8 reasons you should consider professional volunteering or social work

by Bert Maxwell /
Bert Maxwell's picture
Sep 21, 2012 / 0 comments

If you’re looking for new challenges and experiences in your career, and in your life, why not consider professional volunteering or social work in a developing country?


Flickr creative commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usarmyafrica/4553099709/



Around the world there are vast numbers of disadvantaged regions, communities and families facing untold hardships and extreme poverty – situations that could be greatly improved with the help of professional volunteers, willing to give their time and share their skills.


From social work and medical care to teaching, business development, engineering and even culture and media, there are countless opportunities to make a difference. Not only can you dramatically improve the lives of others, but you can enjoy many of your own personal and professional rewards.


Here are eight reasons you should consider professional volunteering or social work:


1. Make a real difference

What could be more rewarding, and professionally satisfying, than helping those in need, face-to-face, sharing stories and seeing the positive changes reflected within people and their communities?  From physiotherapy in Nepal to social work in Ghana and special needs teaching in Thailand, your specialist skills and experience could make a real difference.


2. Enhance your professional skills

Corporate volunteering projects, such as those offered by www.projects-abroad-pro.org, require individuals to use the skills and experience they have developed at work. Using these skills in a new and unfamiliar environment, where resources may be limited, encourages the use of initiative and improvisation and will help to sharpen problem-solving skills.

There’s also likely to be the opportunity to learn new skills, through working with other trained professionals in areas you might not have branched into back home.


3. Better communication and team work

Professional volunteering frequently requires you to use your initiative and skills, within a team, in stressful and challenging circumstances. It encourages individuals to work together, often fulfilling different roles to those of their everyday work. This helps build both team and communication skills.


4. PR value

If you’re able to secure corporate sponsorship for your voluntary placement, your company can build its image among local suppliers within the developing country you’re working in. It can also build its image with its wider global public by engaging in corporate volunteer projects that help to give back to communities overseas.

Corporate-sponsored volunteer activities help to raise the visibility of the company and generate media coverage that helps increase positive perceptions ─ good for encouraging more companies to see the value in investing in these worthwhile projects, and good for you as a sponsored volunteer.


5. Improved job satisfaction

Recent studies have shown that employees who’ve volunteered tend to think more highly of their company than those who haven’t. They also have a higher degree of job satisfaction, and there’s a significantly higher retention rate of staff who’ve engaged in a corporate volunteer programme.


6. Renewed corporate vigour

The changes and challenges you’ll face will ensure you return to work with a renewed vigour and a greater understanding of how problems can be overcome. It can also see you return with new skills that can be applied to your everyday work. There’s always something new each and every developing country will teach you.


7. Richer relationships

Personal and professional relationships can be improved through the experience of professional volunteering and social work, as it brings a richer understanding of, and respect for, others. You’ll learn to empathise in a way you might not have before, and you’ll come to see and tolerate difference in new and enlightened ways. You’ll also make lifelong friends along the way.


flickr creative commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cosasia/6774909475/



8. A chance to explore the world

You’ll undoubtedly experience a lot of hard work, as well as long hours. However, in your down time, or maybe at the beginning or end of your placement, you can explore and travel within your host country.

From beautiful natural scenery to fascinating cultures and unique attractions, the countries offering professional volunteer opportunities are some of the most captivating in the world.



This article was written for Projects Abroad PRO, an organisation that helps graduates, those on a career break, and retired professionals to find more information about social work and professional volunteering in countries around the globe.


All photos courtesy and copyright flickr creative commons, as attributed.