Students can learn more from traveling than working

Pradip Rodrigues

Last year, Nikhil aka Nick, a second year business management studenttraveling sent out dozens of resumes looking for paid internships, when that didn’t pan out, he lowered his expectations and started looking for unpaid internship programs, no luck there either, so he settled for a minimum-wage retail job where he was assigned to the warehouse section cutting open boxes and arranging them on the shelves of the store. One month later, he was feeling positively brain dead restless and cutting  himself  sometimes became a fantasy. Now Nick comes from a well-to-do family so he was not really working for the money to see him through school, he was doing it for the ‘experience’. His parents then suggested he quit the job, hop into a Grayhound bus and spend a month with their cousins in Edmonton. His parents figured that traveling would broaden his mind, make him more independent and give him a new experience.

Like so many second-generation South Asian immigrants, Nick’s vacations were mostly local and every other year he’d go on a family vacation to India to see the grandparents and family.

Travel broadens the mind

His visit to Edmonton was the first out of Ontario and he was thrilled to bits. His cousins there suggested he apply for some part-time student jobs which were apparently plentiful, he landed one paying $18 an hour! He extended his trip there and returned just before school re-opened.
This year, he is going to Edmonton again, the plan is to work for half his summer vacation and then take an all-rail journey through the Rockies to Vancouver. After touring around Vancouver and Victoria, he will then fly back to Toronto in time for school.

Opening new horizons

As an avid traveler myself, I recall visiting  more than half a dozen states in India by train and bus and even visited Kathmandu, Nepal, all before I hit 21.

I spent three months traveling around the US at 23. Ravi Shah, who owns a convenience store and a Subway franchise in Bancroft, Ontario has two teenage daughters who are off to University this September. All through their school, they made it abundantly clear that they had absolutely no interest in spending glorious summers working in a store. The last couple of summers one daughter went to South America to build homes with Projects Abroad, the other decided it was time to re-acquaint herself with her Indian roots, spend time with her grandparents and travel around as well. This summer too they are going to be traveling. Their father Ravi ends up hiring local students whom he says really need the money to help pay their way through college. If teenagers don’t need the money, it would be better to let the job go to someone in real need. “How much experience can one get in a retail environment?” he reasons. “After two weeks of doing the same thing over and over again, they get the experience and can perform it with their eyes closed. It is different if they get a job related to the field of their interest,” he said.

Travel takes you out of your comfort zone

Some of my American-born cousins never worked summers and their parents strongly encouraged them to do volunteer work at camps when they were younger, travel around the country while in college and once done, they did some pretty extensive travel around Europe, Asia and India. They spent months in India where they grew to know their family and the country. Their college-going children have pretty much followed their footsteps and are inveterate travelers.
Nick who is looking forward to working and traveling around Western Canada is doing something that would be quite hard to do once he gets a job and  has just two or three weeks of vacation. What’s more is that Nick who has experienced life in Alberta loves it there, he’s broadened his professional horizon and will even be looking for jobs there once he’s done with school. What he did last summer was an experience he could never have gotten had he spent his days trapped in a warehouse performing brain-numbing and soul-sucking work.

Pradip Rodrigues started out as a journalist at Society magazine, part of the Magna Group in Mumbai. He wrote extensively on a variety of subjects. He later moved to the Times of India where he was instrumental in starting the now defunct E-times, a television magazine. He conceptualized Bombay Times and became its first assistant editor where he handled features and page three. Since coming to Canada in 2000, he has freelanced for newspapers and magazines in India and written autobiographies for seniors.

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