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Can volunteering abroad boost your professional career?

The attraction factor of volunteering abroad is the potential to travel to an exciting destination, while making an impact in a local community. It goes without saying that the personal benefits you develop from volunteering abroad are immeasurable, but can volunteer abroad also boost your professional career? The answer is YES. Volunteer abroad experience will make your resume stand out among others, and unique experiences will always peak an employer’s interest. Here’s why.

Volunteering has no financial gain attached. Those who volunteer do so as a selfless act in wanting to make a positive impact on the people and communities they choose to volunteer with. While full-time work experience is definitely considered to be an asset to a prospective employee, an employer knows that the financial component was a likely a reason for accepting the job and getting the work done. Volunteers, on the other hand, work altruistically with a passion for giving back. And through that experience, volunteers gain some undeniable skills.

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Choose a Program Related to Your Career

When choosing a volunteer program, it is best to choose a program related to your career field so you gain valuable experience. Someone with a background in childhood education will likely choose to volunteer working with kids, and even better, working right inside the classroom. This volunteer will develop and polish the skills needed to work with children including lesson planning, classroom management, engagement through play, fostering relationships, and more. When placed correctly on a resume, these skills will catch the eye of an employer.

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Develop Your Professional Network

In addition to boosting your skills, volunteering abroad will also boost your professional network, and you know what they say, “your network is your net worth”. Your volunteer experience should place you in a position to build relationships with professionals in the field. Whether volunteering in the healthcare field, a constructions project, or eco-agriculture, you should have a direct contact with a professional who will train and guide you throughout your volunteer program. Working closely with these professionals will ensure that they can vouch for your strengths and abilities, and maintaining a good relationship with them will likely result in a quality reference that will make the difference in whether you are offered a position.

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Build Your Confidence

Traveling abroad to volunteer will have you navigating a new environment and culture. Stepping out of your comfort zone allows you to work on yourself–learn to deal with new situations, adjust to people who do things differently, build communication skills, learn to rely on yourself. Successfully handling these trying circumstances is sure to boost your confidence and self-efficacy, making you a shining candidate among others.

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Volunteering Creates Structure

When people go abroad for vacation, they might follow an itinerary which helps them to structure their time overseas. Volunteering will do the same, but with a professional component. Just like having a work routine, you will receive a volunteer schedule which you must abide by. This schedule forces you to plan your activities around your volunteer work, as participation and cooperation is expected in your volunteer program. Gone are the days of lazily lounging on the beach. A volunteer program forces you to act!

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A Sense of Personal Growth

A volunteer experience will provide you with insight into the realities of the local people and communities of a given country. While working alongside real people, volunteers often become more humble, compassionate, and empathetic encouraging you to seek solutions to problems that will serve those in need. Studies have shown that those who volunteer are happier, and feel a greater sense of purpose in their lives.