Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: travel

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to travel.

Contractor Quick Poll Results: What is a reasonable commute time?

Unless you’re able to make the most of it, getting yourself to and from your place of work can be a massive waste of time. Not only do you have to pay for gas and parking or transit fees, but you lose precious time that IT contractors can rarely bill back to their client.

Through multiple conversations recruiters have with technology consultants, we’ve come to learn that there are varying opinions on a reasonable commute time. To learn more about that range of acceptability, we put out the question to our readers in last month’s Contractor Quick Poll. The results are in and it’s clear, most people max out their idea of a reasonable commute time at 30-60 minutes.

What do you consider to be a maximum reasonable commute time (one-way)?

What do you consider to be a maximum reasonable commute time (one-way)?

10 Important Things to Remember Before Becoming a Travelling Freelancer

Eagle typically recruits independent contractors who work on technology projects at a client site, or at least in the same city as their home. Occasionally IT professionals will take a gig in another city and do some travel, and while this trend has picked up in the current economy, it’s still less frequent for us. As such, most of the posts in the Talent Development Centre are directed to IT contractors who work in their hometown.

There is another side of contracting and freelancing that we don’t touc10 Important Things to Remember Before Becoming a Travelling Freelancerh on much, but may pique the interest of technology professionals, depending on where they are in life. We brag about the freedoms that come with working for yourself, including the ability to take time off and travel, but what about the ability to travel while working? This is a common practice and, if you’ve been meaning to see the world, may be something for you to try for a year or two. Before quitting your job or deciding not to renew your current contract, consider some of these tips for working while travelling the world:

  1. Have a plan! This is common sense, but please do not pick up and leave with no plan. Know where you’re going to start, and more importantly, have a client or two lined up at your first stop.
  2. Know your worth. Understand how much you can charge in the city you’re working. Remember, markets are different so what you make in one place may not equate.
  3. Have an office. Doing contract work on a sidewalk or a coffee shop is going to get old. Do some research to share an office or workspace while you’re stationed in a city.
  4. You may not always want cash. Prepare to barter. Perhaps you can work for a place to stay, a workspace, or even food.
  5. Stay disciplined. Exploring new places and meeting new people makes it easy to get distracted from your work. Remember that your clients are the reason you’re affording to travel, so you must keep them satisfied and serve them first.
  6. Organization is key. With such little consistency in your life, you need some form of organization and routine if you want to ensure you’ll get things done.
  7. Pack light. Not just clothes, but you can’t be a technology diva either. It’s difficult to lug around a desktop computer and even some laptops may be excessive. Also keep in mind that everything you pack can be lost. Consider cloud storage and renting equipment with your office space.
  8. Research the legal side. How long are you allowed to stay in a specific country? What are the accounting implications of working abroad? Discuss your plans with an immigration lawyer and have a thorough understanding of what you can and can’t do in every location you visit.
  9. Find the right project and location is irrelevant. It goes without saying, but technology contractors especially rarely need to be in the same office as their client. If you plan right, you may be able to work on a single project from multiple cities.
  10. Don’t forget to take in the experience. We’re stressing the importance of working hard and serving your clients, but you’re also experiencing something few people will ever do. Remember to take a few days and enjoy savour the experience in every place you visit.

Countless people dream of travelling the world in their lifetime and never do it. If you share that dream, possess the skills, and are in a position in life to do it, then get out there and enjoy the experience. Before you do though, know exactly what you’re getting yourself into and how you’ll deal with all of the challenges. Have fun!

Life After Graduation — What’s the Next Step? (Infographic)

You’ve just graduated from University or College and might be unsure to what path you should take next and how you need to go about prepping your application for that dream job. Or maybe you’re itching to travel and not ready to head into the nine to five world straight away. Whatever stage you’re at in deciding your career route, the below infographic by Essay Writing Service UK outlines some key advice on choosing your next path and the options available, as well as what each of those options might entail.

Whatever industry you’re looking to make your mark in (whether that might be now or later on), there are a couple of different routes you can take to get there to enhance your employability and improve your overall experience. From taking the time to go travelling or delving into self-employment if you have the confidence, to continuing your study for further knowledge or carrying out an internship with a company to get your foot in the door.

You need to be aware of your employability and understand that your personal profile can make or break a job application, even if that job application is for working abroad or a temporary part-time job. The below infographic outlines some of the tools you should be using to enhance your employability. These include your resume/CV, your online presence within a booming digital world, as well as some extra considerations you should be thinking about.

In regards to the application process, each individual job application should be tailored towards a specific industry and job role. For example, outlining technical skills and experience should become more of a priority in an IT job application whereas visual representation and portfolio design might become more of a priority for a creative role application.

Whether you’ve already got your nine to five all booked in or you’ve got your heart set on going travelling for six months, discover the tools you need to step into the right direction of your future career today…

Life After Graduation -- What's the Next Step? (Infographic)

Top 10 Things to Do on a Business Trip (Video)

Travelling for business isn’t all that glamourous, especially after the day is over and you find yourself bored in a hotel room. According to Vlog Travel, there’s no reason to be bored and you have a lot of options, whether you want to relax or go out for a night on the town. Here are a few ideas to help you fill your time.

10 Tips for Being Super Productive On Your Next Flight

This article was originally posted September 14th, 2015 by Nina Zipkin on Entrepreneur.com

10 Tips for Being Super Productive On Your Next FlightIf you travel a lot for business, you know that even the shortest flights can take up a good chunk of time. There’s the time spent traveling to and from the airport, the time spent going through security, the time spent waiting in the terminal. And don’t even get us started on the time spent waiting for your bag.

These trips are meant to help you advance your company, but if you feel like you’re constantly in limbo, how can you focus long enough to get anything done?

Here are a few tips to ensure you make the most of your time in the air and hit the ground running once you land.

  1. Stay hydrated and brown bag it.

Traveling is tiring no matter how well in advance you plan. Making sure you drink enough water will make you feel more awake and help prevent you from getting sick. If you know you have to get a big project done, pack yourself a meal and some snacks that you know will keep you to keep you going so you won’t have to rely on what the airport or airline has to offer.

  1. Make sure you can work without the Internet.

Airplane Wi-Fi is notoriously spotty, so don’t be caught off guard if your internet cuts out mid-flight. When you’re going through your to-do list, make sure you download all the documents you need ahead of time and set aside work you can do without being connected, like writing emails to send once you land.

  1. Keep your devices charged.

It may seem like a simple task, but in your effort to get from A to B, it’s easy to forget that your laptop-with-everything-on-it needs some juice to stay alive. Remember to put your devices in airplane mode to save battery and travel with your device chargers. You might also want to bring your own power strip; if you’re lucky enough to find a free outlet in a busy airport, you could help a fellow traveler out, too.

  1. Don’t just keep your head down.

Your inclination is to get as much work in as possible, but you never know who you’ll be seated next to you on the plane or who will need to share that outlet with you in the airport. Keep your business cards at the ready because your neighbor could offer you some intriguing advice or become a potential partner, customer or friend.

  1. Get some exercise.

You can’t pay attention to work if you’re sluggish or exhausted. Even if you only can do some laps around the terminal before you board, run up and down a flight of stairs or stretch your legs up and down the aisle of the plane while en route to your destination, do what you can to keep your blood pumping and keep the stress to a minimum.

  1. Get busy work out of the way before you get on the road.

Don’t spend your time in the air doing busy work like filling out forms or rearranging your calendar. On the plane you’re largely away from the quotidian distractions that crop up in your office, so devote your attention to a big project or fleshing out a new idea.

  1. Set goals for yourself.

What do you want to accomplish by the end of the flight? When you make your itinerary and book all your travel, also make a list of the tasks you want to complete before you land and check them off as you go. And do the most important item first.

  1. Block out your time.

Once you have your priorities in order, next to each item, estimate how long you each task will take. Develop a system that works best for you – i.e., working 40 minutes and then taking a 20 minute break. You’ll soon get into a rhythm that will help keep you focused.

  1. Calm your nerves.

Many people are nervous fliers – heights, enclosed spaces, iffy air pressure – they can all take a toll and make the most confident person uneasy. If you have worst-case scenarios running through your head as your taking off, work may be the last thing on your mind. But remember to take a breath, calm your mind and channel that nervous energy into doing a great job.

  1. Take a break.

Whether your flight is three hours or 13, you can’t work nonstop – before long, you’ll start to see your concentration and quality of work suffer. Instead of mindlessly going down an Internet wormhole or flipping through the SkyMall for a third time, do something more creative. Look out the window and listen to favorite playlist for a few minutes, bring a sketchbook or journal with you, work out your brain with a Sudoku game or just meditate.

Hang Your Hat in Winnipeg

Cameron McCallum By Cameron McCallum,
Branch Manager at Eagle

Updated: February 2020

It’s funny how we develop preconceptions of things.  While there might be some semblance of truth involved often the evidence that we use for forming our opinions of something comes from anecdotal or third party sources.   So how, without experiencing something directly, can we develop such strong feelings?   This seems to be particularly true when we talk about places and locations.  We associate a place or location with very specific words or emotions and those take on a life of their own.  I currently live in Vancouver, BC, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever lived but a place where the real estate is outrageous and traffic is challenging. Before that, I lived for 17 years in Edmonton where the sun doesn’t set until 11pm in the summer but where the winter is long and hard. When you tell people where you live, 9 out of 10 times, they will say the same things. “oh it rains too much in Vancouver, I couldn’t live there” or “ Edmonton, oh the winter is too long, I couldn’t stand it”.  The point is, every place has its positives and negatives and we humans are pretty good at adapting and making a place our home.  And what about the hundreds of thousands of people who live in those cities? Are they all crazy?

"Winnipeg from Above second version" by user:Haljackey - :File:Winnipeg_from_Above.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Winnipeg from Above second version” by user:Haljackey:File:Winnipeg_from_Above.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

So, what about Winnipeg? I lived there for many years as well and still have family there. I have fond memories of camping and time spent at any one of the myriad number of lakes. Eagle works across Canada with clients from all geographic locations, including Winnipeg and as it turns out, Winnipeg happens to have a lot of great opportunities right now and it is a challenge filling these roles. So, I want to highlight why you as a contract professional, might want to pay more attention to what is happening there and why it is important for you to do so.

1. There are lots of opportunities in Winnipeg!

It may not be a large city (750k) but Winnipeg has a healthy market for IT professionals and any number of exciting initiatives to take part in. I’ve seen an increasing need for Project Managers, Business Analysts, Programmer Analysts and Management Consultants along with a number of other skills. Rates are competitive and it is not overly difficult to find accommodation and settle in. And Winnipeg is the center of Canada (no it’s not Toronto) so it’s an easy flight home for a weekend visit, typically not more than 2 hours, whenever you might need to.

2. There is less Competition!

Competition in major markets can make it a challenge to line up contracts, especially when the market slows down in your particular location. If you are living in Toronto, sure there is a lot of volume but the number of applicants for a single posting means you are competing against many, equally talented and skilled workers. And if you happen to be in Calgary right now, you know the impacts of the price of a barrel of oil on the job market. The volume of work is certainly less in Winnipeg, but there is also a shortage of professionals to do the work, so if you’ve come to the conclusion that you wouldn’t mind a change, you just might find that Winnipeg has a lot to offer.

3. Winnipeg is fun!

Stop rolling your eyes! I lived in Winnipeg for a number of years and I can speak from experience. I also visit Winnipeg frequently and have spoken to a number of out-of-town contract resources that we’ve placed with clients there. All of them spoke of being a bit reticent about moving to Winnipeg initially. But all of them also said that once they were established, they began to see that the city had a lot going for it. They talked about golfing, joining the Running Room, visiting the new Human Rights museum, skating and ice fishing and just generally getting a feel for the vibe of the City. I personally know that Winnipeg has a vibrant cultural scene, great restaurants and lots of options for entertainment.

4. This doesn’t have to be forever!

You never know, you might actually find you like it so much, you end up staying. And that is exactly what one of our contractors decided to do. He found things that he really liked about Winnipeg and he also found a place with a decent economy and good opportunities for someone with his skills. But even if you don’t end up deciding to stay forever, Winnipeg represents an opportunity to work your next contract while seeing what makes the city tick. Just remember, traveling for a contract is not everyone’s cup of tea. Not only do you have to take care of the logistics of moving and the impact that will have on your life, but it is also extremely important that once you’ve accepted a contract, you are committed to seeing it through to the end.
So what do you do if you are interested?  Just follow this link and see what we have open and if you see something that matches your experience and skills, simply apply.  Who knows, a new life adventure might be waiting for you in Winnipeg.

Tips for Business Travellers

Depending on your expertise, your client, or demand in your hometown, there’s a good chance that as an independent contractor, you have to travel for business.  At the start of July, we provided some tips to maximize your time on the road.  Further to that, we surveyed some executives at Eagle who travel frequently and came up with a few extra tips:

  1. Be organized and don’t leave stuff till the last minute.  Pick your seat, book your hotel, etc. well ahead to get best prices, the right schedule and the seat/hotel you want.
  2. If you have not been there before do a little research.  Google map the area, look at hotel amenities, look at a local tourist sites for restaurant options etc.
  3. Consider using discount sites like Hotwire to get best pricing.
  4. AirplaneDon’t stress yourself out by arriving at the airport at the very last minute.  The more experience you have the more clear you become about how long it take to get to the airport, get through security etc.  Be sure to leave yourself time to pick up water, reading material, and snacks once through security.
  5. Don’t rely on the airline for drinks or food. It might work out fine, but be prepared.  Bring your own bottled water and nutritious snack.  You need to stay hydrated, and fed!
  6. Have all of your travel docs together (electronically and/or on paper)
  7. Create a “reading” file with photocopied/printed articles to use time productively (Note: an e-reader may do this even more efficiently)
  8. Create an airplane folder of work items you can “knock off” while captive on a plane.
  9. Exercise where possible. Consider a skipping rope, running stairs, push-ups and sit-ups if there is no gym.
  10. Travel as light as you can and do not check luggage if at all possible.  Some very specific thoughts on travelling light:
  • Get light luggage;
  • Mix and match clothes (ex. one suit with two pairs of pants will go a long way);
  • Learn to fold efficiently, so things don’t crease;
  • Pack as few toiletries as possible and  use hotel “stuff” when available;
  • If travelling to the same place all the time consider, leaving some stuff at the office there, (shirt, tie, pants, toiletries, casual clothes etc.);
  • Take exercise gear and pack stuff inside the shoes (razor, socks, underwear etc.) to save space; and,
  • Think through your stay and don’t take things “just in case”.  Do you really NEED casual clothes? If so, can a pair of jeans and a t-shirt complement your work jacket and shoes?

Business travel can be a real chore but if you do it right then you can minimize the hassles.  We’re sure there are many frequent travelers out there who have their own tips and tricks. Feel free to comment below!

Maximizing Your Time on the Road

Today’s technology-filled world allows us to work in a global economy and connect with people around the world without leaving the comfort of our own office.  That said, there are still situations where business travel is a necessary evil and, as an independent contractor, you want to ensure you’re always taking an entrepreneurial approach to travel.

Here are some tips we’ve compiled from speaking with other independent contractors and business owners:

  1. Quote: The truth is that you always know the right thing to do.  The hard part is doing it!Apply a common sense approach to business travel.  Whether it’s a requirement of a client or your next contract is in another city, travel is often necessary for the independent contractor, but you need to ask yourself “Is it really necessary?”  Each and every trip needs to be evaluated on its need and on maximizing the return on that investment.  Even when your client is reimbursing all travel expenses, it is good business to show you are thinking of their costs, plus there is always your cost of an invaluable asset – time.
  2. Travel takes you away from your regular routine, and therefore, you want to maximize your use of time while still staying on top of your regular commitments.  Here are some of the ways to do that:
    • Maximize your workday in the time zone you’re visiting.  If, for example, you travel from Toronto to Calgary, get as early a flight as possible, allowing you to land and begin your workday as early as possible in the Calgary business day.
    • If we follow the same example, when you leave to go back to Toronto, try to catch as late a flight as possible to ensure you have as much working time as possible with your Calgary client.  It means long days, early trips to the airport and late arrivals home, but your trip is as full of available time as possible.
    • Before leaving home, and before leaving the office to return home, load up on some “readable” To Dos for on the plane.  Try saving up work for a few days and plan to complete it on the plane.
    • Have a plan before you leave!
  1. Be cognizant of the costs of travel and try to minimize them where possible.  As mentioned earlier, even if the client is covering your travel expenses, it shows good faith as a contractor to consider their costs.  Here are some of the ways to do that:
    • Never travel business class for work.
    • Try to book ahead and take advantage of special deals on airfares.  Also shop around between airlines, taking the cheapest flight rather than sticking with one airline to build your points/status.
    • Shop for hotels and take the best deals, never staying in the big name, big price places.  Use memberships (CAA) to get good rates, or use Hotwire and other services to help get a good rate.
    • Don’t eat at fancy restaurants as a general rule, but entertain clients in appropriate manner whenever possible!
  1. Travelling to another location should be all about maximizing your return on investment (both time and money).
    • Try to keep your regular activities to a minimum.
    • Spend time with the management and staff at the client’s site.
    • Take time to network with potential clients, partners or colleagues who live in the city you’re visiting.
    • Take advantage of training opportunities and local networking events where possible (Note:  This definitely requires advanced planning!)

Obviously there are times when things do not fall into place, but as a general rule, you can maximize the effectiveness of your visits and minimize the costs of your visit by using the above guidelines. As a side benefit, you’ll acquire some funny stories to tell about the airport experiences and some of the seedier hotels/motels you may find yourself in.

Do you have any additional tips to maximize your business travel?  What about funny stories from your own traveling experiences?  We’d love to hear them, so please leave a comment.