6 Reasons to Fill Your Sabbatical with Volunteering Abroad

6 Reasons to Fill Your Sabbatical with Volunteering Abroad

Not so long ago, taking a sabbatical was as good as career suicide.

But, thankfully, things are a bit different for today’s adventurous mid-career professionals. Employers are starting to recognise the benefits of a career break.

Approaching your employer about a career break may seem daunting in itself, and what if they say yes? It can be hard to choose between alluring options like an extended vacation, extra time with the family, or just getting some much-needed rest.

But you won’t beef up your CV sitting on the couch or the beach. Combine the travel you’ve always wanted to do with the skills you need to advance in your career by volunteering abroad.

Volunteering during your career sabbatical can be the most rejuvenating, enriching, and even professionally beneficial decision of your life.

Here are six reasons you need to spend your sabbatical putting your skills to good work abroad.


1. Doing Something Different Could Be Just What You Need

6 Reasons to Fill Your Sabbatical with a Volunteering Abroad Adventure
The daily cycle of wake up, commute, work, commute, sleep, repeat becomes maddening.

It can seem like day-to-day life is reduced to nothing more than the office and the minimal necessary time for washing clothes and bathing in between.

Sabbaticals are a great way to prevent burnout and revitalise your career. You’ll come back refreshed, inspired, and ready to take on new challenges creatively.

Don’t underestimate the value of a change of setting.

Spending a few months in an unfamiliar country and culture gives your brain the little jolt it needs. Your creative thinking and problem-solving skills will come back to life after having lived on autopilot.


2. Volunteering Is for All Ages

6 Reasons to Fill Your Sabbatical with a Volunteering Abroad Adventure
The word ‘volunteering’ typically makes us think of twenty-somethings in sleeveless shirts rebuilding after a natural disaster during their gap years. However skilled professionals and older people are often the most helpful and impactful volunteers.

Volunteering knows no age, but it does know expertise.

Young students may be able to make an impact by lending an extra pair of hands for a month. But adults with a few years of job experience will have the skills that are most in demand on volunteer sites.

Your transferable skills are the real asset when you arrive at your volunteer site, and they aren’t affected by your age.


3. Personalised Placements Make for Unforgettable Experiences

6 Reasons to Fill Your Sabbatical with a Volunteering Abroad Adventure
A one-size-fits-all volunteer programme can feel limited and artificial. But, a personalised volunteer placement helps you to make the most of your sabbatical.

Some volunteer organisations, like Inspire, offer volunteer placements personalised according to your specific skills and experience.

Thanks to the Internet, it’s now easier than ever to research, learn, connect, and ask questions. This will help you in deciding if a volunteer trip is right for you.

Whether it’s three months or two years. You’ll want to finish your sabbatical certain that you’ve put it to good work.

A personalised volunteer placement will help you not only find a role that’s appropriate for your skills. It will also allow you to grow, learn a new skill or hone an existing one. Likewise, it will enable you to see and spend time in a part of the world you’re curious about.


4. A Volunteering Abroad Adventure Can Also Benefit Your Career

6 Reasons to Fill Your Sabbatical with a Volunteering Abroad Adventure
A career break to volunteer abroad is as much a boost to your career as it is a break from it.

A career break can be a smart career move. You’ll grow your international work experience and cultural competency. By working with people whose work habits and expectations are different from yours, you’ll become more adaptable and flexible.

But the benefits aren’t just in the soft skills. Spend long enough abroad and you’ll have the chance to learn a new language. Being multilingual is becoming an increasingly valuable skill in today’s global economy.

Furthermore, in many volunteer roles, you’ll have a chance to work with colleagues and experts from different parts of the world. This will enable you to learn from their different approaches to the same challenges.

The best part is that many companies already value these kinds of experiences. Through Approaching your employer you may discover they’ll happily take you back after your volunteering is complete.


5. Volunteering Abroad Can Help You Change Your Career

6 Reasons to Fill Your Sabbatical with a Volunteering Abroad Adventure
Gone are the days of sticking with a single employer from your youth until retirement.

Here to stay is the era of multiple careers. A volunteering trip abroad can be exactly what you need to slide smoothly into your next career.

Whether it’s education, health, human rights, community development, or something else. Taking a sabbatical to volunteer offers an ideal opportunity to apply your current skills in one field to working and learning about another.

For instance, working on a community health project might give you the project management experience you’re missing. A new key contact might come out of your assistance with a women’s empowerment group.

Whatever it is, it would be hard to imagine that your experiences won’t be in some way useful and positive.

The skills you build overcoming challenges of volunteering abroad will leave you better prepared for your next career move.

Regardless of where you go after your volunteer placement.


6. Don’t Wait to Start on Your Bucket List – Live Your Life!

It’s never the perfect time to travel, volunteer abroad, or any of the things you’re planning on doing “some day”.

If it’s something you really want to do, get serious and take the leap.


Ready to Take the Sabbatical of a Lifetime?

Have a look at our programmes and destinations to get started. Or, tell us a bit about yourself via our contact page and we’ll start working on your personalised volunteer placement.

Need more advice? Get in touch with me anytime by calling us at +44 1635 285666, go to our enquiries page, or leave a comment below.

Prakriti Malhotra is the founding director of Inspire. She has over 12 years’ experience helping individuals plan their overseas volunteering trips whether it be for their gap year, a sabbatical from work or a post retirement adventure.
  • stacey/ 10.01.2017Reply

    This sounds like a fantastic idea. Wish I had tried this when I was younger as have a family now. Work commitments in teaching and am at burnout stage as recently moved to a larger property and am the main bread winner in the family. Feeling trapped at home and in my career. A total change is needed. Though don’t you need a lot of income or savings to be able to make such a move? Feel that a lottery win may be needed to be able to fund such a fantastic idea.

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