If during a person’s academic/professional career there is the time and opportunity to go abroad, one must certainly take it and run. As a student, any kind of international experience – whether it be volunteer service, study abroad, or an internship can enhance a resume and help one stand out among a sea of job applicants. To help set up your experience are things called “providers” – organizations that you pay to organize whatever trip you want to go on. Here’s some tips on navigating through the world of travel providers.
1. Narrow down place/time
Are you available for just a week during spring break? Or are you looking to give a year of your life to a cause? Before diving into the search, know the duration that you are able to participate. Do you want to be somewhere warm and tropical? Or in a metropolitan hub? You may not have the exact city and country pinpointed but at least have a continent or region in mind. Also, be realistic about your language capabilities and how that will apply in your destination of choice.
2. Know how you want to contribute
Do you want to make coffee in Costa Rica? Or test for tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa? Be specific in the exact field you want to work in and know that the kind of work opportunities available may not be from the comfort of an office.
3. Know your budget range
Consider food, housing, and program fee. Then add on fees for travelling and sight-seeing. Some programs are all-inclusive, some are free in exchange for service, some offer ways to fund your trip. Know exactly what you’re getting out of it and plan ahead before signing on the dotted line.
4. Do a general Internet search, then through a travel search engine
See what you can find on your own through Google and then try a trusted search engine like goabroad.com or goinglobal.com (get access through HuskyCareerLink!). Everything you need to know about “voluntourism” is right at your fingertips, you just have to collect and sift through.
5. Consider providers already partnered with your school/organization
There’s a reason why schools partner up with organizations to send students abroad – good experiences came out of it and trusted connections were formed. Consider options that have already been proven to satisfy.
6. Beware of flashy websites and pictures
Be careful of programs that boast more pictures than words and that seem to promise eternal happiness during this one trip. Know how to look beyond the glitz and attraction of travel and look at what they’re offering with a clear and logical head. Your experience will be much better off for it. A provider must customize your experience, not provide a one-size-fits-all to every traveler.
7. Ensure on-site safety and resources
Are there program staff who you will have access too when you arrive? What are the emergency phone numbers you can contact? The provider you choose should be especially thorough with this; you should always feel safe and taken care of. They should be good with the logistics so that you can enjoy yourself, learn a new culture, and grow professionally!
Angelica is a fourth-year nursing student with a minor in English hailing from New Jersey. She has studied or worked in all the major Boston hospitals. Angelica is also a columnist for The Huntington News and enjoys writing creative non-fiction.
Photo Source: GeoVisions blog