Volunteering abroad is an amazing opportunity to give back whilst having the chance to travel the world, making it a win-win situation that also happens to look great on your CV. There are numerous projects in tons of countries to choose from that give you the chance to see the world from a new perspective, and allow you the time to squeeze in seeing the sights!
To get the most out of your time abroad it is important that the role you choose is the right fit for you! To help you make the best choice, we recommend 6 key things to consider when choosing a volunteering project to ensure you have the most fulfilling experience possible.
1. Where do I want to travel?
The obvious beauty of volunteering abroad is that you get to experience a place you may otherwise never get to explore, so it is important when researching volunteering opportunities that you pick somewhere you are actually interested in seeing. Whether you have always dreamt of trekking Machu Picchu in Peru, perusing the Christmas markets in Germany or enjoying the Californian sunshine, it is vital that your volunteering commitment coincides with this – after all, you want to be in a location where you can optimise your free time!
By making a list of countries you would love to experience, you can research projects running in these areas and think about the practicalities that come with going abroad … you don’t want to end up in Iceland and then remember that you hate freezing cold weather conditions!
2. What do I care about?
Don’t worry, this isn’t as philosophical as it sounds! If you have a passion, volunteering abroad is your time to act on it! If you feel strongly about the safety of endangered animals, or have a desire to fight for quality education worldwide for children, this is your opportunity to make a difference!
You will gain the most enjoyment volunteering in a sector that you truly care about, which will also help keep you motivated on the days you may be lagging or feeling homesick. When you are passionate about what you are doing, it will be even more rewarding to see the positive effect your presence has, and allow you to bond with other volunteers who are on the same wavelength!
3. How much time do I have?
There are volunteering schemes to fit everyone’s time frame, but is it important that you are realistic about how much time you are willing to dedicate to a project. Obviously the longer you stay, the greater impact you will have, but if you only have a few weeks available, don’t be deterred! Help is welcomed for any amount of time, and it is completely up to you how long you stay…but remember, the longer you stay, the more exploring you will be able to do! What’s more, a longer volunteering period shows an impressive level of dedication to future employers!
4. What is my budget?
Once you have settled on where your passions lie, and which country you want to tick off your bucket list, it is important to find a project that fits your budget. Whilst giving back is the obvious priority, it is important that the scheme fits your needs too – you need to be able to afford a plane ticket home after all! So bear cost in mind when researching different projects, and keep your budget in mind to avoid getting carried away!
5. How will this experience benefit me?
You are making a big commitment by volunteering abroad, so make sure it is the right role all round for you! Whether you are driven by pure passion for a project, want to boost your CV or are keen to push out of your comfort zone, it is important that you get something out of the experience alongside helping others. A volunteering project that assists you in achieving your goals is so much more worthwhile, so don’t forget about yourself when making a decision! Whatever your ambitions, we promise you’ll go home with some new friendships and amazing stories to tell!
6. Can this experience benefit my career?
Alongside all of the other amazing benefits, it is undeniable that a major plus of volunteering abroad is how great it looks on your CV! Volunteering abroad shows future employers that you are compassionate and motivated about volunteering, as well as demonstrating your independence, adaptability and ability to get up and go! Choosing a project that is relevant to your desired career choice, meaning you gain applicable skills, is a great way to stand out when applying for jobs and showing your passion!
So, bear these pointers in mind when researching and applying to volunteer abroad, and you are sure to be steered in the right direction!