Although volunteering abroad is aimed at making a positive impact with local communities, it also has benefits for the volunteer.
Many young people wonder if a volunteer experience will make a difference on their university application. The answer is, of course!
In the words of Malcolm X , “Education is our passport to the future; for tomorrow belongs to those that prepare for it today”, and volunteering is an excellent way to become educated in a meaningful way.
In this post we’ll tell you why volunteering is great for your development, and how it will help with your university application and future employability.
Reasons to volunteer abroad
For almost 40 years, Harvard University has recommended that students take time off before applying to university. The reason being that it can make you more globally aware, broadens your views and understanding of critical issues, develops your skills and can make you more employable.
Travelling and volunteering abroad is a popular way to make time off more meaningful. It gives you the opportunity to learn more about yourself and the world you live in, while allowing you to make a positive contribution to global goals.
And, research has found that taking time off before applying to university improves students’ overall graduation rates and educational experience. Most students who took time off to volunteer indicated that they gained a clearer vision of their future career goals, went into their studies in a better frame of mind, and would do it all over again if given the chance!
Whether you get to travel for six days or six months, be sure to engage in activities that help you establish and further develop your personal, academic and career goals. This will mean that you’ll get the most out of any volunteer experience.
Gain new practical skills
Volunteering is exciting in that it lets you continue your education, and can even lead you down a completely new path of career exploration.
If you choose to volunteer in the future, you can gain a better understanding of the skills you’ll need to further your career, because practical experience gives you the type of insight that that theory can’t.
Reputable volunteer organisations hold orientation on-site at the beginning of each volunteer program. They also support their volunteers throughout the entire project.
This means that even if you’ve never tried something like scuba diving before, you can join a program and give it a go without worrying about your safety!
Develop your soft skills
When travelling and volunteering abroad, you get the chance to develop your soft skills, such as teamwork, leadership and listening skills.
When volunteering, you’ll also work towards the goals of the project you signed up for. But, it’s also important to think about the type of personal development you want to dedicate time to while abroad.
Here are some things you can do to work on your personal development while abroad:
- If you want to improve your writing skills, why not start a blog?
- If you want to test out your leadership skills, you could take charge of a project at your volunteer site.
- If you want to learn a new language, make sure to interact with local people often and take time to practise new words and phrases.
As you volunteer and explore abroad, you’ll come across new people and places that challenge and expand your ideas and beliefs. This is not a bad thing at all, in fact, this experience can put you ahead of the rest of the pack when applying to university.
So, a volunteer experience abroad counts in your favour when applying for university, but what about when it comes to landing a job?
International experience helps you become a global citizen, improves your intercultural interactions, and develops personal and professional skills. And, these attributes add to your employability in a big way. Let’s find out how.
A World of Experience is a report released by the British Council that discusses the benefits of international experience. It states that people with international experience are more flexible and adaptable in the workplace.
Experience abroad is often associated with things like having confidence in a foreign language, an understanding of a different society, and having innovative ideas. This is because an experience abroad helps you fine-tune your ability to collaborate and problem-solve.
While you are volunteering, you’ll also have ample opportunity to network with the volunteer organisation’s staff members, as well as other international volunteers and local people. Try to interact with as many people as possible, because your networking efforts can help you build contacts to land your future dream job.
By volunteering abroad you’ll end up with a university application that stands out from the crowd, and be able to build on your future career in a meaningful way.