5 reasons why now is the best time to volunteer

Posted: 15th of February 2017 by Nerys Montana


Restless ICS volunteers Ali Beni and Suzie Bennett in South Africa


If you’ve decided not to go to university then there’s no better time to think about how volunteering could boost your career options – whatever stage you’re at in life.

It doesn’t matter if you’re working a steady job since finishing school or still not sure what to do next. Going away to volunteer can help you achieve your personal goals and give you that stand-out CV you need to get ahead.


1. Only a third of undergrads are getting value for money

Swapping the classroom for overseas volunteering is more appealing than ever


Tuition fees are about to face another hike, with an eye-watering £10,000 price tag soon to hit those about to start their uni experience. But can the huge debt be worth it? According to recent research, maybe not: just a third of students think their studies are relevant to the workplace.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Students are turning to volunteering programmes like ICS, which offers three-month funded placements – handy, right? Skills-based volunteering overseas is so good for your career, it’s even been called ‘the next executive training ground’ by leading researchers. 


2. Less of us are backpacking than ever before

ICS volunteers on a rally in Malawi


‘Sun, sea and sand holidays’ have fallen down the young traveller’s agenda, according to a study of 34,000 people across the world, who are realising there’s more to travel than beach parties and a week with the lads in Zante.

Volunteering offers another option. From running dance workshops raising HIV awareness in Nepal to leading youth rallies on social change in Malawi, it’s possible to do something that really makes an impact – while having a great time. What’s more, you’ll come out of the other end with an array of new skills.


3. Who knows where volunteering may take you

ICS returned volunteer Takyiwa at the Girls' Education Forum


For volunteer Takyiwa Danso, ICS gave her the confidence and opportunities to go on and do amazing things for groups she feels passionately about. After coming back from her placement in Kenya, she’s been (and going) all over the place – from Downing Street to the UN in New York.

Fellow alumni Mo has also moved onwards and upwards. ICS taught him to believe in himself and since returning from Malawi last year, he pushed for a promotion at work. As a result, he’s now on a fast-paced managerial scheme where he could soon end up an area manager.


4. Getting the best in global development

There’s no shortage of overseas volunteering opportunities out there that’ll take all your hard-earned cash. ICS is different – it’s funded by the UK Government and open to all young people. You don’t need money, skills or qualifications, just the ambition to make a difference.

If you’re thinking about a career in development or just looking for something to do next, it’s the best place to make your first steps. You’ll work alongside local volunteers, stay in host homes and make a real and measurable contribution to the communities you live in. And afterwards you carry on that change right here in the UK.


5. Learn about another community

VSO ICS volunteers Romana and Rebecca sit on the front step with their host mum Bibi preparing the evening meal in Lindi, Tanzania.

Volunteering abroad is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture and learn about people's livelihoods outside the UK. ICS is a two-way exchange: our volunteers are placed on programmes where they have as much to give as they have to learn.

And whether it’s Swahili or Spanish, Hindi or Hausa, our volunteers get an amazing chance to learn or practice the language in the 20 countries we work across. If you’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and do something different, volunteering abroad might be just what you’ve been looking for.


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