelings of greediness?  I want them all in my life always.

Part of my jungle family

I think it comes down to making decisions and following your heart. It was a difficult choice to leave home to travel in the first place. I remember after my going away party, I cried for hours wondering why forces were pulling me away from a comfy, lovely and perfectly wonderful support system: my family and friends. But cutting that cord offered me a million unique opportunities I would’ve never had otherwise.

Is that always the compromise? While traveling, I missed my family and friends and wished they could be with me. But I know that can’t be the case, because when I’m alone, I’m a free agent. I can re-invent myself somewhere totally different. I can go my own way without preconceived notions of who I was before. It sounds bizzare, but your reputation, even when it’s good, follows you and hinders you in some ways.

I’ve been able to let go and be completely me on the road, getting into shenanigans & cars with “strangers,” eating exotic foods in exotic locales, learning about things I might not have been exposed to before. That to me, was worth the pay off of leaving home.

Dragonfruit..tastes like a hot pink kiwi…who knew?

But now, the new experiences have become a bit daunting. Experiences end as quickly as the they began. New faces become old friends on Facebook in the matter of months, days even.

I’m ready to set up shop. I’m ready to set up a support network. I’m ready to hang up the vegabond hat for a while in search of the elusive dish-all over coffee or a beer best friend. I want a dog. Hell, I even want a partner. I want people I can look at at the end of the day, smile with and feel a piece of my heart and soul growing, rather than having to have it all torn away week to week, day to day.

C’mon, let’s share the view

After all, happiness is only real when shared.

How do you cope with the  travel blues?

Life as a full time traveler

I’ve been traveling full-time for almost eight months.

I’m humbled by all the experiences I’ve had. This has been the best year of my life in so many ways. My mind’s been opened to the big wild world, and it’s love, my friends.

Never thought this year would have me chillin’ with ‘roos

Couchsurfing around the world, camping on remote beaches and calling wherever I lay my hat my home has been the name of the game this year. But the time has come for me to go out and get me one of those J-O-Bs!

I’ve been lucky enough to travel extensively this year, taking time off from the grind to really concentrate on the next chapter of my life. As I went, I was able to scope out different living situations so that at the end of my year I could pick somewhere to live and settle in for a while.

From Philly, to Chicago, out west to L.A., San Francisco, Northern California, out to Australia and back, Portland and then Hawaii, I’ve seen a lot of places I’d love to call home for a while for a variety of reasons.

Where the road goes

But nothing was as special as Hawaii.

Like a good love, the islands swept me off my feet. I came and could hardly bare the thought of leaving right away to continue on my round-the-world trip. Coming here for a 2 week trip turned into a four-month travel-venture that leaves me wanting more.

home

After living in the rainforest for four months on east side of Big Island in Hawaii, I’m ready for an upgrade of awesomeness. My next chapter has me going back to the mainland to sell off some final things I left behind this year and transplant myself in Maui. The scene is burgeoning, the food is good and the jobs a lot more plentiful than Big Island.

I’m not ready to say goodbye to the islands. In fact, I just arrived. I’m stoked to see where my future lies here. I’ll continue to travel as much as possible.

I’m definitely not ready to hang up the old hat. Not yet. There’s just too much good world to take in. But for now, I’m going to stay on island time.

When the streets come alive

It’s a good sign when you end up having a Sunday afternoon that involves a leisurely stroll, a small nap under a tree, a slight breeze and a nearby street performer to coax you into ultimate relaxation mode.

Enjoy this video I captured of Charlie Cox, a long-time street performer at Hancock Park in Los Angeles near the Natural History Museum and The La Brea Tar Pits. If you’re lucky enough to catch him, make sure to ask him about his time performing, his days in the service and be sure to exchange kind words with him.

A Day at Seal Beach

I left my heart in California. It delivers every time. The day before I left Los Angeles to head north toward San Francisco, my friend Marjie and I spent the day discovering Long Beach, specifically the area of Seal Beach.

The photos are so nice, I’ll let them do most of the story-telling:

Beware of Los Angeles' public transportation system

It took us exactly 2 buses and 3 metro lines to get to Seal Beach from Downtown Hollywood, our total travel time being 2 hours. You might like to take a car instead if possible. We also got lost right outside of Compton when we transferred trains too early, heading to an imposter Long Beach stop.

Finally we made it to Downtown Seal Beach, a cute, hippie-like beach town.

Photo by author

We walked for a bit, encountered some cute little shops, gardens and restaurants, mostly just happy to be off the damn bus!

Photo by author

Hungry, we walked around looking for cheap and affordable Mexican food. Not that that’s hard to find in California. *Sigh* First, though, we found this hippie-lovin’ tree. *Another sigh*

Love in the time of hunger

Lunch was at Taco Surf where the incredible happy hour special (2-6 p.m.!) was $1 tacos and $2 drafts of Pacifico and Dos xx. Lunch for the two of us (fish tacos, carnitas, a few beers) was only $11! Can’t beat that!

The blog post actually ends here because after this I died and went to Heaven

After filling our stomachs and getting a nice little buzz, we walked toward the sea. It was a chilly day, but that didn’t stop us. We also anticipated seeing seals, but no luck.

Seal beach pier

Instead of seals, we did notice some crustaceans and starfish underneath the pier.

Photo by author

Clearly too cold to swim, but still a wonderful and scenic day. Next time, though, we drive.

Photo by author

Photo of the day: California Twilight

Can't live without a California sunset

Twilight, Mount Hollywood, Los Angeles. *Sigh* California, you deliver every time.

5 reasons to love magical, weird L.A.

I’ve been to L.A. once, very briefly to score a Hollywood T-Shirt for my friend’s suvenir on the way to LAX airport. It was hot, congested, those two things together rarely a good thing. I didn’t have a favorable first impression of the city of Angels.

I’m loving  California life. The more I explore this place, the more awesome it becomes.

1. People are really…nice: You thought I was going to say weird, didn’t you? Nah, everybody’s weird. But these weird people are nice. They’re the kind of people that will blindly let you cut across 6 lanes of traffic because you’re about to miss your exit. Note to self: Never mistake stupidity for nice. Just kidding, just kidding. Everyone I’ve met has  been hospitable, kind, fun, adventurous, liberal, artistic and passionate. Maybe I instantly fell into the right circle because I’m here visiting a friend, but even grocery store workers, the cashier at the local trattoria and even Santa Monica’s “Downtown Ambassador” (who tried to bust my friends and I street performing an impromtu version of Jason Mraz’s ‘I’m Yours’ with a ukelee) are the downright most open and friendly people. I guess I haven’t had the ill fortune of hanging around “Hollywood celebrity types” yet.

One of the coolest gents I met in Cali

2. I could die for the scenery: Don’t let anyone fool you, the hollywood “hills” are pretty ginormous mountains! Treacherous ones. Ones that kick ass to hike. I’ve hiked through Runyon Canyon, practically passed out from heat and exhaustion, but kept going for the views alone. The views of Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, The Pacific, everything right there is like a smorgeousboard of gluttony, excess and access, grime and glitter. Venice Beach and Santa Monica beaches are incredible, but nothing beat the shores of Malibu. At Leo Carrillo State Beach just north of Malibu on US 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway. Walking on the stony rocks and exploring the cavernous enclaves during low tide was damn near a religious experience.

3. Fit for foodies: I’m a sucker for cheap, great Mexican food. Luckily I’ve come to the land of the taqueria, where the diablo beckons me daily with the promise of tomatillo and cilantro salsa to slather on my torta. Pho is available 24/7. I’ve died and went to Thai food heaven. A local blog, Backyard Bite, examines all the neighborhood gems in L.A. just waiting to be discovered. So get out there and start looking!

4. Places like the Museum of Death exist: Where else could you score a sweet afternoon like this? They didn’t allow any pictures inside, but rest assured the $15 entry fee was worth every minute walking through “Executioner’s Row” and “Suicide Hallway.”

5. Entertainment is still alive and well:  People here still go to the theater. Stand-up comedians and musicians roll through town on the regular. The radio stations out here rock and there is just so many things to do here.

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Stay tuned for upcoming posts on more specific locations in Los Angeles I visited as well as my trip up north to San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district and the Sonoma County Redwoods.