The world’s universities have just produced another class of smart, freshly scrubbed graduates ready to jump into the workforce. Many dream of a life of frequent travel, but it’s important to remember that a life spent on the road has its pros and cons.
On the one hand, many frequent travelers get to see the world, constantly meet new people, try new foods and sleep in swanky hotels. At the same time, they rack up tons of loyalty points, which leads to even more cushy comforts in the form of upgrades and VIP status. And best of all, someone else is paying for it.
Sounds appealing, right?
But there’s a downside to the frequent traveling lifestyle, too. Being away from home can wreak havoc on relationships and can lead to health issues around weight gain or sleep deprivation. It’s tough to stick to exercise or diet regimens. Also, the life of a frequent traveler can be isolating and lonely. So while someone else might be paying for your frequent travels, you could pay a personal toll.
Nonetheless, starting out in a job that requires frequent travel is a dream for many graduates, so here are five jobs that young wanderlusters may want to consider:
Management Consultants: I place this job at the top of the list, because I started out as a management consultant way back in 1985. I was able to travel all over the U.S., even lived in Puerto Rico and Australia on long-term assignments. That was so long ago that smoking was still allowed on planes! But to this day, the life of a management consultant has not changed that much. Management consultants work for firms that advise other companies how to run their businesses more efficiently. Most don’t have offices of their own; they work at client sites. Wherever their company has a contract is where they work—which could be across town or across the globe. It’s one of those jobs where you might wake up in the middle of the night in a dark hotel room and wonder… “wait, where am I?” Life as a consultant is rarely boring—you are constantly meeting and interacting with new people, seeing new places, and then moving on to the next job. The position typically requires flying out every Sunday night or Monday morning, checking into a hotel near the client site for the week, then flying home on Thursday or Friday. Or, if your client has multiple locations, you could be flying midweek, too. This is a great way to rack up frequent flyer and hotel points, but it’s tough to maintain a life back home. (If you wonder what I mean by that, see the film “Up in the Air,” which chronicles the high-flying, but difficult life of consultant Ryan Bingham.) Big management consulting firms include Deloitte, McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting Group, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Public or Media Relations Executives: A public relations job, especially in the travel industry (or for travel industry clients), requires frequent travel to client sites for meetings (like consultants do), plus planning and executing media familiarization trips (like event planners do- see below). PR professionals either work for big brands, or for agencies that handle PR for the brands, which means you could be a rep for a single airline or hotel chain, or if at an agency, be the rep for 10 different independent hotels. The upside to this type of job is that it can be fun, even glamorous. Downside: Since you are working for the travel related company, you’ll likely fly in economy class and be housed in the cheapest room in the house, while your media guests stay in suites. There’s also plenty of stress involved in dealing with sometimes finicky and demanding writers, and ensuring positive coverage of your company or client’s brand in the media. There are hundreds of public relations firms, but the biggest names in the biz are Edelman, Weber Shandwick, Ogilvy, Fleishman-Hillard and Ketchum.
Event Managers: This job also hits close to home for me since my spouse is an event manager for a big Bay Area tech firm, and it’s easy for me to see the pros and cons that come with this type of work. Event managers plan and stage large corporate events for their own companies, or they work for management companies that contract with large companies to organize their meetings or events. Since everyone loves a party, event management is a feel-good position with lots of fringe benefits, like hotel room upgrades, food tastings, schmoozing with bands or entertainers, going to parties, etc. The position typically requires frequent travel to scout event locations, hotels, restaurants and ground transportation. Once the site is determined, event managers travel back to sites frequently to check on progress, and then travel back to the site again to manage the actual event, which involves very long, high-pressure days ensuring everything is going as planned—and if or when something goes wrong, the manager takes the blame. Also, frequent exposure to all that food and drink can lead to a bulging waistline. Key event management companies in the U.S. include George P. Johnson, Jack Morton, Carlson, Freeman and Opus.
Public Accountants or Auditors: Accountants and auditors are like consultants—they typically travel to work at client sites to investigate, analyze and prepare corporate financial statements, ensure that taxes are paid, or verify internal controls looking for waste, fraud or mismanagement. The upside to this type of job is that it pays well, and clients typically cover business class air travel, car services and deluxe hotels—which means even more loyalty points. Downside: work hours can be excruciatingly long, which means you could be on a job in an exciting location like New York or San Francisco, but spend all your time in office buildings and airports. The biggest pubic accounting firms include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and KPMG.
Sales Representatives: In this job, the size of your region determines the extent of your travel. For example, a pharmaceutical rep based in Chicago who calls on doctors in the Midwestern U.S. will likely spend most weeks driving pre-set routes from town to town, visiting clinics, offices and hospitals and spending the night at less-than-glamorous roadside hotels. But a sales rep for a large manufacturing company based in Switzerland could have a territory as large as “Europe, Middle East & Africa,” requiring frequent air travel as far away as Dubai, Durban or Dublin. The upside of these sales jobs is that reps typically have budgets to entertain clients, so much of your time on the road is spent wining and dining, which can be fun. Downside: Sales jobs usually come with plenty of pressure to perform by filling quotas, which can be stressful. Plus, all that wining and dining can lead to weight gain. Sales jobs are plentiful, and usually the easiest way for an eager young graduate to get into a large company with far flung operations and clients.
What’s your dream job? What advice would you offer a young graduate eager to hit the road or sky? Please leave your comments below.