Why Volunteering Abroad is Important for Students' Employability
By Dr. Charlotte Coleman
Student Engagement and Experience Lead and Employability and Placement Lead
Sheffield Hallam University students have been privileged to be involved with SLV.Global for a number of years. Our students have worked in mental health settings with SLV.Global right across Asia, on both short and longer term volunteer contracts. This work experience has been invaluable for them in developing the skills and experience for future graduate level work.
Many Psychology students have career interests in the field of mental health, however as any look at a careers website will tell you, it is a difficult field to enter into as a professional. Competition for training programmes is tough and applicants have to work hard to shine above the rest.
There are two routes to helping yourself stand out from other applicants – have more qualifications, or more experience (or both!). Postgraduate study in Psychology is beneficial, but don’t underestimate the efficacy of work experience as a vehicle to career progression. Many training programmes in mental health insist on you having some experience.
SLV.Global has offered our students the opportunity to stand out from the crowd. The work has allowed them to experience the realities of working in mental health fields. This is important as knowing whether this is right for you needs to be known before you use your time and money to pursue your career. Our students have used these opportunities to help them start, and extend, their career plans. Here are some quotes from past volunteers who joined SLV.Global from Sheffield Hallam University:
Olivia Royston - "SLV.Global helped me develop so many skills, as well as giving me an opportunity to learn a vast amount about mental health in a incredible country. I couldn't have imagined a more welcoming and friendly company to volunteer with".
Stefanie Petrouis - "I think everything really stems from my home stay, I was well looked after and most definitely well fed by my beautiful home stay Amma (Mother). I loved the food and the lifestyle that came with it! But the biggest and most important part of my experience was obviously the projects and mental health work. I went for experience and I definitely left with more than I ever could have asked for. Each project was so different to the next, you could be working with small children right up to working with adults - there isn’t a day that doesn’t offer you handfuls of new experience. It's more than a placement for me, it showed me my strengths and allowed me to really broaden myself and my experiences".
Charlotte Dimitrov - "I was part of the September 5th team out in Bali and Java. It was an absolutely incredible experience to work in the psychiatric hospitals not only in Bali but also in Java and I felt very privileged being able to do so. For me, learning about other cultures' attitudes towards mental health and their way of life was fascinating. Being able to meet volunteers who studied the same course from all corners of the world was another amazing opportunity and I have made some life friends from the experience. Being able to travel at the weekends is also a plus of the placement as you get explore Bali and there are so many beautiful things to do and see! You have to be very flexible and expect things to change at the last minute but I wouldn't say that affected my experience at all. I would say this was one of the best things I've ever done! The placement has inspired me to continue to chase my dream of working in Mental Health and has opened so many doors for me. Thanks SLV.Global"!
Each year we have more students applying to SLV.Global as they hear from previous volunteers about the great experiences they have had, not just in the work setting, but also from living abroad and meeting new people. We encourage and support our students as we know volunteering provides you with skills and improves your chances of career success, and this benefits both you and the people you volunteer to help. What could be better?