Among the most-valued experiences in the first quarter of the 21st century is travelling. The amount of foreign countries visited is a sort of an indicator, showing a person’s open-mindedness, readiness for change, mobility, and curiosity. Although travelling across the globe is not cheap, there are ways to make it not just less expensive, but also combine it with some useful activities; one of such ways is volunteering. Of course, one can become a volunteer in their native country, but it is volunteering abroad that has become the most favored way of helping people around the world. And there exists a number of solid reasons for this.
The most obvious one is career perspectives. Becoming a volunteer is something that by definition does not involve receiving a salary, so for some people this might be a stopper; “What, waste my time on a job that does not pay off? No way.” This is what these people are likely to think. However, the truth is that volunteering can in fact boost one’s career, not slow it down; it helps a person become a more diverse and innovative personality, acquire a range of unique skills, and in general create a positive impression when doing job hunting upon return. Research conducted in 2015 showed that recruiters tend to prefer a candidate’s volunteering experience over personal presentation skills, literacy, or even other work-related skills. According to another study by the British Council, the experience of working or volunteering abroad benefit both those who look for a job, and their potential employers (gvi.co.uk). This is due to the fact that volunteering is, in fact, a cheaper and more effective way to obtain valuable skills: instead of attending classes, a person learns and immediately applies new knowledge “in the field.” These skills can vary in a wide range: giving presentations for an organization, fundraising, event planning, completing specific projects, and so on (Cheat Sheet). So, although on the surface volunteering may look like “working for free,” in fact it is a great investment in one’s future career.
A volunteering program is also a great opportunity to meet new people and broaden your network of useful connections. While volunteering for a long term, you will meet a lot of new people working under the same conditions as you do; making friends with them might be something you would want to do. These people most likely possess valuable skills that they could teach you; they could know about additional volunteering or career opportunities; finally, they could literally help you find a job, since they most likely know the right people, or at least can provide you with strong references (Cheat Sheet). In addition, volunteering is a great way to make new friends, so this is yet another reason why applying to different international programs is a good choice.
Along with career perspectives, volunteering also has a number of surprising positive health effects. Studies show that those who participate in such programs tend to be healthier than those who do not, and enjoy life more. People who used to volunteer tend to have an increased lifespan, their psychological well-being is more stable, and their bodies remain functional for a longer period of time. Besides, volunteering gives a person a sense of purpose—something that is highly valued from the mental health perspective—and helps a person achieve self-fulfillment, use beneficial opportunities, and reach their goals (Psychology Today). Since volunteering is by definition a non-paid job, people get involved in it for a stronger motivation than just money: they maintain contact with what is the most important to them, what they are concerned about, and what they would want to change. So, volunteering can help you find not just a job, but yourself; by trying out various programs you can find out how you feel about certain problems, find what you love, and make your contribution to making the world a better place.
While being a great way to travel around the world, volunteering is not all just about that. It is a great way to connect with new people, find opportunities, obtain new knowledge and skills, and contribute to solving some of the most pressing issues of modernity. Possessing the experience of volunteering is a valuable asset when doing job hunting; it is also a great way to discover yourself, boost your health, and live a fulfilled life with a sense of purpose. Therefore, volunteering is something that can be recommended to everyone.