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Volunteer Abroad – International Volunteer Programs

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by Danielle (subscribe)
I am a primary school teacher that is very passionate about the arts and creativity. I enjoy writing about different events to show how people can make the most out of their life.
Published November 4th 2012
Ever thought about going to work abroad?

Well here we are going to discuss all the pros and cons of working abroad and what you need to consider if you did go and work abroad.

Firstly - why do it?
My parents always said to me that it was dangerous and juvenile to go and work abroad without any experience. But my response would be if you do not try and work abroad, how will you ever experience things and become less 'juvenile'? I have found that working abroad doesn't only give you life experience, but can also give you: an insight into different cultures, enhances employability, gain experience in working in numerous roles, lets you take time out from your life in Britain and helps to develop you altruistic side.

There are different types of work that you can look at doing when working abroad, and these include:

Voluntary work
There are many organisations offering short-term volunteer opportunities aimed at students and graduates. These projects are often based in the developing world, working with local communities tackling issues around health, social care, education and conservation.

Examples of organisations offering short-term opportunities are:
BUNAC
International Voluntary Service (IVS) in Britain
International Service
Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)




Casual work
Working holidays are a popular way for students and graduates to earn money while travelling and seeing the world. Much of the work available is in the hospitality and tourism sectors, e.g. in hotels and bars or as a holiday rep. Other typical jobs can be as varied as fruit picking to au pairing. The developed economies of Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and North America offer the best opportunities.

Internships, placements and exchange programmes
A variety of short-term opportunities ranging between a few weeks and 18 months are available in a number of European and international organisations. These give you a chance to gain relevant experience.

Many students have the opportunity to spend time abroad as part of their course. This could either be studying at a partner university or doing a placement year in a sector relating to your course.

Opportunities in Europe are available through the Erasmus European Exchange Programme.

AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales) the world's largest international student organisation, offers international internships from 2-18 months.

Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) can help students and new graduates find internships in the USA.

IAESTE (The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience) is administered in the UK by the British Council and provides science, engineering and architecture undergraduates with paid work experience abroad relevant to their studies.

The Leonardo da Vinci Programme offers funded work placements in Europe, which are available through the European Union's vocational training programme. All applications must be made by an organisation, so you cannot apply as an individual. However, some universities are members of this scheme, so ask at your careers service to see if this might be an option.

Teaching
Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) is a very popular way for new graduates without specialist experience and skills to obtain work overseas. Teachers are employed in commercial language schools, state schools, education and development organisations and large companies. There are also more structured teaching programmes specific to individual countries, such as Teach in China and the Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme.

Creative industry
The creative arts industry offers good opportunities for work abroad, from touring musicians to artists promoting and selling their work. The UK has a leading reputation in the creative industries abroad, and there are various government initiatives supporting exports from the sector. Arts Council England discusses international opportunities on their website. The European Commission Culture Programme aims to promote cross-border mobility of those working in the sector. It is dedicated to bringing greater cultural cooperation between European countries and provides funding for various projects that help meet this objective.

But before you make you decision, you must answer these questions:

Why you want to work abroad and what you hope to achieve from the experience? (e.g. if you want to improve your language skills, working as an au pair and living with a local family might help you achieve your goal better than teaching English and sharing a flat with other expats);

Where you want to go and what you want to do?

How long you think you would like to spend abroad?

How you will benefit both personally and in terms of your career?

You must consider:
The different time scales
Culture shock
Language and cultural issues

So why not broaden your horizons and try and find work over seas. Whatever the length of your stay, immersing yourself in another culture can be an incredible and challenging experience. If you dream of living abroad, prepare yourself with practical advice on visas, work permits, health, insurance, tax and accommodation.
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