20 Apr How volunteering abroad can help land your dream job

Volunteering can be a vital ‘hack’ in breaking the oppressive cycle of needing experience for a job and needing a job for experience facing so many new grads. The experience received abroad can give you the essential skills needed to ignite your career path. After all, who wouldn’t want to hire a person who is driven by the willingness to have an impact, who can develop creative solutions to complex problems and who has a high degree of empathy and capacity to work across cultures?

As a professional working in the international development sector, I come across extremely talented individuals, almost every week, looking to break into their careers: a position that not only pays the bills, but more significantly, that allows them to grow, to learn and to have a meaningful impact. Often, they have higher education, are fluent in more than one language and have already developed a high degree of intercultural competency…. So, what’s the issue? Why aren’t they landing the job of their dreams? The answer is that we are currently in a very competitive job market where highly talented individuals are all competing for a limited amount of positions that prize work experience above all. So, how do you hack the system?

Building a Network

Several students and young professionals have successfully utilized the traditional networking platforms of information sessions, career fairs, speaking engagements and LinkedIn channels to learn of new opportunities as well as gain access to a willing professional’s insightful advice. I can say that these old techniques are still effective in our increasingly interconnected world. Most of the time, taking that extra step to inquire about the organization you want to work for, or connecting with a professional influencer, can place you in front of the right person making that important hiring decision. Be proactive about your professional goals and start building a professional network of people and organizations you would like to connect with. Better yet, volunteer your time and prove to them that you are a competent and capable employee driven to expand your experience.

Volunteering Abroad

An increasingly, innovative ‘hack’ that allows you to tackle your career development in a different way is to volunteer abroad. Speaking from my own experience working in various management positions, few other assets can rival with the real-world, field experience gained with a reputable organization. Volunteering not only affirms your passion to dedicate your skills and talent to solving increasingly complex issues, it also helps build and demonstrate creativity and resilience to cope with all the challenges associated to living and working abroad in addition to thriving in unfamiliar settings. International experience provides a foundational skill set that will prove invaluable in almost all professional roles regardless of your career orientation. Who wouldn’t want to hire a knowledgeable AND experienced person who has a drive to make a meaningful impact, who can develop creative solutions to complex problems and who has a high degree of empathy and capacity to work across cultures?

Lifelong Learner

Volunteering can also help develop the essential skill of utilizing your capacity to continually challenge yourself to learn and grow throughout your lifetime.  You may have read of the potential impact artificial intelligence and other technological innovations will have on future jobs and the claims that many students today will work in positions not yet created. To thrive in this uncertain future, it’s essential to maintain that learning muscle to gain the necessary skills, attitudes and behaviours that will facilitate a successful integration into these jobs of tomorrow.

Having worked in international development for over 12 years, I know that volunteering abroad can give you the essential experience, skills and network opportunities necessary to break the conundrum of no experience = no job = no experience to land your dream job. In this competitive, ever-changing job market, it is going to take innovation, passion and dedication to stand out to prospective hiring managers. Set yourself apart while setting yourself up for your future by gaining essential experience and making a meaningful impact on sustainable development abroad.

Join Canadian leaders in global youth development, Canada World Youth and Youth Challenge International, to get your real-world experience while sharing your expertise and collaborating with young people around the globe. Learn more about how you can help make a positive impact in youth livelihoods with EQWIP HUBs at one our 18 urban locations in Bolivia, Ghana, Indonesia, Peru, Senegal and Tanzania.

Learn more about our current volunteer opportunities

Nadia Ponce Morales has over 12 years experience in the international development sector. An original member of the design team for the EQWIP HUBs project, she is now spearheading the development of new partnerships and initiatives that will attract young talents to volunteer at one of EQWIP HUBs 18 international locations.

Having previously worked for global leaders in sustainable development, such as Canada World Youth and SUCO, she has successfully applied her knowledge and expertise in the creation of initiatives and projects that benefit youth and women in over 15 international countries. Nadia holds a Master’s in International Relations and a Graduate Diploma in Management and Sustainable Development.