“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Part of the idea with this whole world traveling game is that I am always on the lookout for interesting opportunities which never fail to reveal themselves. There is always someone somewhere who needs your abilities or your skills, or who would just appreciate having your around. So long as you are receptive, opportunities are abundant. Being prepared allows to you get the most from opportunities, giving you the best chance that the newly opened door will lead you somewhere.
Friendships and Connections lead to Opportunity
As I wrote in a previous post, I met by chance and spent a weekend with a young German woman named Judith. We traveled to eastern Uganda for some rural life and some nature. Apart from becoming friends, we also became partners in some work she was doing when I accepted a small job she offered, helping her transcribe a number of interviews she had done for her master’s degree. She was conducting research into social enterprises in Uganda, specifically with the company AFRIpads, which provides reusable feminine sanitary pads, and with Barefoot Power, a company which sells solar lighting and phone charging solutions to people who have electricity grid issues in Africa (which is nearly everybody), South America, and southeast Asia.
I heard and transcribed numerous interviews with workers, staff, micro franchisers and other people involved with these for-profit, socially beneficial companies, and I felt inspired. Over the course of my work assisting Judith, I was able to visit the Barefoot Power office in Kampala, Uganda several times where I enjoyed company and chit-chat with many of the friendly staff members around there. I asked the man in charge there, Dirk, if he could explain to me the ins and outs of the company and their products.
I was excited, being an engineer, by the simplicity and practicality of the products, and by the happy people involved in the company. I told Dirk about myself and my traveling plans. The director offered to connect me to some higher-ups withing the company to investigate opportunities. Coincidentally, the company is based in Australia, where I am heading anyway with a work permit already secured!
Since then I have emailed and phoned the director of production and scheduled an interview in early May. All this after simply befriending a traveling researcher!
Luck, Preparation, Opportunity
I believe that work preparation for a traveler, or for anyone, means having your ducks in a row at any given time, such that when opportunity presents itself, you are ready with a clean shirt and a resume. This way, when you sit next to an executive on an airplane, or chat with a manager sitting next to you at the bar, you can be ready for an interview within hours.
Opportunity only presents itself if you choose to see it. If you’ve got rigid plans and a tight schedule, and lack a willingness to try for something which may be wildly different, you are effectively putting on the blinders, and you may let really neat opportunities slip past. Being willing and flexible ensures that when the executive next to you on the plane wants to interview you later next week, you can say “I’ll be there!” without hesitation.
Being free in schedule, with credentials on hand, in possession of an interview-grade shirt, and willing to consider most any opportunity makes a traveler (or anybody) lucky when it comes to finding work “out of the blue.”
I won’t get ahead of myself: There is no guarantee that any my recent connections will lead to an exciting career as an international engineer, but being open and prepared will surely boots the chances! I’m convinced that you make your own luck, like Seneca said, through preparation for unexpected opportunity, and by being open to said opportunity.