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Five skills you can learn from volunteering overseas

ICS pushed me well out of my comfort zone and equipped me with experience of overcoming challenges in an unfamiliar environment. As a result, I have an increased confidence to accept more difficult tasks at work and take the lead in decision making
Rosanna Barry
volunteered in Zimbabwe
volunteer rosanna

Whether you’re applying for jobs or considering alternatives to employment, volunteering overseas can give you the skills and experience to make you stand out from the crowd.

International Citizen Service is the UK’s only government-funded overseas volunteering programme. Here are five reasons why volunteering with us could benefit your career.

two volunteers outside with their host mother
© ICS / Andrew Aitchsion
Frida, from Tanzania, and Cathryn, from Cornwall, talking with their host mother Agnes in Mbulu, Tanzania

Cross-cultural learning

The more you know about the local culture, the more of an impact your team can make. You’ll be living with a host family in a local community, working with a team of volunteers from the UK and the country you’re in. You’ll leave with knowledge, understanding and a new perspective that will stay with you long after you return.

volunteers with a local business owner in Kenya
© ICS / Stephen Nderitu
Sarah Wanjiku, an entrepreneur in Njoro Town, Kenya, talking to ICS volunteers about her business in the local market

Creative problem solving

You’ll be faced with the kind of challenges where Googling won’t be an option. This is where the ICS training before your placement will come in handy. Even with the most careful preparation, your projects might not go to plan, so you’ll return to the UK with real examples to demonstrate your ability to respond creatively with limited resources and react quickly to unexpected situations.

volunteers collecting water
© ICS / Andrew Aitchsion
Volunteers Francisca, from Tanzania, and Josie, from Devon, gather water for cooking in their host home in Lindi, Tanzania

Adapting to a new environment

You’ll be in an unfamiliar country, in surroundings more basic than you’re used to. You’ll make new relationships and probably eat food you’ve never eaten before. All while working on projects that make a difference to people’s lives. After doing ICS, walking into a new job will be a piece of cake.

volunteer talking with community member
© ICS / Andrew Aitchsion
Anass, the head of the parent teachers association at Yumba Special School in Tamale, Ghana, talking with ICS volunteer Frankie, from Birmingham

Communicating with people at all levels

Fellow volunteers, your host family, programme staff, local children, business owners, maybe even a village chief. When English isn’t always an option you’ll be amazed what you can do with a few gestures and a smile.

group of volunteers at a community action day in South Africa
© ICS / Justin Barlow
A group of UK and South African ICS volunteers at a community action day they organised in Rode, South Africa

Working in a diverse team

Our teams of volunteers are made up of young people from all backgrounds from across the UK, with an equal number of local volunteers. Every team dynamic is different, but they have one thing in common – working together to make a difference.

In a recent survey following their ICS placements, 100% of our UK volunteers said that ICS was useful for personal development, and 99% said it was useful for professional development.

To find out if ICS is right for you, see why you should volunteer today.

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Funded by the UK Government.

ICS is funded by the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), which projects the UK as a force for good in the world, including reducing poverty and tackling global challenges.

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