The traditional career path used to look something like this: go to college, get a job, keep your head down, climb the ladder, make it into a corner office, retire.

But this path has exited stage left.

People are changing their definition of success. It’s no longer just about the title that you have in the end, it’s about the impact that you’ve had on the world along the way.

The idea of “work” no longer ends when you leave the walls of your cubicle. It becomes a part of your every day as you volunteer, start a side hustle, or join a new organization. In a similar vein, networking isn’t just for the sake of networking anymore – it’s the first step in the quest to create a community that supports you, connects you, and most importantly, inspires you to take risks and be your best self.

Not every community is created equal. There are those that are loosely tied together because of geographical location, or scarcity of opportunity. For example, local young professional organizations or intramural sports leagues can fall into this category. Then, there are communities like IVY and work and travel programs like Remote Year that are held together by deep bonds, similar values, and a larger mission that unites members even if they’ve never met before.

A community should be a group of people that has a passion for helping each other rise to the top. For participants of work and travel programs, this means helping others leave their comfort zone behind and pursue personal growth. Like IVY members, Remote Year participants bond over collaboration and meaningful experiences that push them toward more.

True community goes beyond being identified as a member of an organization. It’s about the power of many people coming together to create change or action within society, either on an individual level, or on a more global scale.

Often, when we feel like our lives are missing something, we are missing the feeling of belonging. We want to know what it feels like to be understood, for someone to just “get” us in a way that we haven’t experienced before. Until we’ve felt that from a group of individuals, it’s very difficult for us to reach the next level. After all, how can we have the confidence to become our best selves if we don’t have a community of supporters cheering us on as we make mistakes, take risks, and keep trucking toward our goals?

One way to start curating that type of community is to join a work and travel program.

What Does a Work and Travel Community Look Like?

You may have heard the saying “It takes a village.” That concept could not be more true in the connected world that we live in today.

If you have an idea that could shatter stereotypes, break down boundaries, and light the world up with optimism and hope, having a work and travel community behind you can help you turn your dreams into realities.

No matter what you are pursuing, you simply can’t do it alone.

There will be moments when you feel like you can’t go on, like there’s no way that you can actually bring this idea to life. There will be moments when you can’t believe that you spent this much time and energy on an idea that isn’t realistic or achievable.

On a work and travel program, those moments manifest in other ways. When you don’t know if you can make it up yet another mountainside, there will be hands to push you forward. In times of sadness and homesickness, there will be arms to comfort you and stories to make you smile. If you lose your most important client and are filled with doubt and uncertainty, your community will be at the ready to connect you with their network so that you can continue living the life that you’re all championing.

They’ll remind you that you only fail if you give up. A true community will not let you fail.

With that unparalleled support system behind you, you will no longer be an average professional. You’ll be someone who has the courage to take risks because failure doesn’t scare you. You’ll have the confidence to lead because your community encourages you to take on responsibility and pursue excellence. You’ll create connections after months of building meaningful bonds within your work and travel program.

Remember this the next time that you arrive at a networking event, ready to hand out business cards, shake hands and give your elevator pitch: your aim should not be to meet as many people as possible, but rather, to meet the right people. You want to create connections with the people who inspire you, people you can learn from, and even people that you could mentor as you pursue similar goals.

They are the people that will inspire you to be your best and to go beyond the realm of the average professional. The value of community is unquantifiable, but know this: when you are exposed to multiple perspectives, unique cultures and unconditional love and support as you are in a community like a work and travel program, you’re setting yourself up to succeed not just personally, but professionally.