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Turn Your Volunteer Abroad Experience Into a Paying Career

Posted by: Lindy K.
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For many people that volunteer abroad, the opportunity to stay in their host country and turn their volunteering experience into a career is both common as well as feasible. Did you have so much fun volunteering abroad that you want to come back to your host country and find a permanent job? If so, you should be educated on both the positives and negatives of living in a foreign country. 

Firstly, do you want to find work in the country you volunteered in, or do you want to relocate countries and find a related job? Secondly, ask yourself what types of jobs your home country has to offer in comparison with your country of choice. Take into consideration the experience you will receive from living in each, and how each experience attributes to your future goals. Lastly, know that “real world” problems exist no matter where in the world you are. You need to be able to get a proper visa (if applicable), pay taxes and communicate in the native language of the country. Before taking the plunge into finding a job abroad, thoroughly consider the realities of life where you may be and what exactly it is you want out of the living abroad experience. 
 

1. Job Hunting Abroad

The first step in finding a job anywhere is job hunting. Typically, one does not have as many connections in their country of choice as they do at home. This means that you must give everything you have in order to network and search for the position you desire. Scour the internet, Facebook pages, craigslist, and even the newspaper. Not every country will use the same methods of advertisement so it is important that you explore in every way possible. Additionally, leverage what you have. Use the people that you met during your volunteer travel experience as ways to connect to others in the community. If you want to find a job abroad, be relentless in your job search and something is bound to surface. We suggest you look into jobs popular amongst expats and volunteer alums such as the positions listed below. 
 

2. Program Coordinator or Site Leader

If you loved your volunteering abroad experience and absolutely do not want to leave, you may not have to. Due to the large turnover rate of non-profit organizations, there are typically openings available. If you happen to apply or ask for a job at the right moment, there may be positions open at the organization you volunteered. 

Program coordinator or site leader is a popular choice among those who have already become acquainted with an organization through study abroad. If you have already formed strong relationships with employees, you have a better chance at landing a permanent position. It’s also a huge advantage that you are already familiar with the customs, people, demographic and language of the country you may be working in. 


3. Teacher

If you want to be a teacher, or simply want to live abroad and are unsure of what exactly it is you want to do, then teaching abroad is for you. English teachers, specifically, are always in demand in every country. And, the more languages you know, the better. To teach any other subject but English, you must be fluent in the native language of the country. The teaching workplace includes various settings such as universities, children’s schools, high schools, afterschool programs, one-on-one tutoring organizations, and the like. And if you like teaching but can’t stand the chaos of a class filled with kiddos, then consider teaching adults (think business English)! Many programs do not require that you have a teaching degree, rather that you have your TEFL certificate (usually). If you are a native speaker of English, this is easily attained either by attending workshops in person or online. 

If you are planning on only being abroad for a year or so, then teaching abroad is an excellent way to begin building a teaching resume. If you are unsure of what career you want to pursue, you may want to give teaching a shot. It is hard not to like the experience of giving others knowledge that they otherwise may not receive


 

4. Tour Guide or Tourism

For those of you who want to explore a realm not typically offered in volunteer life, being a tour guide or working in the tourism sector is a good option. In these types of positions it is important to have cultural sensitivity and be acquainted with the country that you will work in - all things you will pick up by volunteering abroad in the same location. If you are dual-lingual you are and extremely strong asset to this industry: it is important to collect insight from locals as well as give information to tourists, all which usually requires knowledge of English and the country's native tongue/s. Jobs of this category include tour guides, positions at activity/trek/tour centers, local travel agencies, and the like. Tourism seeks candidates who want to give back to society and care about the history and culture of the land in which they reside. Being a previous volunteer, it seems that you most likely qualify!


 

5. Whatever You Can Get Your Hands On

Another option for jobs abroad is anything that comes your way. This is the foreign-country-hustle, and it is very common. To do this you should have some kind of trade, whether it be writing, tutoring, social media management, waiter/waitressing, teaching independently (English, yoga, art, etc.), photography, and the list goes on. To do this, and succeed, you will probably need to juggle a few jobs at once, and be good at it.

We wish you luck in all of your endeavors and remember to do what both your heart and reason tell you. Overall, volunteer experience is valuable to any job you want to take, whether it be in your home country or abroad. So, get to work and get your resume in tip top shape.