Current thinking from most employers is that you are more employable if you have done some voluntary work overseas or within your local community. It demonstrates a higher degree of teamwork and management skills.
Research by the Chartered Management Institute and Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) has found that if you undertake voluntary work in your local community or overseas, it can provide an effective way to develop a range of skills needed by engineering companies. For example, while volunteering overseas on a marine ecology conservation initiative you can pick up lots of skills that are transferable to the workplace.
The research shows that voluntary work overseas have a significant impact on skills development for managers and the companies they then work for. 80% of those who participated in voluntary work overseas felt that they learned skills they were unlikely to pick up in the UK. The majority gained a better understanding of other cultures, which leads to a greater tolerance of others.
It was found that most organisations were very positive about employing someone returning from voluntary work overseas. Employers stressed that it was important that candidates be able to demonstrate evidence of formal recognition of the skills they had gained. Employers suggested that having a reference from an overseas employer helps to make more of an impact for those looking to gain employment when they return from their volunteer work. It is also useful to keep a detailed work log or record of professional development while working overseas to capture the skills and experience gained.
Find Out More About Volunteering Overseas
For more information on tips to make the most of planning and enjoying a gap year, read my Gap Year Guide. It has lots of advice on volunteer work and volunteer jobs overseas.