How International Travel and Volunteering Abroad Boosts your CV, Career Prospects & Personal Development

Published 26/07/2017

International travel, volunteering abroad and gap years are often focused around helping communities and those in need. From wildlife conservation projects to youth and sports volunteering, people offer their time and efforts to make a difference. This humbling approach to helping others while you travel is a truly rewarding way to spend your time.

But, do these experiences also create benefits for those volunteering? We certainly believe they do and we’ve created this little guide to help showcase just some of the benefits our volunteers have experienced while volunteering in Fiji.

We believe in volunteering experiences that provide incredible benefits and experiences for both the local communities as well as the volunteers themselves.

International volunteering, whether it’s part of a gap year, career break or just a summer adventure, can create life-changing experiences. These experiences are likely to have a significant impact on your personal life, career opportunities and personal development. International travel can be the catalyst and boost you’ve been looking for.

So, what kind of benefits does international volunteering and travelling create?

Improving your CV while Travelling Abroad for Gap Year and Uni Students

This is by no means an exhausted list. This is just a few ways your planned volunteering experience can benefit your CV and career opportunities.

Work Experience

Volunteering abroad can give you work experience that simply isn’t possible in the UK. Whatever subject you are studying, there are elements of a Think Pacific project that will give you invaluable work experience.

The video below tells the story of Danny, who volunteered with Think Pacific back in 2012. It’s clear to see what an impact volunteering and sports coaching abroad has had on him and his opportunities for the future!

Network/Meet Interesting People

International travel and gap years give you the chance to meet lots of new people and expand your network. From other volunteers on your project to locals in the places you visit, these connections can lead to more opportunities in the future. Having a large network is always going to be seen positively on a CV.

Expose you to new ideas, cultures and experiences

Getting exposure to new places and their people will give you more experiences about how people and businesses around the world function. These type of experiences are extremely valuable and great to highlight on a CV.

For example, being able to communicate what you’ve learnt from seeing local Fijian businesses operate, would certainly make your CV stand out from the crowd.

Interesting stories and experiences to talk about in interviews

Every gap year student or backpacker has an array of interesting stories and experiences to share. These experiences and being able to link them back to your career goals and aspirations will set you apart from other candidates.

Foreign Language

Although you’re unlikely to become fluent in a foreign language on a gap year or volunteering project, you’re bound to pick up at least some words and sentences. Being able to showcase this in job applications shows you are interested in learning and progressing your knowledge.

It can also be a talking point – how many applicants can say they speak Fijian?

Unique experiences to stand out in competitive job markets

Whether it’s sky diving, snorkelling coral reefs, trekking jungles or contributing to community development aims, these experiences are unique and help highlight you and your CV. Having a memorable CV and application is a great way to get noticed and remembered.

Decision making and priorities

Travelling forces people to make decisions and prioritise what they want to do. This in itself is worth highlighting and shows someone who knows what they want to do and can action this.

Gain new skills

There are so many skills you can learn and develop while travelling. From soft skills, like communication and leadership, to more specific skills such as teaching and sports coaching; volunteering abroad gives you a platform to gain lots of new skills. These can all be highlighted on a CV.

How to Travel and Boost your CV

As shown in the points above, travelling abroad and volunteering can definitely provide useful things to discuss and mention on your CV. These are all likely to help progress your career and give you more opportunities professionally.

To successfully travel and boost your CV at the same time, it requires you to pick something that is challenging and will create unique stories/experiences for you to talk about. You also want to pick something that is meaningful to you. If you like sports, coach sports abroad, if you like doing arts and crafts with kindergarten kids, do that. You’ll be able to find a project that gives you the chance to enjoy yourself and gain experiences that’ll help boost your CV.

But for us here at Think Pacific, international volunteering isn’t just about quantifiable things you can write down on a CV. International volunteering provides experiences that offer personal development and life-changing experiences that go well beyond careers and CVs.

Improving your Personal Development while Travelling Abroad

Again, this list is far from exhausted but provides just a few examples from things our volunteers have experienced while in Fiji. It demonstrates the type of experiences a student or career breaker can have while travelling abroad.

Confidence – you’ll gain so much confidence while travelling abroad. Navigating yourself around the world will make things you thought were difficult and scary, seem like a walk in the park.
Being out of your comfort zone – being out of your comfort zone is a great thing. It forces you to learn quickly and get used to dealing with pressure and stress. This is a vital skill that can make you tackle future problems with ease.
Overcoming Challenges and Problem Solving – developing practical problem solving skills is great for both career and personal development. Learning how to react to challenges and problems will mean you are better equipped to deal with whatever life throws at you.
Gives you time to think and reflect – we can all get too absorbed with daily life and routine so having time to sit back and relax can be very good for the soul. It gives you time to reflect and think about recent events/life.
Humbling – spending time with communities around the world is a very humbling experience. It can put everything into perspective and make you appreciate the little things in life.
Improves Communication – learning how to effectively communicate in foreign languages or with different cultures can make regular communication seem like a breeze. Improving the way you communicate is a fundamental skill that’ll help in all walks of life.
Improves Financial Planning – learning how to budget effectively and plan for future activities while travelling is a great way to practice for financial planning in the future. Learning how to do this will mean that when you have to start paying for bills/mortgage, you already have practical experience of saving/budgeting.
Develops Leadership – even without realising it, most gap years and volunteering projects will develop lots of leadership qualities. Learning how to listen effectively and then communicate what is required to do are fundamental to leadership. These kind of qualities are developed and refined while travelling abroad and working with lots of different people.
Learn About Yourself – travelling abroad will teach you lots about yourself. You’ll learn when you feel out of your comfort zone and learn what you truly enjoy doing.

Need Ideas for Improving your CV and Personal Development with Travel?

If you agree that volunteering abroad and international travel are amazing ways to develop and showcase yourself to employers, then why not have a look at a project to the Fiji Islands. Get in touch with us today and we’ll show you why Fiji holds all the answers to your volunteering aspirations.

Does Fiji sound like your ideal gap year destination?
Here's what to do next: