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Organising a Mini Career Break

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 16 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Career Career Break Employer Planning

Going on a career break for anywhere up to one month is a lot easier than planning an average career break, which usually lasts from six months to a year. You don't need to worry about renting out your house, leaving your job for a significant period of time, or financing an enormous project. However, you may need to get someone in to water the houseplants!

Decide on A Time Period

Deciding to go on a mini career break doesn't have to involve lots and lots of planning. The first decision to make is how long you can afford to take off work. That depends not only on your desire and financial situation, but also on the willingness of your employer or HR office.

Talk to Your Boss

Having a talk with your employer is vital when going on a mini career break, especially if you plan to take off the entire month. For some people, this could mean having a week or two of unpaid leave, kind of like a sabbatical. If you're very lucky, you may be able to work weekends advance in time to make up for the time – or work flexi-time hours, coming in early and leaving late, or even taking work home in the evenings.

Many employers are happy to send employees off on mini career breaks or sabbaticals, especially if they will be bringing back experiences and skills that can help them further in their line of work. Talk to your employer in advance – you may be surprised at what they can offer!

Research Your Destination

Once you decide on a time frame and get permission to leave, it's time to decide exactly what you want to do – although in some cases your employer may require knowing that before you get time off. For many people the choice of what to do is the easy part: a month off gives them the chance to fulfil a lifelong dream, such as helping save elephants in Africa, working in a Romanian orphanage or finding long-lost relatives in Russia. For others, the world is an open book – they have no idea where to go or what to do, they only know that they want to do something!

If you fall into the latter category, keep in mind that mini career breaks usually involve one of three activities: working, volunteering or travelling. For some people, it can involve all three – a week volunteering on a Kibbutz, two weeks travelling around Israel, and another week doing a paid internship. Decide what is most important to you – activity or destination - then look online and see what's on offer.

Take Care of Practicalities

The hard work is now done – you have permission to leave and you know where you're going and what you will be doing. Now it's time to take care of the practical stuff. That means buying a ticket, getting visas and jabs if applicable, perhaps even getting a work permit. Make a detailed list and leave yourself plenty of time to accomplish everything on it, you don't want to get caught short right before it's time to leave.

Mini Career Breaks Do's and Don'ts

  • DON'T plan something that takes loads of time to set up. It's not really worth spending an entire year organising a trip if it's only going to last a few weeks.
  • DON'T travel to a country where the language is entirely impenetrable if you're only going to be there for a week or so. Even though it may sound exotic, you'll get less out of the experience if you are unable to communicate with anyone.
  • DON'T go with unrealistic expectations. While your help could be invaluable, don't expect to change the world in one month.
  • DO decide early on exactly how much time off you can afford to take. Your choice of both destination and activity could vary greatly if you are going for one week or four.
  • DO talk to your employer well in advance if you plan to take a whole month off. Have alternative financial arrangements in place so your bills don't go unpaid.
  • DO enough research beforehand so you are well prepared when you arrive at your final destination. This may or may not involve learning some of the language, arranging for an interpreter to meet you, and getting necessary jabs well in advance of your departure.

Organising a mini career break needn't take loads of time. If you do your research beforehand and set out simple goals to accomplish, it should be fairly easy. Just make sure to plan for things to be taken care of on the home front as well. Bon voyage!

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