If you’ve ever wondered, when someone told you about taking a volunteer trip abroad, how is it any different from a regular vacation, this article is a must read for you. One of the many benefits of volunteering abroad that goes unnoticed most of the times is the career skill enhancement that it helps with.
Yes! A volunteer program allows you to not only help build communities and give it back to the society but also sharpen your skills along the way; that’d help you in your career prospects.
Wondering how exactly?!
Here is a list of career skills that you either gain or improve upon on a large scale during a volunteer trip abroad;
1. Problem Solving
Traveling abroad throws all sorts of curve balls your way. You’ll need to think on your feet, adapt quickly to unforeseen situations and roll with the punches.
Handling a batch of kids while teaching at a village school in Ghana, or overcoming the language barriers while volunteering in India — these problems will require you to be anything but complacent.
Navigating issues abroad—while possibly a nightmare at the time—provides practical experience and skills that you can transfer back to the workplace in order to become an invaluable member of the team.
2. Intercultural Awareness
It’s not unknown that traveling helps you become more culturally aware and sensitive. It is an eye opener to the vast and varied cultures that are actually out there.
The unique quality of a volunteer trip abroad allows you to interact with the natives of the destination you are volunteering at. Letting you understand their culture and lifestyle more closely.
This would help you in your job in a number of ways. You may be doing work with clients who live abroad; you (hopefully) have colleagues who come from a number of different backgrounds; and your office likely has its very own work culture.
The ability to adapt and empathize with other cultures is essential both abroad and in the office.
3. Team Building and Managing
While volunteering abroad one gets to meet a number of like-minded volunteers from across the world. You may have several companions working on the same project. This will be an opportunity to work as a team with people you have never met before.
How you manage and work as a team will bring out your leadership qualities; and needless to say how helpful that can be on professional lines.
You have to figure out common goals and learn how to compromise so everyone gets to have an enjoyable experience.
4. Decision Making
Do you sometimes find it difficult to make a correct and fast decision?
Traveling to volunteer abroad helps you to do it quickly and easily. You simply have no time to hesitate. You learn to think quicker and take the right decisions quicker.
There may occur several different instances during your sojourn that’d require a prompt decision to be made. Be it as small as buying a souvenir at the vendor’s quoted price or try and negotiate further, or as huge as whether or not to extend your stay at the volunteer destination.
First of all, you should prioritize goals, think what you should do to reach them and then choose the most preferable and suitable option for you.
5. Time Management
One of the skills that can make or break your sanity is the efficient use of time; there just never seems to be enough of it!
Time management doesn’t only involve getting things done in the allotted time, it also involves prioritizing, setting goals, working smarter, though not necessarily harder, and also leaving time for yourself to enjoy life outside of volunteer work.
From being on time for your program, trying to see as many sites on a quick weekend getaway or, exploring an entire city, traveling, like work, involves calculation, to-do lists, and smart goals.
So you’ve spent more than 15 – 20 years of your life (most volunteer travelers are high school or college students) in an urban shed of New York city. Volunteering in an elephant village on the outskirts of Surin in Thailand for couple of weeks or more might come as a challenging adaptation.
Volunteer opportunities are provided, mainly, in developing or underdeveloped countries; and, that too, generally in the rural or remote areas. Plus, the fact that it is an entirely new soil, with different culture, food habits, time schedules, language, social behaviors, and more.
Being adaptable and flexible can also help you with your stress management skills.
7. Socializing and Networking
When traveling abroad to volunteer, you spend a lot of time communicating with other volunteers, who have arrived from different parts of the world, and local people.
This way, you improve your social skills and your career overall with little to no effort.
Researches show that people who have great social skills get promoted faster than those who can hardly say a professional word. Does it sound like a good reason to me to take a volunteer trip?
Interacting with people from different corners of the world will undoubtedly make you a better listener, more compassionate, more willing to understand others, and better at communicating.
There might be times of stressful situations during your volunteer trip. You don`t know the location, people, and language so you can’t avoid being in one. You may find people glaring and passing comments while on the road or in the market. Someone can steal your wallet and you may just get lost somewhere.
However, try to ignore those stressful signs and learn to focus on having fun when you travel. This skill can help you find more happy and fun ways to cope with stress at work.
In my opinion, these 8 skills are the most important skills you will need in any profession to do a good job, besides your technical know-how.
What do you guys think? Do you agree, disagree ?
Are there any skills you have developed while traveling or volunteering abroad? Share your thoughts. Keep Traveling!