Here at the Career Break Site, we talk a lot about our partners (the people who actually run the amazing experiences we feature) and a lot about you, but not very much about us.
So here are some things you probably don't know about us.
1. We have the strictest vetting procedure in the gap year and career break industry
We think a career break is one of the most important things you can ever do, so it's vital that you're safe and spending your money wisely. We were the first organisation to set up an independent approval scheme, and we are very strict about who we will work with. We encourage people to get in touch with us if they have any concerns - thankfully this very rarely happens.
2. We are really careful when it comes to social media
We know a lot of you follow us (on Facebook or Twitter) while you're at work, so we keep all our links safe for work. Often we won't link to something just because it's got swearing in it, as we know some companies will block that kind of thing. We also tell you in advance if we link to a video, as we know the boss will be onto you if the sound of a shrieking bungee jumper emerges from your computer when you're supposed to be working on a spreadsheet!
3. We try very hard to be inclusive
Occasionally we have things on the site or on our social media feeds that are aimed at women - this is simply because they have different issues when it comes to both work and travel. But on the whole we try to keep things interesting and useful to all our visitors - and we do the occasional men-only post too! You encompass a huge range of people with lots of different interests - which is why this is such a big site! If you have trouble finding what you need, or you think there should be more information for people like you, you can always email us. Which brings us to...
4. We love getting feedback
Some of you have been very kind in telling us how useful you've found the site, and in sharing your stories. We've also had some helpful emails with suggestions for how we can improve. All the feedback we get from you is very useful to us and helps us serve you better.
5. We like helping people (most of the time)
The calls and emails asking for help tend to fall into 3 basic camps:
- People planning a career break who are not sure where to start, or have some specific issue they need advice on
- People coming back from a career break who are having a problem getting back to work (usually something to do with their sabbatical arrangement)
- HR people who want advice on forming a policy
The first one is our favourite, because it's exciting helping someone plan their experience! We sometimes get quite jealous in fact.
The second one we are not so keen on, not because we don't want to help you but because we know that these problems are usually (but not always) avoidable. However, we understand that it's really hard to think through every possibility before you go, and even harder to nail that down into a written agreement - I know we bang on about this all the time, but get your sabbatical in writing people! It'll save you a massive headache and you won't call me just as I'm about to start eating my lunch.
The third one we don't like so much because we offer consultancy to employers and don't like to give it away for free! We do try to help still, because we know it'll make their employees' life easier.
6. We are incredibly discreet
Following on from number 5, we know that you often want to keep your career break plans or your job difficulties a secret - not just from your employer but also perhaps from family or friends. We never ask your name if you call, and when we add questions to our 'Question of the Month' in the newsletter, we take care not to include any information that could identify you. Your email is always deleted once it's been dealt with and to be honest, we can't remember much beyond last week anyway.
7. We have a few official stances on certain things
On the whole, we try to be generally open - we know not everyone wants to do things the way we do. But we do take an official position on the following:
- Responsible travel means different things to different people, but we try to encourage people to at least make the effort! Simple things like not littering, learning a bit of the language, supporting local businesses, etc, can go a long way. It also means not contributing to damaging practices such as prostitution (mentioned in this blog post about sex).
- Our approval scheme, as mentioned above.
- We won't tell you what to do. We believe your career break is so important, only you can decide what to do. If you ask us for advice, we will normally point out your various options, as we see them, along with the advantages and disadvantages. Obviously, it is our business to encourage people down the career break route but we would never say 'Yes, definitely do this'.
8. We genuinely care about your experience
We set up this site because, at the time, there was no single independent source of career break information on the web. There's still nothing to compare to us in terms of size, scope and the way we do things (especially with regard to our approval scheme). From the outset, the intention was to ensure the thousands of people taking a career break have a brilliant time and come back fulfilled. We've seen the positive impact first-hand and it's fantastic for us to know we have been a part of that.
Please leave us a comment below! We'd love to hear suggestions for improvement, praise, thoughts on the above, your story, or just your ramblings. It's all good. :)