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Articles / Applying to College / Taking A Gap Year? Consider Volunteering Or Interning Overseas
Dave Berry
Written by Dave Berry | Feb. 18, 2020

Taking A Gap Year? Consider Volunteering Or Interning Overseas

Taking A Gap Year? Consider Volunteering Or Interning Overseas

Mark Mialik/Unsplash

Even though the world seems to be in upheaval right now due to the Coronavirus (recently renamed less-frightening as "COVID19") outbreak, this may be a good time for high schoolers and college students to think ahead to summer and the possible volunteer opportunities available. Obviously, I'm no expert in pandemics, but it's a good bet that international travel will still be an option by June, although the cruise ship trade seems to be taking a beating currently.


If you're an adventurous globalist looking for the chance to serve others through worthy projects, you may want to consider Projects Abroad. I've written about Projects Abroad previously, in the context of a gap year. Here's what I said about that:

We have discussed the so-called "gap year" here before. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, rest assured that it has nothing to do with trendy, preppy clothing. It simply means that some high school seniors intend to wait a full year after high school graduation before attending college. Some (perhaps the majority) go through the traditional college process during senior year and acquire their acceptances. Then, after choosing their best-fit school, exercise their option to defer attending until fall term the following year. Other seniors may choose to delay their college process until after their gap year, feeling that using the credibility of their year's "real-world" experience will enhance their college admissions chances. Either approach is valid.

Gap year plans are very flexible. Students can create their own or take advantage of pre-structured programs. One such program is Projects Abroad, which claims to be "the leading volunteer abroad organization," and offers a diverse range of international service projects, plus the opportunity to become part of one of their overseas volunteer communities ...

Regular and rolling-decision acceptances will be arriving momentarily (some may have already been issued), so this is a good time to consider your gap year options, if you've been thinking about that. Rather than discussing more traditional gap year ventures, such as working a job or traveling, I thought that the topic of international volunteerism and interning might offer some exciting alternatives for prospective gappers.

Volunteering Internationally Is One Option

The Projects Abroad site is filled with a large number of programs that can suit almost any young (or older) person's requirements. Here's how Projects Abroad describes itself:

Projects Abroad is the world's largest provider of international volunteering, internships and meaningful travel experiences. We've been running for over 25 years and have been trusted by over 120,000 participants who've joined our award-winning trips.

As champions of Responsible Travel, all our volunteer projects work towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This means you're helping to work towards a better and more sustainable future for all.

While you're making an impact, we make sure you do so safely. Safety is at the heart of everything we do, so we never outsource your welfare to others. When you book with Projects Abroad, you're with Projects Abroad from start to finish. Why is this a good thing? Because we take full accountability for what we do from the moment you first contact us, until the moment you return home.

We truly believe that travelling abroad should be easy, fun, and rewarding. That's why we take care of everything, so you can focus on making the most of your time abroad. Whether it's our impactful volunteering projects, structured internships, High School Specials, Ethical Consumerism trips or Authentic Adventures, you'll be sure to get the Projects Abroad gold standard of staff support ...

What's one of the first things parents will consider about their son or daughter going overseas to do volunteer work? Safety! Here's the scoop on that:

We believe no other provider offers the safety and security to their volunteers and interns that we do. Every single one of our Projects are thoroughly risk assessed. Every member of staff is trained to our high standards. Safety and support are at the heart of everything we do.

- We employ all our staff directly - we never use third parties or contractors

- We carefully choose our host families, to ensure security, comfort and friendliness

- We have whole teams in every destination, so if any problems or illnesses were to arise, there'll always be someone available to keep you safe and secure

- We carry out thorough risk assessments to ensure that all our project destinations are safe and politically stable

- We have an in-house medical advisor who is available to consult with you and your physician before you leave, so you can discuss any health concerns to make sure you're feeling confident about your upcoming trip ...

Their menu of projects is comprehensive. A brief sampling:

- Childcare

- Medicine & Healthcare

- Conservation & Environment

- Teaching

- Law & Human Rights

- Building

- Sports

- Micro-finance

- Archaeology

- Learn a Language

- Cultural Immersion

- Business

- Journalism

- Veterinary Medicine & Animal Care

- Social Work

- International Development

- Ethical Wine Production & Culture

- Wellness & Traditional Healing Tours

- Discovery Tours

- Authentic Food Tour

- Plastic Pollution Action ...

How About Internships?

Do an overseas internship with Projects Abroad and learn from experienced local professionals in developing countries while adding global experiences to your resume.

Through our internship placements, you can expect to:

- Get first-hand practical knowledge in your field of interest, like Medicine or Law.

- Immerse yourself in experiential education and learn by doing

Network with local and international professionals.

- Drive your career forward with real professional development.

- Our Project Experts can help you find work opportunities abroad that match your requirements and level of experience.

- Our programs run throughout the year, so we offer a variety of long and short-term internships that you can join at any time ...

Overall highlights:

Top Destinations:

- Nepal

- Ghana

- Cambodia

- Peru

- Belize

Popular Projects:

- Childcare

- Conservation

- Medicine & Healthcare

- High School Specials

- Building

Who is this for?

- High School Students

- College Students

- Gap Year Students

- Families

- Professionals and Career Breakers

- Short-Term Volunteers

- Looking for Peace Corps Alternatives

- Looking for Doctors without Borders Alternatives

GAP Year programs reside in five countries:

The Global Gap Year program starts every September. This is an incredible opportunity that takes you to five different countries around the world in 28 weeks. At the same time, you'll become part of ongoing efforts to support local communities.

From construction work in Ghana to survey dives in Thailand, you'll gain international work experience in a range of fields. It's a fantastic way to broaden your horizons and learn about global issues before going to university. You'll encounter different cultures and team up with people to address the challenges affecting local communities ...

There's much more to see about Projects Abroad, so I encourage you to visit their site. Please note that I have absolutely no affiliation whatsoever with Projects Abroad and am not trying to advocate or persuade you to participate in their programs. My aim in detailing the above highlights is to make you aware of the unusual opportunities they offer for high schoolers, college students, and even their parents.

Projects such as this can be life-changing. If you would like to see what former project participants have to say about their Projects Abroad experiences, read some of the many reviews here.

Share Your Thoughts

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Check out our forum to contribute to the conversation!

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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