Before jumping into the deep waters of the job market, a lot of young graduates ask themselves: should I start looking for that dream job as quickly as possible or should I pursue something bigger? I chose the latter: let me tell you all about my experience as a volunteer in the Philippines.
A call for broader horizons
Volunteering wasn’t something that was high on my bucket list. But after graduation, right before I started looking for a job, something dawned on me. Most of my life I had been living in Brussels. I loved my city, but as an ambitious young man, I felt like it was time to push my limits. Inspired by my international group of friends, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and – literally – broaden my horizon. And why not do it as a volunteer?
Not just any job
Wanting to work as a volunteer abroad is one thing. Making it happen is another. After some googling and asking around, I found out most organizations look for people skilled in education or healthcare. Luckily, I found out about Kaloob, a small ngo. They were interested in a profile with my specific skillset, which allowed me to bring real value – which was what I was looking for.
As I had a degree and plans to start working in communication or marketing one day, it would be a nice bonus for my time abroad to count as a valuable job experience. With this in mind, I became responsible for the communication of The Kaloob Foundation. My main task was to put their communication and marketing back on track. Not only by applying my knowledge, but also by teaming up with other stakeholders and teach them what I knew .
Lessons for life
It’s a sure thing that this experience influenced me on many levels. I learned how to be more responsible, lead a team and become a problem solver. I also discovered how important it is to look from someone else’s point of view. It struck me how complex the simple fact of helping out can sometimes be. Indeed, it’s easy to impose a European way of working or to propose solutions to a problem without taking culture and context into account. However, if you want to find a solution for the problems in the Philippines, you have to think like a Pilipino.
For example, Facebook Messenger greatly outpaces emails in the Philippines. Based on that, we put together an automated Messenger version of our newsletter. Simply inspecting the local way of communicating made all the difference. Therefore, trying to understand the target group from its perspective and not from my own is a mindset I still apply in my role as a consultant.
A step worth taking
Being a volunteer thought me to be daring in a collaborative way. To take responsibility for my actions and to own up when I make a mistake. This made me more confident in the long run. As a junior profile, it’s easy to hide behind managers and to stay on the background. At The House of Marketing, however, I feel like I can step into the limelight – thanks to a solid home base and because of my experience in the Philippines. It also taught me that whatever I’m doing, in the Philippines, at The House of Marketing or elsewhere, it’s all about people eventually. So if you’re thinking about becoming a volunteer, I can only say one thing: do it. You won’t regret it!
Do you want to join us? Discover here our job opportunities