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Why it′s important for international students to do volunteering

As an international student, there are a number of things to consider when working towards finding your career. It can be hard at times to juggle responsibilities and take time out to expand your skill set. Work experience is the buzzword coming up in most conversations with both international and home students looking for work in the UK and overseas. But where can you gain experience while keeping up with your studies?

There are schemes dedicated to providing such experience for international students, however, there is a whole sector which can often be overlooked. The benefits of volunteering are vast and can be the perfect match for international students due to the flexibility available. What many students may overlook is the value employers see. National volunteering charity TimeBank explains that they did a survey of some of the UK’s leading businesses and 73% said they'd employ someone who's volunteered over someone who hasn't.” So what’s stopping you from finding the perfect volunteer role?

What can you do?

The range of volunteering activities can be as wide as choosing a degree subject, however, there are two sure-fire routes to success. Keep it simple, either choose something directly related to your degree such as volunteering in the marketing department of a charity, or choose something you are passionate about in your personal life. That passion for working with children or helping build a community project can show your determination, tenacity and creativity better than you can in an application form. Further, activities such as fundraising for a charity, for example, can give you that all-important commercial awareness that employers struggle to find in recent graduates. The list of volunteering opportunities is endless but what it will show is that you are willing to go above and beyond what is expected of you.

Decide which route you are going to take and check in with the volunteering or careers team at your university who will be able to give you an overview of the opportunities. They can tell you about one-off volunteering opportunities for those wishing for a trial or who are short of time or the top picks by sector. Some universities even recognise the work of student volunteers with awards (which can also be added to your resume).

What are the benefits?

Whether you’re a first year student or a graduate looking for their first role, volunteering could help you to build up hands-on experience in your chosen industry. That’s quite the selling point in itself! In today’s competitive market it can give you the edge over other applicants and provide you with tangible evidence of your skills. These examples can be used in your applications and in interviews when delivering your answers. As a student, not having work experience is very common but there is something that you can do about it. Volunteering opens up your opportunities and can provide you with an extra reference.

Volunteering can also help your overall wellbeing. For international students in particular, it can be a great way to make friends in a new country, give a sense of belonging and increase socialising with a new group of friends. Advice site The Balance said “we notice a subtle shift in ourselves when we volunteer. We feel more connected to others, and we become less absorbed in the normal stresses of daily life. We share our experiences with others and want to help more”.  So not only good for your career, but overall happiness too.

If you need further careers advice, job sites like GradLink are a great way to find roles across the globe with specific industry advice all in one place. Why not sign up with us for free today?




By Jen Garmston Published: January 26, 2018


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