What does it take to be a volunteer?

by Kim on February 26, 2013

Volunteering abroad can be the most rewarding experience you’ll ever have, but what, exactly, does it take to be a volunteer? There are a number of personal attributes you’ll need, some of which you can read about in this article. In addition to knowing what you need, you can also discover the benefits of volunteering, all of which will help you decide whether it’s something for you.


You’ll need confidence as you’ll no doubt meet plenty of new challenges, whether you’re on a project helping on a farm in South America, teaching children in Africa, or on some other worthwhile assignment. You’ll also need to be confident in dealing with new people, so that you can build rapport and get your points across – not to mention make new friends!




When you volunteer abroad the chances are you’ll be working with people who are less fortunate than you. You need to show compassion and understanding so that they will trust you and in turn you’ll be able to do far more for them.

Compassion is a really good personality trait whether you’re volunteering with people or animals, and one that should not be underestimated.


Living away from home is always difficult, so you do need a level of independence. There will be plenty of situations you are unfamiliar with and you need to trust yourself to handle them. One thing is for sure, though; if you weren’t very independent before you went, you definitely will be by the time you finish.


You’ll need as much emotional stamina as you will physical. Personality traits including fortitude and commitment will help see you through, as you will no doubt experience times of difficulty. It’s how you overcome these times psychologically that will help build your spirit and strength of mind.


Be determined and you can accomplish most things. If you’re determined to volunteer and to help out you can do it. Stick at it, work hard and strive to be the best you can be, and it won’t go unnoticed. You’ll also have a more constructive volunteering experience and an increased sense of achievement.



The benefits

So, you now know what attributes you need to have to volunteer abroad, but what are the benefits to you? Well, for one you will have a life experience that you will never forget and  that will have a lasting effect. You’ll also get the chance to make a difference in people’s lives, which will leave you with a huge sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

You’ll also pick up plenty of new skills, both practical and personal, when you take part on a volunteering programme like the ones offered by Projects Abroad UK.

These skills will help you in your chosen career, as employers will get to see that you’ve had a rounded experience and aren’t afraid to take on new challenges. The characteristics you will develop will help you build a great CV and make you stand out from other candidates.

You’ve read about some of the attributes you’ll need, and the benefits you’ll get, on a volunteering project, so now it’s down to you to decide if it’s for you. There are plenty of options out there and whether you’re going to take a volunteering project on a gap year, career break or for some other reason, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.