Do What You Love Abroad
The Krannichs Live their Creed and Teach It to Others
The Krannichs board a riverboat in Myanmar.
Ron Krannich and his wife Caryl love to travel. They know millions of others do too, which is why they devoted their life’s work to helping people find and create jobs that combine work and travel. Since 1980, Ron and Caryl have been assisting hundreds of thousands of people, from students, the unemployed, and ex-offenders to CEOs, military personnel, and international job seekers, in making job and career transitions.
A former PeaceCorps Volunteer and Fulbright Scholar in Thailand, Ron received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Northern Illinois University. Caryl received her Ph.D. in Speech Communication from Pennsylvania State University. Together they founded Development Concepts Incorporated, which trades as Impact Publications, a training, consulting, and publishing firm in Virginia. The Krannichs are former university professors, high school teachers, management trainers, and consultants.
As two of America’s leading career and travel writers, they have authored more than 70 books, and their work is commonly featured in major newspapers, magazines, and newsletters, as well as on radio and television. Their career books, including Jobs for Travel Lovers, High Impact Resumes and Cover Letters, Interview for Success, and Change Your Job, Change Your Life, represent one of today’s most comprehensive collections of career writing. They have also written widely on the topic of Internet employment.
Ron served as the first Work Abroad Adviser to Monster.com, and many of his and Caryl’s career tips can be found on major websites such as campuscareercenter.com, www.careerbuilder.com, and employmentguide.com. The Krannichs have also developed their own career-related websites: www.impactpublications.com, www.winningthejob.com, and www.veteransworld.com.
Following their career secret, “Do what you love,” the Krannichs have pursued and best represented their passion for travel with the development of their innovative travel-shopping guidebook series and related websites. “Treasures and Pleasures of.Best of the Best” consists of 19 guidebooks on destinations around the world and complements their websites.
I recently spoke with Ron about his work and working abroad. You can find the Krannichs’ work abroad books at www.impactpublications.com. You can order books online.
Sherry Schwarz: What was your first international job? What were the most important lessons you took away from it?
Ron Krannich: My first international job was as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand. The most important lesson I learned, which has been reconfirmed numerous times, was that working abroad is much more than just a job. Above all, it’s a lifestyle involving exciting travel, interesting people, and stimulating cultures. The international lifestyle tends to get into one’s blood. The challenge is to pursue a passion without going over the edge into a terminal case of international wanderlust—going from one job to another just to have more international experiences.
SS: What drives people to pursue international careers?
RK: There are many motivators. But travel is at the top. A disproportionate number of people get hooked by participating in a summer or semester abroad study program. Many of them want to turn what they considered to be “the best time in my life” into a short- or long-term job or career abroad. Others are motivated by language programs, international politics, travel experiences, and jobs of friends and family members. And don’t forget the images of National Geographic magazine and the Discovery Channel—they’ve probably been responsible for motivating thousands of individuals to explore jobs and careers abroad.
SS: How is the international job market today?
RK: I usually think in terms of short-term job experiences versus long-term careers. Individuals who only want to work a year or two abroad and then return home to pursue a “normal career” can easily jump in and out of the international job market in five major areas:
- Teaching English
- Travel industry
With the exception of construction, most of these employment arenas offer high turnover entry-level jobs that require little experience and don’t pay particularly well. In fact, most of the work abroad books are geared toward individuals who want short-term work abroad experiences. Individuals who are interested in long-term international careers tend to look toward government, international organizations, international nonprofits, educational institutions, consulting firms, and multinational corporations. Many of these individuals have advanced degrees and a great deal of international experience.
SS: Are there certain fields that are easier to break into than others?
RK: One of the major changes I’ve seen over the past 10 years is the increased number of international opportunities for entrepreneurs. In fact, the best international job you can have is the one you create yourself. Today’s global economy offers numerous opportunities for individuals who want to sell their products and services abroad as well as start their own import-export businesses. Many traditional international jobs in government and business are not as exciting and rewarding as they once were, especially given increased concerns with safety and security when living and working abroad. I also have my own personal biases. Many international jobs today are in countries that don’t particularly appeal to me. I started out in Southeast Asia more than 30 years ago and still find this region to be fascinating.
SS: In Jobs for Travel Lovers you say that the travel and hospitality industry remains one of the most exciting and satisfying. Why, and what types of jobs are available in this industry that people may not typically consider?
RK: In fact, people working in the airline industry tend to have one of the highest levels of job satisfaction of any industry. If one of the reasons you’re interested in an international job is because of the travel opportunities, you may be better off finding a job in the travel industry.
Ironically, many international jobs do not involve much travel because of work permit and visa restrictions. The types of jobs found in the travel industry mirror many of the same jobs found in other industries, from accountants and webmasters to sales, marketing, and public relations specialists. This is a highly segmented industry involving travel agencies, tour operators, incentive travel companies, meeting planners, airlines, cruise lines, advertising agencies, public relations firms, resorts and spas, restaurants, travel education and training, travel writing, photography, online travel services, and many others. Some of the most exciting jobs we’ve encountered are directors of public relations and general managers of major international hotels and resorts.
SS: For someone just starting a career search or making a mid-life transition into a travel-related or international career, is there a recommended way of testing the waters?
RK: Do lots of research and take a few trips with an eye toward working abroad. What countries especially appeal to you? What opportunities would best fit your interests and skills? Talk to lots of people and network with individuals who have international or travel-related jobs. While you should explore several websites specializing in international and travel jobs, get out from behind that computer and meet people who can make a difference. You’ll quickly discover that the international and travel arenas are highly networked communities. Your best information and job contacts will come through personal relationships, especially face-to-face meetings. You may be surprised how helpful individuals in these arenas will be. After all, they were at one time in your situation. At the same time, you may discover your best route would be to start your own international or travel business rather than rely on what is often an unpredictable and uncertain international job market.
SS: In your many years of working abroad, you’ve also had ample opportunity to play abroad. What is one of your most memorable experiences?
RK: In the 1980s Caryl and I were working as rural development organization and management advisors in the Office of the Prime Minister in Thailand. One day a friend of a friend (she networked her way to us) visited Bangkok in anticipation of extending her “Shopping in Exotic Places” tours to Hong Kong and South Korea to Bangkok. From that chance meeting, we collaborated in developing a new travel guidebook series on travel-shopping. Today the series includes over 20 guidebooks appropriately titled “Treasures and Pleasures of…Best of the Best in Travel and Shopping .” The series is also part of our publishing business, which includes both career and travel resources. The Impact Guides now include separate volumes on Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, India, Egypt, Italy, France, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Southern Africa, and other great destinations.
With our chance meeting having blossomed into both our work and play, we now have two to three months a year to travel and do research on our latest volumes. This has become a very satisfying and rewarding international career that allows us to pick and choose wherever in the world we want to go. This also is a good example of how important serendipity is in finding one’s fit in the international arena. If you put yourself in lots of places with lots of different people and maintain productive networks, the chances are you’ll end up pursuing your passions in a job you really love. It takes time, persistence, and patience.