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Gap year volunteering

You’ve heard the dilemma: if you want to get a good job, you need experience; but to get experience you need a job; but to get a job you need experience; but to get experience… you get the point. You know what we say to this here at STA Travel? Volunteer on your gap year!
Gap Year volunteer, BorneoWe all know that a decision to volunteer stems from selfless reasons — whether you want to help communities, work with endangered animals, or commit your time to protecting the planet's more fragile environments, it’s guaranteed that your commitment to lend a hand will make a positive difference.

Have you ever considered the variety of skills up for grabs from volunteering, which will make a positive difference on your future? And the best thing is, these life skills are easy to come by if you put yourself in new environments.

What skills will I learn as a volunteer?

One of the first questions an interviewer will ask you is: “Can you tell me about a time you worked in a team?”

Perfect! This is a great opportunity to wax lyrical about your amazing team working capabilities — you know, the ones you learnt while working on that Elephant Conservation project in Thailand. Those were some hungry elephants — thank goodness you had your fellow volunteers to help pick all the corn, and make all those banana balls on time (mashed up bananas, corn and rice… nice!)

Communication skills — how you speak, listen and interact with others — will help you stand out to prospective employees, and volunteering can bring this out of the most timid of travellers.

Gap Year Volunteering, teach englishFrom the minute you start any project, such as Teaching English in Buenos Aires, you’re very closely involved with a group of people — many of whom don't speak English as a first language — who are expecting you to get stuck in, and get involved. You need to communicate, you want to communicate and you will communicate with the group so that everyone, including yourself, can get the most out of your time.

Without even trying, you’re developing the communication and interpersonal skills that would make any prospective employer want to jump up and give you a great big hug (now that’s what we call interpersonal!)

Leadership is another biggie: “Tell me about a time you showed strong leadership skills?" asks the interviewer. "Well, while on my gap year…" pause, for effect, "I volunteered as a teacher in Zanzibar where I successfully organised, and coordinated, their annual Sports Day for the children.”

All of our volunteering projects involve elements of project planning, time management and team motivation; pretty credible leadership qualities if you ask us.

gap year volunteering, turtle conservationVolunteering also gives you a massive sense of responsibility, which can really help build your confidence when handling stressful situations. If you can handle night patrol on a Sea Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica (protecting female sea turtles, nests, and hatchlings against poachers and predators — eek!), then you can handle pretty much anything!

These are just a teeny tiny selection of hidden benefits that volunteering can offer you. We can guarantee that your CV will glow if you include volunteering experience, and it will help you to stand out, loud and proud in the job hungry crowd.

Don’t just take our word for it — a recent survey of 200 leading UK businesses (carried out by TimeBank and Reed Executive) revealed that 73% of employers would employ candidates with volunteering experience over one who doesn’t. Now go get your volunteer on!

Why volunteer with STA Travel?

If you choose to volunteer on your Gap Year with STA Travel, you’ll get to pick from nearly 80 projects — ranging from community work, conservation work, working with children or working with animals — that have been chosen with the ultimate aim of helping local people and their environment achieve a sustainable way of life.

Our projects, some of which are completely exclusive to STA Travel, offer genuine opportunities to make a real difference, and are administered on our behalf by the registered non-profit organisation Planeterra.

Find out more about volunteering with STA Travel by calling us or popping in your local branch.

Download our volunteering brochure >