Richard Jones, a former RAF officer, is travelling around the world with his family. He shares what lessons he has learnt on the way.
I scarcely believe it is almost six months since I wrote about leaving my job to travel for a year with my family. I almost feel like a different person now, having travelled from New Zealand across South East Asia. I have experienced many new cultures, and going on this adventure with my wife and children has been incredible.
Learning through teaching
We always wanted this journey to involve volunteering, so in Siem Reap (near the Angkor Wat temples) we became teaching assistants in a school for underprivileged kids. We helped a class of 40 children aged 8-16 to improve their English.
However, having no teaching experience meant it was challenging to explain the technical aspects of grammar. This was further complicated when trying to teach English pronunciation during a tropical rainstorm inside an open classroom with a tin roof!
Volunteering has been an incredible and rewarding experience, and I recommend that everyone takes the opportunity if possible. Veterans have a wealth of experience that are invaluable to the volunteering community.
Now that I am on the homeward leg of this adventure I must start thinking about finding employment. I would love to continue travelling but unfortunately financial realities means returning to Bristol. Except this time it will be different.
I did not realise to what extent this this journey has changed me until I recently read my CV. The person described did not quite relate to who I am now. Leaving a career and home comforts to travel with my family has recalibrated my perspective. I have developed my soft skills, which I will include in my CV, alongside my qualifications and achievements, so I come across as a person rather than just a candidate.
I have learnt to never underestimate myself, especially as a veteran. This has been an enriching experience, especially through meeting people from different cultures. It has helped me to accept changes in my life, and then adapt myself to work in different ways. I used to feel unfulfilled and full of doubt, but now I am content with greater personal resilience. I believe I can achieve more, but not necessarily by working harder. Instead, I recognise the importance of being in the right environment surrounded by the right people.
I need to determine what sort of work I want, and I have the same nervous excitement as when I left the military six years ago. The difference is I now have a better understanding of myself and what I want from my next role. I am less focussed on career progress and kudos, and more interested in a job that is fulfilling and makes a real impact.
If you are unhappy with your professional life, then do not be afraid to make changes. I do not know what my next chapter entails, but I am confident it will all work out… somehow. After all, I have got this far. To read more about Rich’s journey follow his alternative career path blog.
Take control of your career transition
The OA Employment Symposium in York brings together transitioning and former officers with employers and industry experts, so you can take your next step towards a new career after the Armed Forces. The event is on Wednesday 11th July at the University of York, Campus East.