The term “volunteering” is often seen as one-sided in that the skilled party is donating their skills to a benefiting organization – this could not be further from the truth. While giving is at the core of volunteering, volunteers reap benefits as well. Skills-based volunteering, also known as pro bono, brings new experiences, from learning a new language to exploring new locales. More importantly, there is a whole range of skills that can be gained from this brand of volunteering, which can significantly benefit professional development.
Overall, pro bono volunteering offers opportunities to:
- expand work-related experience
- develop new skills
- build a network and
- bring organizational success.
Skills Any Professional Can Develop By Volunteering Abroad:
1. Leadership Skills
Your time as a pro bono volunteer in a foreign country, and the challenges that come with working in a new environment, can provide you with insights that will allow your leadership skills to flourish. When working with a local partner organization, you may have the opportunity to try on a managerial role or work on higher-level projects than would be accessible in your day-to-day job. You will find yourself exposed to a lot of challenges, from navigating cross-cultural communication, to working in a new environment with unique limitations and obstacles. Learning to lead under these pressures will give you the opportunity to become a stronger, more confident professional.
2. Teamwork and Relationship Skills
Volunteering your individual skills abroad requires employees to work with a variety of stakeholders. Employees learn to work with new people from diverse backgrounds in a short period of time. Working with international teams at a partner organization sharpens your ability to build closer working relationships with people from different cultures and will help you to become an effective communicator with people from all corners of the globe. These skills are indispensable as the business world develops globally.
3. Building a Network
A local partner organization is a great venue to meet new like-minded professionals. Employees can later utilize this network not only to advance professionally, but to establish lasting relationships.
4. Enhanced Creativity
Engaging in pro bono overseas lets employees see things from a different perspective, specifically helping enhance their creativity and resourcefulness. Many studies have noted drops in creativity and happiness when people are stuck in repetitive routines. Volunteering allows you to get out of their comfort zones and can inspire you to find ways to include what you are passionate about into their daily life and work.
Volunteering abroad is also a great chance for you to grow as a person. Taking time away from the pressures of the 9-to-5 and exposing yourself to unfamiliar places and situations allows you the time and space to reflect and to uncover parts of themselves that were not able to shine through in the past. In fact, a huge chunk of people who decided to partake in volunteering cited that they were enticed by the benefit of gaining self-awareness. In today’s digital world, where everybody is constantly connected to the web, emails, and phones—volunteering abroad serves as the perfect escape from this vicious cycle, giving you the change to reflect and hone your skills, while having fun and impacting change. Life in another culture is also an experience you can only get from fully immersing yourself. The personal, organizational and social benefits of volunteering are endless.
Choose a Partner Organization Wisely
If you are thinking about volunteering your skills abroad, be sure to do your research and choose from sustainable, well-managed opportunities. Venture with Impact matches individuals, teams and companies from various industries with carefully-sourced skills-based opportunities with local organizations, currently running skills-based volunteer and travel programs for professionals in Chiang Mai (Thailand), Medellin (Colombia), and Lisbon (Portugal). Also check out our Soul Search & Career Development Retreat here.