There are many reasons why one might take a sabbatical. At Protiviti, we fully understand the value in that flexibility, and we support our team members as they find, define and live their passions – whatever they may be.
To highlight this, we’ve caught up with some of our employees who recently took a sabbatical for a variety of different reasons. They shared with us what they learned, what they will bring back to their daily work, and advice for those who are interested in doing a paid sabbatical.
What Does a Protiviti Sabbatical Look Like?
Teaching and Exploring
Cassie, a Senior Consultant from the Tampa Office, planned a trip to Europe around an opportunity to teach English in Spain. “I was excited and also nervous that I didn’t know what I’d be doing for the three months off at first, without knowing who I’d be traveling with, what my living conditions were going to be like,” she says, “but it all worked out for the best. My first destination was Morocco where I spent a week with a tour group and my best friend, then my best friend and I went to Spain and had a week to explore Madrid and Barcelona before I started my teaching opportunity.”
The teaching program, sponsored by the YMCA, was a week-long English language immersion camp for high school aged students. Located two hours outside of Madrid, the camp gave her an opportunity to teach during the week, and then spend weekends back in Madrid with the other camp counselors. “I loved working with the campers,” says Cassie. “We were encouraged to only speak English, and you see the kids trying to come up with a word and they light up when they finally get the word they’re looking for.”
Starting a journey like this can be intimidating, but Cassie found her footing quickly. “Going into the trip, I was thinking I’d be traveling by myself after the month spent teaching, but I never spent a single day alone because I met so many great people along the way. Also, my family ended up flying over and we went on a month-long road trip from Madrid to the northern coast of Spain and down Portugal’s coast.”
At just a little more than a year into his position here at Protiviti, Haider, a Consultant out of the Houston Office, talked with his advisors about a sabbatical. “Knowing that Protiviti offered sabbatical time after one year was a big draw during the interview process,” says Haider. Haider took a sabbatical similar to Cassie’s, leaving his itinerary wide open for exploration and chance. Inspired by Anthony Bourdain’s show, Parts Unknown, Haider set out to explore as Bourdain had, getting to know the locals and fellow travelers. “My two favorite episodes were about Hanoi and Budapest,” he says. “I wanted to go to those two places for sure, and the rest I left up in the air.” He found cheap flights, did some research on how to pack a backpack for a trip like his, and hit the road. By the end of his trip, he had visited Thailand, Vietnam, Greece, Hungary, and Portugal.
Along the way, he did some volunteering, which was a key aspect of his trip. “Wherever I went, I had a goal to give back while I was there,” says Haider. On his flight over to Bangkok, he met someone who was wearing a Louisiana State University (LSU) shirt, Haider’s alma mater. “I wound up traveling with him to volunteer at a youth prison where we talked to the kids about teamwork through basketball,” he says. In Vietnam, Haider was a part of a group of six people who bought clothing and live chickens to give to villages they met on their motorcycle trek. In Hungary, Haider and other guests at his hostel cooked a meal to distribute to nearby homeless individuals.
Connecting with Friends & Family
Meredith, a Senior Consultant in the San Francisco office, took seven weeks for her sabbatical and planned a three-part trip. “I spent the first two weeks with family on vacation in Ireland. My great grandfather was born there, so we always wanted to go.” Together, the family explored the area where her great-grandfather was born, connecting with relations and dining with ten local relatives in the family home.
Next, Meredith flew to Spain to meet up with a childhood friend and explore Basque country from Bilbao to San Sebastian. Meredith’s boyfriend joined her for the last leg of her trip. “We spent three weeks traveling through Spain and Portugal, visiting eight cities from small beach towns to bigger cities like Barcelona and Madrid. In Granada, there was a moment where we were eating dinner on a patio overlooking a valley filled with houses and an Alhambra sunset, it was a moment we were in awe of and I know I’ll be happy thinking about it for a long time,” she says. “Taking a sabbatical was the right decision to make, and I encourage everyone to plan one.”
Why the Sabbatical Experience is Beneficial
“When I got back from my sabbatical, I felt refreshed,” Cassie says. “One thing I will always take with me, being that I went into my three month sabbatical without having a full itinerary, is learning how to be adaptable and flexible. This translates for me in my career now as a consultant. I was also challenged to build my network on sabbatical and that has helped me in relationship building professionally.”
“I am an experienced traveler,” Meredith noted, “but I think that traveling teaches you so much about yourself. On my sabbatical, I challenged and pushed myself out of my comfort zone on a daily basis. And, I think that translates really well into consulting. In your professional career, you are often challenged and pushed out of your comfort zone. After returning from my trip, I’ve felt more comfortable in those situations and it made it easy for me jump back into a new project, learn quickly and want to get involved.”
Likewise, Haider says that he too found his sabbatical to be a positive experience. “My sabbatical taught me confidence. Spending 6 weeks without seeing a single person that is familiar, teaches you to rely on and trust yourself in a way that can’t easily be replicated. In completing my sabbatical, I took away the realization that at work or in life, no problem is too big if you are have the confidence to take the first step.”
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