Due to the continuing global economic crisis, over the last few years university graduates have been discovering that finding the perfect job can be more than elusive. Indeed, for many individuals, attaining any kind of employment following the completion of their studies has proved a source of great frustration.
A general sentiment is that every time progress appears to have been made and the aim of getting work is closer to being achieved, the goalposts are then moved.
Yet an increasingly popular option has now emerged for young qualified people actively seeking work: travelling abroad. Currently there are hundreds of various Internet sites dedicated to work opportunities and internships overseas, accessible simply through using search engines such as Google.
Many organizations and companies are now at hand to help graduates get involved in schemes which can lead to them being in a professional working environment within a matter of months.
An European example is the highly thought of Leonardo Da Vinci vocational training programme. Funded by the European Union, this particular option consists of travelling to a major city from across mainland Europe, taking part in a 3 week language course, before applying previously attained skills within a workplace closely suited to each individual’s qualifications and/or job aspirations.
Places available to visit include Berlin (Germany), Sevilla (Spain), Paris (France), Florence (Italy), Prague (Czech Republic) and Lisbon (Portugal) amongst others.
Advantages of Internships Abroad
So what are the advantages of travelling abroad and taking part in programmes similar to Leonardo Da Vinci?
Firstly cost will always come into the equation – especially for university graduates. However more often than not, flights to and from the destination of choice, as well as accommodation is already provided and catered for financially either by the company originally contacted or by the host organization based in the city in which the training will occur.
Participants can also receive monthly payments, via tutors at the host organization, to help with food and general living costs. Additionally some places offer paid internships, where it is possible to earn a wage, but this is not always the case.
Secondly is maintaining the independence that many graduates grow accustomed to during their university studies, rather than returning to the family home where freedom may be more restricted.
Another important element is the social and cultural aspect. Meeting new people and making friends from different background or sampling new cultures can only help enhance and develop personal attributes.
Also there is the chance to impress current employers and establish new contacts which may prove useful in the future when looking for work. Or even getting a job where the internship was held. In relation to the Leonardo Da Vinci programme, certification is also awarded at the end of the training.
This includes a certificate from the school where the language course was completed, from both the host organization and employers, plus the Europass Mobility Form, a well recognized document designed to make individuals a more attractive opiton for companies who are seeking employees from across the whole of Europe.
But for some maybe the best reason is when the weekends arrive, they represent a short holiday period from which it is possible to go exploring and sampling everything the city has to offer. Basically an opportunity to have fun abroad.
Summer Camps and Volunteering
On the theme of having fun abroad, summer camps are another great alternative. They provide a chance to work outdoors in a more relaxed atmosphere, with the chance to travel afterwards using any money earned.
Whether it be teaching at schools, or helping with environmental causes, volunteering also has it merits and can take an individual anywhere across the globe from the Americas, to Africa and even the Pacific.
Employers are always saying they look for candidates to stand out.
So whether it be an internship, summer camp or volunteering, broadening personal horizons and going abroad could be the missing link to finding employment this summer and beyond.
If you want to do something rewarding, inspiring, and totally character building with your gap year or career break, why not try volunteering abroad. From teaching English to Buddhist monks in Nepal, to caring for the animals in a monkey sanctuary in Indonesia, volunteering abroad need not be a completely altruistic act. In addition to the obvious good you can do the people, animals or institutions to which you volunteer your time, you too can reap the benefits. You’ll have the opportunity to learn new skills, make an invaluable addition to your CV, and have a base from which to do some serious travelling of some of the world’s most intriguing regions.
To find volunteering placements abroad there are a number of ways to go about it:
Through an Agency
Increasingly common in the volunteering process is the involvement of agencies like I to I, German poker sites, Teaching Projects Abroad, or Global Crossroads. These agencies will find your placement for you, attempt to match it to your own preferences and needs, and provide you with overseas support and in some cases training. These agencies are not charities, and do indeed charge for their assistance, usually several thousands pounds. To some it comes as a surprise that a) they need to pay to volunteer at all, and b) this money doesn’t go to the people or communities in question but instead to the profits of the agency itself. Bare in mind you are not paying for your placement but for the support you receive in the process. Travelling overseas can be a bold step for many, and the peace of mind that you have people to contact if things go wrong can be worth every penny.
Directly contacting an organization
In a world in which just about anyone can get themselves a web page, website, or Facebook account, it’s not difficult to get in touch with institutions in developing countries directly to arrange your placement by yourself. This means you can cherry pick where you want to work, how long you work for, and won’t necessarily find yourself sharing a house, or hotel with half a dozen gap year students. Moreover perhaps, you’ll save yourself a chunk of money that you’d otherwise have to pay an agency for doing the work for you. This method can be problematic in that the staff of remote Asian schools may not necessarily have a decent command of English and important details about your impending visit can be lost in translation. If you arrive at your place of work in China, Botswana or Peru and find that it’s not what you expected, or that the accommodation isn’t up to scratch, or that you don’t feel safe in the village, you’ll be somewhat stuck.
Just Turn Up
If time isn’t a constraint, and you’re not nervous about travelling independently then why not just head out to your region of choice and knock on a few doors? It’s not hard to find voluntary work, after all who’s going to turn down an employee that wants to work for free? In this way you can use out a few organizations, choose your own accommodation, and find a placement that best suits you having seen it first. You may also find this an altogether more rewarding experience, working with people that haven’t already become accustomed to a steady stream of gap year volunteers as with the agency placements.