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Personal and professional development

As well as bringing about change in the lives of people in local communities, ICS furthers volunteers’ learning and personal development.

Through comprehensive training, participating in a challenging placement and supporting social action at home, ICS volunteers gained key transferrable skills such as cross-cultural working, teamwork and leadership. Volunteers also gained crucial experience in resilience, adaptability and confidence which prepares them for the world of work, as well as developing a deeper understanding of poverty and global development.

"Before ICS I didn’t know where I was going. I thought I’d end up working the same dead-end jobs. I didn’t like where I was. Now I’m back, and as for my future goals – the sky is the limit. I’m not afraid any more. By the time I’m 30 I want my own NGO. You can hold me to that."
Matthew Collier
Volunteered in Zambia and through his placement is now qualified with the Chartered Management Institute
Matthew volunteered in Zambia

In a recent survey of our volunteers:

  • 74% say that the experience has been very useful for their career development
  • 89% say they have an increased knowledge of international development
  • 77% of ICS participants identified personal development as one of their top three achievements from placement 
  • 80% of volunteers were in further education, employment or training one year after the placement

Beyond volunteering

In 2017, VSO published research entitled Impact beyond volunteering (pdf). The study, which drew upon a network of 15,000 VSO volunteers, including ICS volunteers, found that ICS had enhanced their personal development.

Below are just a few examples that demonstrate the positive impact of ICS on our volunteers:

ICS made me one of Africa’s 100 Most Influential Young People

Six years after his ICS placement, Kennedy Mmari was recognised as one of Africa’s 100 most influential young people. The reason? The success of his digital marketing company, Serengeti Bytes, has empowered young Tanzanian enterprises to take advantage of tech – and all while creating jobs for fellow young people. And Kennedy has never been shy about admitting that those key skills required to get into business – grit, resilience, self-confidence – were traits he found while on ICS.

“Before I volunteered, I could hardly speak in public, let alone lead meetings or a pitch. These are real-world, private sector skills that I just didn’t have or knew I needed. My ICS experience was tough and showed me another side to life in my country, but also prepared me to go into business.”

A new outlook. A new career - Rosie's story

25 year old Rosie left a job in London to take part in ICS. After supporting small businesses in Ghana and Rwanda, she’s back in her home city – but with a new career and outlook.

"Almost 12 months after leaving I’m not going back to London in same capacity. I’m pleased to say I’ve got a job in the Department for International Trade, drawing on the experience I’ve made over the last year. Thanks to ICS, I have a commitment to professional learning for the next stage of my career."


Inspiring others - Danial's story

A few years ago, life looked pretty bleak for Londoner Danial William. He’d narrowly avoided prison for his role in the 2011 riots and had then been injured in a knife attack.

Change came in the shape of three months in central Nepal with International Citizen Service. Now 21, he is employed by Waltham Forest Council, working with schools and young offenders on issues such as street safety.

He credits his once-in-a-lifetime volunteering placement in Nepal with as proof that such a past doesn’t have to define your future.


Seeing your disability in a different way

For Paul Asiawon, 24, ICS taught him to see disability in a different way. After spending his  ICS placement supporting other people with disabilities to fully engage with the community, he’s cleaned up misconceptions about disabilities – through his own soap making social enterprise. 

As a young person with a disability, Paul wanted to do something that would help make life easier for people like him. As a result of ICS, Paul has also taken on the role of secretary at his local Disabled People’s Organisation as well as now applying to study development at university. He now sees the bigger picture.

“I’m always thinking of the next ideas, always looking for new routes to take or projects to start. Every activity makes me more confident. I felt accomplished. It empowered me. And that’s why I haven’t stopped.”

A job I am passionate about - Eleanor's story

For 23-year-old Eleanor Calver, her ICS placement gave her the opportunity to gain more experience of working in sexual health – a sector she feels passionately about.

Based in Gweru, a city in central Zimbabwe, Eleanor’s team were leading sexual and reproductive health awareness projects to challenge stigmas and break down taboos. After returning from Zimbabwe, she couldn’t picture herself ‘getting any old job.’

She’s now working for The Eve Appeal, the only UK charity to raise awareness & fund research into the five gynaecological cancers.

ICS impact

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volunteers in classroom
© ICS / International Service / Katie Barraclough

About ICS

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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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