How to improve your employability and leadership skills by volunteering abroad

    Article by Zaytoen Domingo

    Zaytoen Domingo

    Posted: February 4, 2019

    You don’t need to be the star quarterback or run for student council to lead others. One of the best ways to gain leadership experience and boost your employability is to volunteer abroad.

    You’ll have the opportunity to make a difference while gaining valuable teamwork, leadership, and cross-cultural skills. Plus, your volunteer work will make your high school resume and application for college, internships, and jobs stand out.

    Here’s how volunteering abroad can improve your employability and leadership skills:

    Why is it important to learn leadership skills?


    Leadership skills are sought after by schools and employers. Leaders show excellent interpersonal skills and can motivate teams.

    While you can learn to become a good leader in the workplace, you’ll give your career an edge when you work on your leadership skills before you step into the professional world.

    Learning leadership skills helps you develop a sense of responsibly, confidence, and sharpens your problem-solving abilities. Tasks won’t feel as exhausting when you have experience leading a team, and you’ll have a solid skillset behind you to help you succeed.

    How volunteering improves your leadership skills and employability


    There are many traits that you pick up when you volunteer abroad. From strategic thinking to time management, and even listening, they all work together to make you an effective leader.

    Here are some of the essential leadership skills you’ll learn and how they affect your employability:


    When you volunteer abroad where resources are scarce, one of the first skills you learn is initiative. The environment forces you to find solutions for a variety of problems and use what you have to make a long-lasting impact.

    In the business world, employers look for this key trait when hiring leadership positions. A CEO wants a forward-thinking manager who can get things done without always waiting for instructions.



    When you volunteer abroad, you have to find new ways of solving problems. Often, what you would do back home to solve a problem isn’t a feasible solution, and you’re forced to think outside the box.

    This type of environment breeds innovation. You’re driven to re-invent common practices that benefit the project.

    In the business world, you’ll need this skill to move your career forward. Companies want employees that can invent new procedures or products to advance the organization.


    One of the most important skills volunteering abroad can teach a future leader is proactiveness. It shows you how to turn a “to-do” list into action and get the results you want.

    Whether you’re building a school in Costa Rica or surveying marine life in Fiji, you’re following through and putting in the work to make the end result possible.

    Companies want employees that are “do-ers”.


    Develop your leadership skills with GVI

    For the last 20 years, GVI has run successful volunteering projects around the world. While our main focus is to make a sustainable impact, we also want the programs to be life-changing experiences for participants.

    As a result, many of our programs now carry internationally recognized qualifications through certified academic partners.

    ILM Leadership Certificate

    In partnership with The Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), GVI has designed a course to help you master the theoretical concepts around leadership and put them into practice.

    The certified course is included in all GVI internships and can be added to any GVI program longer than four weeks.

    Upon completion, you’ll also gain access to ILM’s knowledge bank of leadership resources for 12 months.


    ILM Youth Leadership Certificate

    You don’t need to be in college to start working on your employability. All our teen volunteer programs focus on improving leadership, teamwork, and cross-cultural competency among high school students.

    Due to their effectiveness, ILM has endorsed GVI’s teen volunteer programs with a youth leadership certificate. All participants receive one on completion of any GVI under 18 project.

    Learn more about improving your employability by volunteering abroad

    Take control of your future and start gaining valuable skills to boost your CV while making a sustainable difference.

    Have a few questions about our programs and qualifications? Speak to a member of our team today.

    By Zaytoen Domingo

    Zaytoen Domingo is a content writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently enrolled in the Masters program in English at the University of the Western Cape. After graduating with an Honours Degree in English and Creative Writing, Zaytoen completed a skills-development program for writers and became an alum of the GVI Writing Academy.