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The Professional Rewards for Volunteers Abroad
No matter how you cut the volunteering cake, those who have had the opportunity to get a taste of it feel they have taken away from it just as much, if not more, than they have given to the communities they worked with.
For many volunteers, though, the rewards are not just personal but professional. The experience of working overseas through an organisation such as Projects Abroad Canada has not been a break from work, but something that has polished their CVs, sharpened their professional skills and opened the door to new career opportunities. How could you be professionally rewarded by working on an international charity project?
Of course it takes commitment to work in challenging circumstances overseas but many people use the experience of volunteering abroad to clearly signpost their commitment to a profession they wish to move into.
For one volunteer Africa was the perfect place to work on a medical project that could clearly reveal her commitment to a career in nursing. For another working in a local school improving children’s English was a sure-fire way to signpost his interest in a career in teaching.
For those looking to go to universities to study marine biology, a spell in Madagascar helping protect the sea life of the reefs could make their application really stand out. There are many ways that volunteering can help you to reveal your dedication and commitment to so much more than just the philanthropic cause itself.
Volunteering is an exciting way to gain useful experience and skills in a number of fields: education, journalism, social work, animal care, health care, marketing, politics and web design. These skills are all transferrable from the project they have been learnt on to the workplace back home.
For some volunteers the work they do has led directly to paid jobs with the NGO or charity they are placed with. Others have viewed the experience as an ‘intern’ opportunity in a field that is new to them. For many it is a chance to work in a country that interests them and that could influence their decision to look for work in this country. Volunteering can help open new career pathways.
The opportunity to volunteer can be used as the chance to learn a new language. Many projects build this opportunity into the projects they offer with the provision of study time and resources while the volunteer works abroad.
Employers in today’s global economy actively seek those with language skills, and having a second language can be instrumental in securing a new position or new responsibilities.
If volunteering is indeed a double-edged sword, it is one that can give you the professional edge. While many employers look for relevant experience on a CV, they are also looking for evidence of commitment, determination, independence and someone who can provide that something extra. Volunteering helps to give you this edge by making you stand out from the CV crowd.