4 Reasons To Volunteer During Your Studies Abroad
There are many reasons to get involved in a worthy cause while you’re at university. Maybe you’re passionate about making a change in your community. Maybe you want to expand your social circle. Or maybe you want to take that first step towards a full-blown career in a charity or non-profit.
If you’re an international student learning a language or just starting out at university abroad, volunteering can help you build confidence, practice your new language skills and give you a more authentic look at life in your new city.
Still not convinced? Here are 4 reasons why you should volunteer during your studies abroad.
1. You’ll get first-hand experience in a subject that interest you
Historically, students have been an integral part of inspiring social change across the world. Those who are giving back today are supported by a long, illustrious history of activists and passionate people who took action to make a clear and tangible difference in their community.
Really think about what you’re passionate about. Maybe it’s supporting the arts or maybe it’s human rights. You could be an animal enthusiast or looking to help the less fortunate in your city. No matter the subject, there’s likely to be a non-profit or campus group that supports that. To explore the full benefits you need to get involved in something that truly inspires and motivates you. And if it’s something you see yourself doing full-time, volunteering during your studies can be a route to future employment in that field.
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2. It’s a clear path towards a future career
According to the Institute for Volunteering (IVR), 51% of recent graduates under the age of 30 stated that volunteering helped them secure employment after university. Just think about all the valuable skills you’ll develop through your volunteering efforts. You’ll improve your problem-solving capabilities, learn to work to a deadline and fine-tune your ability to thrive as part of a team. On top of all this, you’ll also drastically improve your communication by gaining a better understanding of how to integrate empathy in sensitive situations.
This is also a great space to build on skills you’ve been developing during your studies. Whether you’re looking to improve your public speaking or practice your new English skills, volunteer work puts you right in the thick of things and gives you a great platform to start putting these skills to use.
So, the next time you’re asked for concrete examples of your skills in a job interview, you can draw from experiences had during your volunteering efforts and wow hiring managers with the breadth of experience you gained before even entering the workforce.
3. You’ll meet amazing and passionate new people
Making friends during university can be a bit of a daunting task, especially if you’re an international student. By plunging head first into social events and volunteer activities, you’ll increase your chances of meeting people with similar interests. Even beyond that, you’ll be building a personal community. According to the IVR, 74% of students experience a wider range of friendships through volunteer efforts. Not only are you meeting new people, but you’re meeting people who share your passions and are working to drive the same change.
Similarly, student volunteer experience increases your understanding of other people. It helps to develop a social awareness and integrates you into the local community outside your university or school. It’s a great way to break out of the student bubble and get to know more local people. These are not only new friendships – they’re useful contacts to add to your professional network a bit further down the line.
4. You’ll experience a ‘helper’s high’
During busy term times and exam periods, it helps to have an activity that makes you feel good and allows you to de-stress. Volunteering is a great way to do this. When you go out of your way to help others, you’re fueling the reward pathway in your brain otherwise known as the mesolimbic system. This releases a buzz brought on by the “feel-good” neurotransmitters oxytocin and vasopressin –often referred to as the “helper’s high”.
According to Dr. Michael Bowen of the University of Sydney, “Empathy has been shown to elevate oxytocin levels in blood plasma, with higher levels of empathy and oxytocin being associated with increased generosity.”
This ultimately feeds into a feel-good cycle, in which oxytocin makes you more generous and being more generous produces more oxytocin – it’s a win-win situation! And even beyond that, this “helper’s high” is contagious. If a person is feeling the positive effects from their volunteer efforts, it’s likely to spread to others around them who in turn are inspired to give back as well.
Whether you’re looking to beef up your resume or de-stress during busy term times, volunteering has been proven to be good for both your body and your mind. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start making a difference – and don’t forget to mention all the good you did in your next job interview!
This content was provided by CharityJob, the largest and most specialized job board for the charity and not-for-profit sector in the UK.