We recently kicked off a series of workshops on how to “be your own bodyguard” at Antioch College, to help students stay safe during their internships. While this series was focused on college students, the theme applies to everyone.

In an unfamiliar place

You move to a new city, country, or tiny village. All alone.

You have three months and three major goals
1) survive  2) make connections  3) gain valuable work experience.

Thousands of young people across the country do this regularly as part of their formal college education, in the form of internships. At Antioch it is a full third of their four year education. No matter your age and life skill set- being in a new location maybe even with a new language or cultural, can be exciting, confusing, liberating, and even dangerous.

If I were a parent I would want to send a bodyguard with my kid.

However, most of us can’t afford to to do that.

So Situation Handled decided to take a page from bodyguard training and share it with a group of Antioch College students to help them prepare.

How To Be Your Own Bodyguard

Professional bodyguards don’t just jump in front of bullets. In fact the bodyguard protects their “principle” from the following, in order of importance:


  • Intentional Harm
  • Accidental Harm
  • Embarrassment
  • Inconvenience

College students need the same protection.

In our translating of the professional bodyguard principles to these soon -to-be-adventurers, we gave them tools to make themselves, what we call in bodyguard speak, a “hard target”, or someone who is a difficult victim for violent crime. Someone who looks (and is) Confident and Aware.

Here are a few important starter questions you can ask in order to be your own bodyguard:

#1 How are you presenting yourself to the world?

A good victim is one who is distracted or looks less than confident. Don’t let yourself be distracted when you are alone. Don’t Look like a good victim.

#2 How are those around you presenting themselves?

Understand the signals that you are receiving from other people’s body language, tone of voice, and style of dress. If the words they use and the tone of voice don’t seem to match up, something could be wrong.

#3 What is your intuition telling you?

Your “intuition” is really subconcious awareness. Listen to it! You can always analyse or choose to re-engage later.

#4 What’s your back up plan?

In a new place I always have a $20 bill, the telephone number of someone I know in the area, and the address where I am staying in a safe place not in my purse (I like to tape it inside my shoe).

While these ideas are just a starting point, they are vital ones if you want to be your own bodyguard, or even if you want to be someone else’s bodyguard. And the same skills that keep us safe, can also help us excel. When a young person has the opportunity to travel for work in this way, it can be a massive stepping stone for success in their career. Remember, being prepared means having a plan.

Be Safe.

Plan. Prepare. Excel.