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5 reasons why now is the best time to volunteer

With A-Level results day safely out of the way, and the stresses of last week’s frantic Clearing calls long-forgotten, there’s no better time to think about how volunteering could boost your career options – whatever stage you’re at in life.

It doesn’t matter if you’re about to start uni in September, whether you’ve been working a steady job since finishing school or still not sure what to do next. Going away to volunteer can help you achieve your personal goals and give you that stand-out CV you need to get ahead.

1. Only a third of undergrads are getting value for money

a group of volunteers walking outside
© ICS / Andrew Aitchison
Volunteering can fit neatly in the three month uni summer break

Tuition fees are about to face another hike, with an eye-watering price tag soon to hit those about to start their uni experience. But can the huge debt be worth it? According to research, maybe not: just a third of students think their studies are relevant to the workplace.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Students are turning to volunteering programmes like ICS, which offers three-month funded placements that fit neatly in your uni summer break – handy, right? Skills-based volunteering overseas is so good for your career, it’s even been called ‘the next executive training ground’ by leading researchers

2. Fewer of us are backpacking than ever before

volunteers at a rally for human rights
Progressio ICS volunteers on a rally in Malawi

‘Sun, sea and sand holidays’ have fallen down the young traveller’s agenda. According to a study of 34,000 people across the world, who are realising there’s more to travel than beach parties and a week with the lads in Zante.

Volunteering offers another option. From running dance workshops raising HIV awareness in Nepal to leading youth rallies on social change in Malawi, it’s possible to do something that really makes an impact – while having a great time. What’s more, you’ll come out of the other end with an array of new skills.

3. Who knows where volunteering may take you

volunteer talking to TV station
ICS returned volunteer Takyiwa at the Girls' Education Forum

For volunteer Takyiwa Danso, ICS gave her the confidence and opportunities to go on and do amazing things for groups she feels passionately about. After coming back from her placement in Kenya, she’s been (and going) all over the place – from Downing Street to the UN in New York, and over the last year has been Youth Adviser to the VSO International Board. 

4. Getting the best in global development

two male volunteers with their arms around each other
© ICS / Andrew Aitchison
Volunteer counterparts Izak and Nasir. UK volunteers work with local volunteers

There’s no shortage of overseas volunteering opportunities out there that’ll take all your hard-earned cash. ICS is different – it’s funded by the UK Government and open to all young people. You don’t need money, skills or qualifications, just a passion for making a difference.

If you’re thinking about a career in development, it’s the best place to make your first steps. You’ll work alongside local counterparts, stay in host homes and make a real and measurable contribution to the communities you live in. And afterwards you carry on that change right here in the UK.

5. Learn about another community

two volunteers and their host mum preparing dinner
© ICS / Andrew Aitchison
Romana, Rebecca and their host mum preparing the evening meal. Volunteers stay with local families

Volunteering abroad is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture and learn about people's livelihoods outside the UK. ICS is a two-way exchange: our volunteers are placed on programmes where they have as much to give as they have to learn.

And whether it’s Swahili or Spanish, Hindi or Hausa, our volunteers get an amazing chance to learn or practice the language in the 8 countries we work across. If you’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to use your language skills for good, volunteering abroad might be the excuse you’ve been looking for.

Challenge yourself to change your world.