Whatever your age, your diploma or your language skills, you can find unpaid voluntary work abroad if you are motivated and dynamic.
The benefits of such an experience are far-reaching: language learning, new skills, a life experience, meeting people, setting up a network of friends and professionals. Some experiences are validated by certificates. In short, it will really flesh out your CV!
The European Voluntary Service (EVS)
You want to feel useful, help out an association or an organisation working in the public interest, and at the same time move away from home while immersing yourself in an environment and a language you don’t know. The European Voluntary Service is part of the European « Erasmus + : youth and sport » programme giving you the opportunity of experiencing civic action in Europe and indeed throughout the world.
Who can apply? Young people aged between 17 and 30
How? Find a sending organisation near to where you live.
For how long? 2 to 12 months
What are the requirements? You don’t need a diploma or any particular language skills.
Practical pointers: volunteers receive pocket money. Your transport and accommodation costs and social cover are paid for. You benefit from free language classes.
And when you get back? The Youth Pass validates the skills acquired during this experience.
For what type of project? Ecology, culture, the fight against racism, equal opportunities… consult the European Commission’s database for ideas and examples.
Get your information and sort out the admin early on. You need at least 6 months between the moment you start your project and your actual departure.
Sign up on Youthnetwork to find a host organisation in Europe.
International Internship Programm – VIE
The VIE, the International Internship Programme, is a French international corporate placement programme for young professionals between the age of 18 and 28 who are European Union nationals. Becoming a VIE means going abroad to carry out a remunerated professional assignment for 6 to 24 months whilst benefiting from protective public law coverage.
Mainly intended for students, recent graduates or those looking for a job, between the age of 18 and 28, the French International Internship Programme offers a highly-rewarding professional experience, a real springboard for an international career.
The VIE is dedicated to all professions: financial, marketing, international business and trade, corporate auditing, accounting, mechanics, electronics, telecommunications, I.T., construction and civil engineering, agronomy, tourism, law, human resources, and many more… Leading international groups and SMEs advertise their assignment offers on the CIVIWEB website. Any company who has a legal entity in France is eligible for the VIE programme.
International Internship is not voluntary work. VIE are paid an all-inclusive monthly expenses allowance, which varies depending on the assignment country, but regardless of the level of qualification.
International Solidarity Volunteering
International Solidarity Volunteering gives you the opportunity of travelling to a developing country to carry out a humanitarian action or development cooperation project. The 3 main fields covered are social services and childhood (28%), teaching and training (24%), health, nutrition and health related equipment (21%).
Who for? Any person over the age of 18 without a job, ready to work full-time.
For how long? For a maximum duration of 6 years overall, each contract being limited to 2 years.
Under what conditions? The projects must be conducted through international organisations approved by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The law provides for a preparatory course before leaving and supervision during the project.
Practical pointers: the volunteer receives an indemnity of between €100 and €676, together with benefits in kind (payment of transport, accommodation and food), and an additional indemnity (variable according to the country) linked to working abroad.
Volunteers benefit from social cover.
And afterwards? Volunteers receive social and professional support when they return and the experience they have acquired may well be validated. This measure enables volunteers to convert experience acquired during a project into a diploma (total or partial validation of the diploma according to each case).
Don’t fall for the standard images and clichés of humanitarian work. Get yourself well-informed and prepare yourself before leaving, otherwise you may well be disillusioned. You should understand the economic, social and cultural situation of your country of destination to make your contact with the people easier and help you act more efficiently.
Don’t forget your vaccinations (yellow fever, typhoid, tuberculosis, rabies etc.) and get them done as soon as your application is accepted. Don’t forget to get yourself an international logbook of vaccinations recording the details.
These are proposed by a number of youth and popular education organisations. The aim of these workshops is to build educational, health and social structures, organise reforestation projects etc. In addition to the project itself, their aim is to foster encounters and exchange with young people in the host country.
Preparing for this intercultural meeting, both for those who go there and their hosts, is one of the key factors for the workshop to be successful.
Generally open to groups rather than individual applications: 6 to 10 young people.
Who for? Young people aged 15 to 25 with or without specific professional skills.
For how long? From 2 weeks to one month, mainly in Senegal, Benin, Burkina Faso, Morocco etc. Some workshops take place in countries in East Europe and Latin America.
For what task? Renovation and development projects supported by organisations from the North or through partnerships with the South, focused on education (e.g. construction or renovation of classrooms or schools), culture (e.g. organising theatre activities), sport (e.g. sports meetings), activities (e.g. organising holiday camps), social work etc.
Practical pointers: the workshops don’t provide any particular guarantees – no indemnity or specific rights etc. Only the living conditions on-site (transport, accommodation etc.) can be negotiated according to the youth groups and project partners.