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The basics
Study abroad : Career Prospects

What are the benefits of volunteering abroad?

Volunteering abroad is a way in which you can help enrich the lives and communities around the world, but it also provides you with an opportunity to help advance your career goals. We show you why.

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Studying abroad will most definitely change your life and set you on the path to a successful career but did you know that doing voluntary work abroad can too? Volunteering is where a person gives their time (free from payment) doing something that benefits the environment, individuals, or groups. International students can benefit from the many types of volunteering opportunities in many ways. 


What types of volunteering abroad programmes are there?


Programmes cover a wide range of areas and fields, including:

  • Humanitarian – from teaching, public health and sport to women’s rights, construction, and education.
  • Environment and conservation – marine conservation, climate change research, plastic pollution prevention, farming, wildlife, and animal care.


What are the benefits of volunteering abroad?


personal benefits


One final personal benefit, which is an incredibly important one, is that the experience allows you to have a much clearer idea of the professional path you can follow. You can volunteer in an area that interests you and could be your chosen career path. The volunteering experience can help you understand if that is the path you want to follow. Or it may help you to realise that although it was an area that greatly interests you, a career may not suit you. Whatever the outcome, that knowledge is vital. 


What are the professional benefits of volunteering?


The personal benefits are important, but the professional benefits of having the experience of volunteering abroad are incredible. 


Knowledge - Depending on your choice of voluntary work (protecting the environment, animal protection, humanitarian support and teaching) you gain an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter and area you are working in. This can be valuable to your course if you are still at university and in your future career. 


Work experience – You’ll gain experience working in a professional environment. That will make your application and your CV/resume stand out from other candidates applying for the same jobs. The experience and skills (see below) are the kind of skills that employers are looking for in future graduates.  


Networking – You’ll meet a wide range of people from all over the world and from different professions. This is a very useful networking opportunity. It can help you contact other professionals. You may even be able to ask one of them to write you a reference when applying for jobs in the future.  



  • Communication
  • Interpersonal – the ability to communicate and interact with people
  • Teamwork
  • Time management
  • Managing a team
  • Negotiating
  • Ability to assess situations
  • Problem-solving
  • Learning a new language
  • Improving your English language
  • Patience
  • Self-confidence


All of these skills will help you find the right study abroad course and career for you.


Things you should know


It’s important to consider some things before looking at your options for volunteering abroad.

Visa implications – if you’re currently studying abroad, your student visa may not allow you to volunteer abroad. It may also not allow you to do voluntary work in the country you’re currently studying in. 

For example, in the UK volunteering may be regarded as ‘voluntary work’, which is not allowed on a student visa. When your Student visa is issued, you will be told what you can and can’t do.

You can volunteer in Australia as part of your student visa (subclass 500) and temporary relaxation of working hours for student visas means there is currently no limit on the number of hours you can work. 

In Canada, volunteer work where a person would not normally be paid is considered incidental or not the main reason why the person is in Canada. It is allowed under their student visa scheme. 

Volunteering abroad is work – it’s hard, tiring and challenging at times.

You are very involved in the culture and the environment you will be working in. This can sometimes be very difficult physically and emotionally.

It isn’t free. You must pay to become a volunteer for many organisations worldwide. These organisations are mainly not-for-profit. So, your fees help them pay for accommodation, administration and living costs during your stay. The fees also help support the programme’s cause: for example, feeding animals, building infrastructure, or education.


What to look for


When choosing an organisation, it’s important to choose those which have ethical and responsible volunteering as part of their core principles. Volunteering programmes should ensure that their goals benefit both people and the planet. Organisations should ideally be members of the Volunteer Groups Alliance that partners with the United Nations










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