Seven soft skills you learn while volunteering abroad

April 29, 2020 by Jorge Machado0

Did you just finished university and want to start building your career? Do you want a new challenge and decide to take a sabbatical year? Do you want to leave a mark on society and help a community? Do you want to travel long term?

Maybe, volunteering abroad or in an international NGO is an option for you as it was for me early in my first year of college and help me move abroad 6 times; currently living in Algarve, Portugal.

Wherever is your actual situation at some point along the way the following question will appear in your head: How volunteering abroad and traveling will gone help me in my future career?

Well… the key to making yourself outstanding in the eyes of a recruiter or future employer are the soft skills. For the ones who don’t know yet, these specific skills are acquired during the non-formal education, which is a life learning process compared with formal education. Non-formal education can be assimilated at the same time with formal and informal education but can be encountered in different environments such as NGOs, training courses, webinars, online study platforms, etc. In particular, is based on developing and growing your soft skills box by alternative forms of education.

Let’s see how traveling and volunteering can help you. Here are 7 soft skills you can use to make your CV shine and highlight your superpowers:


1. Adaptability

Moving from a country to another can sound exciting at first and your imagination is playing a big role here in making you dream about the beautiful places you will visit, the house with a great view you will leave and the people you will meet. There is nothing wrong with that, but at some point, reality comes in, and meeting a lot of new people in a short term can be challenging, leaving in the same house can require compromise and travelling with people can be difficult if you don’t learn to communicate your needs. So, all these challenges will definitely make you evolve into a better person.


2. Communication

As simple as its sound communication is a huge advantage and while working abroad you will be part of a multicultural team and is where solidarity and patience come into play. You will learn to actively listen to the people around you, to find their stories and discover a new culture. Moreover, your level of English will improve and with some determination maybe you will end up learning the local language too… Why not becoming bilingual?


3. Team player

You will be volunteering but, this doesn’t mean you don’t have any responsibilities instead you will be working in projects you care about, and in order to succeed you need the help of your team.

That is why helping your colleagues and friends will become a habit and you are all working together to bring some good in the community.


4. Organizational skills

Ones you arrived in your new home the feeling of going into a new adventure every weekend will increase but your body has limited resources. You will start learning to plan your trips and adapt them to your working schedule but most important to prioritize and have a backup plan when things can go wrong in the first place.


5. Problem-solving

As I said before things can go wrong in many ways when you are far from home … buses can be lost, accommodations canceled last minute, getting lost, events with more people than expected, catering ordering being late, the photographer got sick, the internet doesn’t work in the middle of live streaming you name it.

But you need to find solutions and act fast since the problems will not go away by staring at them which will help you develop a valuable skill for every company.


6. Negotiation

Do you remember the time when you first calculate your expenses during your stay abroad?

Well, this is a start in gaining risk-taking skills and discovering the art of negotiation in order to keep your budget in balance.

Another important part is how to create a win-win situation during your volunteer period abroad by discussing with your host association and discover together the best project for you as well as taking new tasks and challenges.


7. Self Confidence

At the end of the day living abroad will be a challenge for you and a resource of growth for both your personal and professional self. Having to change your lifestyle while moving abroad, develop new habits, constantly being on the move will shape who you will become.

On a personal level, you will be creating new relationships, you will develop empathy with new people and cultures and embrace easily new environments.

On the other side having confidence in yourself will increase the sense of responsibility which is a workplace that can make a difference. What will make you interesting in front of a company is your ability to take initiative, be proactive and also improve the way you and your coworkers are doing your job is helpful at the growth of your career inside the team.


When creating a CV the way you present your superpowers can make the difference and a useful FREE website to help you structure all these qualities you have is

Jorge Machado

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.