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Volunteering with work abroad

Given that you're visiting this resource center, we're pretty sure you're interested in volunteering in another country. However, we also recognize that some people—whether due to interest, career ambitions, or financial necessity—will instead seek to work abroad, volunteering during their off hours or on weekends. If this mirrors your situation, read on.

The first step is to determine the who, what, where, when, and how of working abroad. Think about your motivations for seeking paid employment in another country—are you hoping to learn a new skill? Build an international CV or résumé? Self-fund the exploration of a new country? Knowing more about why you want to work abroad will help you determine what types of jobs would be the best fit. Also, start thinking about when you'd like to go, how long you'd like to stay, and where in the world you'd like to work, volunteer, and travel (check out our section on making a decision to volunteer abroad for tips on this process.)

Once you've got a pretty good idea of the type of work you're seeking, you're ready to tackle the question of who (or more accurately, which organization) to work for. Here you've got two options:

Short-term work abroad

Whether you're on a gap year or simply want to work abroad on a short-term basis, there are a number of programs and opportunities available to you. To learn more, visit one of these comprehensive resources for short-term work abroad opportunities:

Long-term work abroad

Alternatively, you can seek long-term work in another country. To get started, we recommend you read the Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers (note that there are actually two versions: one for first-time job seekers and another for those seeking to switch careers), especially the section on Going Global in Chapter Six; you'll find a number of invaluable tips for long distance job searching and decision making. An additional resource to check out for information on long-term international employment is this section of TransitionsAbroad.com. Then, once you're ready to start looking for international positions, start searching our database of international nonprofit jobs here; you'll find additional international job boards listed on TransitionsAbroad.com.

Finally, for more information on working abroad, be sure to check out these great resources developed by the University of Michigan International Center as well as these on AbroadView.org. And to start figuring out how and where to volunteer during your time off, click here.


The logistics of working abroad

Choosing to live and work in a country other than your own likely involves a range of logistical challenges, from visas and red tape on residency and taxation issues, to linguistic and cultural differences, to potential difficulties presented by your target country's economic and political stability. Careful research is essential to learning about and overcoming these challenges. You'll have to take the lead, but many of the resources on this page, as well as other IVRC pages like Know Before You Go and Getting Ready to Go, can help.