Taking a Career Break to Volunteer Abroad

Taking a career break to volunteer abroad is a great way to break from your routine and make a positive impact in the world.

Not only will you be able to immerse yourself in a new culture and meet new people, but you will also have the opportunity to learn new skills and gain a fresh perspective on life.

In this blog post, we will explore the many benefits of taking a sabbatical to volunteer abroad and provide you with tips to make the most of your experience.

Benefits of Volunteering Abroad During Your Career Break

Volunteering abroad during your career break can have numerous benefits, both personally and professionally. Some of the benefits include:

  • Personal growth: You will have the opportunity to challenge yourself, step out of your comfort zone, and learn new things about yourself.
  • New perspective: You will gain a new perspective on life, taking you out of your comfort zone to see the world and your life from a different perspective.
  • Cultural immersion: Living and working in a foreign country will expose you to new cultures, customs, and languages.
  • Skill development: You can gain new skills, such as teaching, construction, or healthcare, that may be valuable in your career or personal life.
  • Networking: You will meet people from all over the world and expand your professional and personal network.
  • Impact: You will have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others, which can be incredibly rewarding.
Volunteering with elephants"
Volunteer serving breakfast in Cambodia"

Preparing for Your Sabbatical: What You Need to Know

Before embarking on your volunteer sabbatical, it's important to prepare and plan accordingly. This includes researching different volunteer programs, obtaining necessary visas and vaccinations, and ensuring you have adequate funds to support your trip. You may also need to make arrangements for your job, housing, and personal affairs before you leave.

There are many different types of volunteer opportunities all around the world. You should choose to volunteer in area that interests you. This could be working with children, helping wildlife, in consevation, at an elephant sanctuary or helping rescued dogs.

There are also many volunteer organisations to choose from. Many that you will encounter are for-profit companies, but you can also find great non-profit organisations working overseas with volunteers. Choosing the right volunteer organisation is a very important task at the start of your journey. You should choose a reputable and ethical organisation and try to look through the slick marketing to make your decision.

Volunteer in Conservation in the Peruvian Amazon"
Baby sea turtle and volunteer in Costa Rica"

Short- or long-term volunteering

Short-term volunteering abroad typically refers to volunteer opportunities that last a few weeks to a few months. These opportunities are ideal for individuals who may have limited time or resources, but still want to make a positive impact. Short-term volunteering can be a great way to gain new skills, experience a new culture, and meet new people.

On the other hand, long-term volunteering abroad refers to volunteer opportunities that last several months to a year or more. Long-term volunteering can offer a more immersive experience, allowing volunteers to truly integrate into the local community and make a more significant impact. While long-term volunteering requires more commitment and planning, it can provide a deeper sense of fulfilment and personal growth. Ultimately, the choice between short or long-term volunteering abroad depends on individual goals, interests, and availability.

Those looking for longer term volunteering should also search for internships abroad. Internships are not only for the younger generation, but many organisations also accept mature interns with years of work experience.

Volunteer with a Sloth"
Cambodia Community Volunteer"

Making the Most of Your Volunteer Experience: What to Expect

For many people, volunteering abroad is a transformative experience that can have a profound impact on their lives. However, it is important for volunteers to approach their experience with an open mind and realistic expectations. While it may be tempting to think that one person can change the world in just a few weeks, the reality is that volunteering is a process that requires time, patience, and commitment. That being said, with the right mindset, volunteers can leave their experience feeling fulfilled and satisfied with the impact they were able to make.

It is common for volunteers to experience a settling-in period during their first week, as they adjust to their new surroundings and role at the project. However, over time, most volunteers become more effective in their roles and are able to provide a valuable service to the project.

Womens Empowerment Group"
Volunteer at the Peru Shelter"

Post-Volunteering: Reflections, Lessons Learned, and Next Steps

Upon completing a volunteer sabbatical abroad, taking time to reflect on the experience and lessons learned is essential. For many, the opportunity to volunteer abroad can be a life-altering experience that challenges and changes their perspectives on life in the developed world. It can bring a sense of contentment and gratitude, as volunteers come to appreciate their relative privileged position in the world.

In some cases, the experience can be so transformative that volunteers opt for a new career path or even a new place to live. At Globalteer, we have witnessed many instances of ex-volunteers joining our non-profit organisation, having been inspired to follow a new path in the non-profit sector. Such changes can be intimidating, but ultimately can be incredibly fulfilling and rewarding.

Volunteers at the Borneo Marine and Coral Conservation project"
Volunteer elephant selfie"