As graduating college students count down the days towards graduation, they start preparing their resumes with everything they have built over the past few years. This one-page paper can mean getting their dream job or going from office-to-office and not receiving a single call back. Throughout their college lives, these students have ventured into organizations to strengthen their leadership skills, joined internships to secure added value for their professional lives, and have taken numerous courses to gain better understanding and leverage in their chosen fields.
If you are a graduating student, one of the things that can be included in your portfolio is your volunteer background, which can include various projects within and outside the borders of your own country. These volunteer activities are often relevant to your respective fields or your personal advocacies. Some students often overlook volunteering opportunities because they believe that they can spend their time working on something else that actually provides financial benefits. However, a study by LinkedIn may change the way students look at volunteering. According to the study, 20% of hiring managers admitted that past volunteer work impacts their hiring decisions. Forty-one percent of the correspondents see volunteer history as a valuable asset in career building and in acquiring human resources.
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Companies as big as Microsoft, Salesforce, Eli Lilly & Company, Timberland, Flatiron, and PwC invest in turning their employees into international volunteers. Now that companies are integrating responsible business practices with global business optimization, prospective new hires who have volunteer experiences abroad already have a foot inside their dream company's door. Here are seven ways volunteering abroad can boost a graduating student's portfolio.
Volunteering abroad gives you more flexibility to take on legitimate leadership roles
Becoming a global volunteer does not necessarily mean that you will have to work in trenches without structure. Volunteering and working overseas is the same as the usual professional setting wherein you will be handed tasks and projects with objectives that you must achieve. As a professional, you are given more room to be creative and innovative as you work with local community members, other volunteers, and government units. This enables you to practice and develop your leadership skills since it requires you to go out of your comfort zone, understand people from different cultures, and create a solution to a problem that the community is facing.
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Gaining solid leaderships is a plus for companies you may want to get into. Spending your time abroad to help other people even without getting financial incentives strengthens your judgment, competence, vision, and integrity and many other leadership qualities which large companies are looking for.
Volunteering abroad provides intensive and specific skill-set training
Volunteering abroad requires you to find problems and build solutions. Though you may already have an obvious solution, you will still have to back it up with data so that it becomes more tailor-fit for the community. This allows you to create a needs-based solution which directly answers what the local community members need. Having to create answers that will serve particular needs requires you to use a specific skill set that will best address urgent problems. Being put in this situation gears you towards learning new skills which will ultimately play a role in building your career.
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The same goes for businesses and companies. These entities provide solutions through their products and services. Your ability to create a needs-based solution system increases your chances of getting hired because companies see that your solutions and answers did not just come from thin air.
Volunteering abroad proves your ability to adapt
The only way for a person to truly grow is to put him in a very uncomfortable position. When you do charity work abroad, your skills will improve and you will inevitably learn new ones. Take language, for example. Language barriers will hinder you from completing projects, which will force you to learn the locals' dialect.
Beyond learning a new language, this develops your communication skills and will strengthen your relationships with your co-workers, employees, clients, and customers as you are able to translate your native language into something simpler, more effective, and more efficient.
Volunteering abroad makes you face different kinds of people and live in environments you are not accustomed to.
Volunteering abroad provides an extensive worldview and increases your cultural intelligence
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One of the strongest impacts of becoming a service volunteer is getting a taste of a foreign culture firsthand and experiencing it at its face value. Immersing yourself in an unfamiliar culture increases your cultural intelligence and provides a wider worldview. Doing so shows you not just what people from different countries and cultures are experiencing. It lets you feel and experience its very essence—all the good and bad parts of the community members' lives. This experience will change you and your perspective, which is highly beneficial for companies and organizations.
Volunteering abroad lets you be independent
One of the inevitable impacts of leaving the familiar and joining volunteer abroad programs is having to live independently. Independent living requires you to hit targets and goals for basic survival, and waiting for someone else to provide instructions will only hinder you from maximizing your overseas stay .
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Once you’ve developed the survival skills to live independently abroad, you won't have to worry about being transferred to any part of the globe. This is a highly attractive trait for companies looking for someone they can rely on, no matter what.
Volunteering abroad extends your global network
One of the more obvious benefits of joining foreign student services is gaining new friendships and relationships. You are more likely to meet people from other countries and other volunteers who are in the same professional field or who have the same passions and interests. This enables you to widen your global network and create strong and stable connections with people who can make or break your career. Companies also look for individuals with strong networks in related fields, which can you give you a global advantage on the hiring ladder.
Volunteering abroad forces you to be more innovative
You won't become an international volunteer if you just wait for something to happen while sitting comfortably. Most of the time, you will have to be creative to meet your objectives. Becoming a global volunteer requires you to be innovative to find solutions to immediate problems in the shortest amount of time possible. Businesses thrive on innovation, which means they are always on the lookout for young, curious and innovative individuals like you.
Why volunteer abroad?
Working abroad boosts students' portfolio and helps them with their careers by providing better employment opportunities. This has been the core value of Diversity Abroad: to provide opportunities for underrepresented students and graduates to live, work, and volunteer abroad for various causes, which may bolster their portfolio as companies integrate the importance of hiring employees with a wider perspective and who have strong leadership skills stamped by their ability to adapt to a new environment.