Meet Plan Go 2011 is this Tuesday

I recently returned to McGill University’s faculty of law to talk about my travels to some of the students, who had a slew of questions about packing, creating a voice online and career breaks and transitions. It wasn’t the first time I’ve been asked to speak about transitioning out of the law on a temporary or permanent basis and questions are similar: (1) do I want to return to the practice of law and (2) what if I am unmarketable when I do?

I’ve kept up my bar admission to New York State and have always said that the practice of law is so incredibly broad that there is bound to be a niche for me if I no longer want to continue along my current path. I also like to tell the story of my former “s” in Legal Nomads, Jessica, who did her one year around the world and went back to New York to continue practicing law. Those of you who followed along know that I got quite sick and had to go back to North America and Jess kept on, finishing after a year. To her surprise, she found that interviewers wanted to know about her travels and saw them as a character-building, interesting facet of an otherwise excellent resume; the trip hadn’t hurt her ability to return to the work force.

Me and Jessica in Mancora, Peru at the start of of trip in 2008

Me and Jessica in Mancora, Peru at the start of of trip in 2008

The economic climate of the last few years has led to more and more sabbatical stories in the news. In my former profession, lawyers were offered half-salary to defer their start dates and the term “career breaks” was used and read more frequently than when I initially left just a year earlier.

Enter Meet Plan Go, the brain child of Michaela Potter and Sherry Ott,. As career breaks are becoming more and more accepted in North America (something that many European countries have encouraged for years), their site has proved an extremely valuable resource for people wanting to take time from work but unsure of how to do so and how to make sure they position themselves for re-entry thereafter. Both Michaela and Sherry have become friends over the years, and I’ve watched Meet, Plan, Go take off (it was featured in USA Today this week). I photographed the 2010 event in New York City and asked them both to help me lead the career breaks and career transitions workshop at last year’s World Domination Summit.  Ultimately, taking time off from work remains a rightfully scary concept and it’s always a comfort to know that there are similarly situated people out there; everything is less daunting when you’re not alone in taking the leap.

The national event for MPG is this Tuesday, with meet-ups in 16 cities in the United States (and Toronto – hurray Toronto for representing Canadia!) From the founders:

Every event will feature individuals who have either fulfilled their own world travel dreams or are currently in the planning stages. In addition to offering tools and resources for planning a career break, they will also address the main concerns that prevent people from taking a career break, usually centered around financial, career-related, societal, and safety concerns.

A funny Meet, Plan, Go story of my own. At least year’s event I met a couple, Dave and Jesse, both lawyers in New York. Jessica even worked at my former firm – a small world. We talked about law and taking time off and travel, and they followed up with a question about backpacks. When I was in Chiang Mai the following Spring, I got an email through Legal Nomads: “Jodi, it’s Dave – we met at Meet, Plan, Go in New York. Is there any chance you’re in Chiang Mai? Because we were at the night market there and saw someone who looked remarkably like you. If so, let’s met up!”

And meet up we did.

Songkran in Chiang Mai

With Dave, Jesse and others, getting soaked in Chiang Mai for Songkran (and about to get even wetter!)

Real world friends aside, the event is a great opportunity for people thinking of long-term travel to ask questions and get excited about a possible adventure. As co-founder Sherry Ott notes, “it’s about creating a peer group of people with the same dream. Whether it’s a career break, running a marathon, or earning an advanced degree; we all need people to keep us accountable, energized, and focused on our goals”.

Meet Plan Go 2011