A lot of people have been asking how I did it. How I organised my own volunteering trip to Peru. Well, the truth is, I just found it ridiculous to pay absurd amounts of money to an organisation in order to work – for free. Here in Lima I have been half volunteering and half interning at a Spanish School for foreigners. I am both teaching Business English and managing the marketing and social media for the school. But how did I find this?
Here are my tips:
- Know what you want.
Before you even begin, you have to know exactly what kind of work you’re looking for and where you want to go. Do you want to teach? Or would you prefer manual work? You have to have that sorted in your mind before you even begin looking.
- Google is your best friend.
Once you know what you want, start looking online. The more you search, the easier it will be to find your search path. It may feel like you’re hitting brick walls at first, but don’t loose hope. It gets easier.
- Search for Expat and Erasmus groups on Facebook.
These online communities were a massive help. They include people that are native and foreigners who have moved to the country. I’m a part of the group ‘Brasilieiros em Lima’ and you can post any questions and get quick and personalised answers from people with experience.
- Find people from that country.
In continuation from the point above, you must have at least one person that you’re friends with on Facebook that knows someone from the country you want to go to. Find them, they are valuable.
- Polish your CV.
Spend time polishing your CV. This will not only help give a good first impression, but will help you figure out what your skills are. Remember it goes both ways, you’re scared of working somewhere you’ve never been and know no one, but they’re also scared of hiring and trusting someone they’ve never met.
- Send e-mails until your fingers hurt.
This is the most effective part. Once you find volunteering places that interest you, contact them. South American’s are known for taking a while to answer, so don’t be scared to e-mail them more than once to show that you’re definitely interested in working there. The one’s that answer will be very happy to hear from you.
Once you’ve narrowed down what you want…
- Use Google Maps and Google Earth.
Know the area as best you can. Find transport information, see distances and traffic, become a local before you even arrive.
- Have a Skype Interview.
The best way to know if the place your going is legit is to have an interview via Skype. (and ask for the contact of people who have previously worked there).
- Research the area.
Know all the good areas and the ones to avoid. Research the culture of the country, know what you’re going into so that you don’t face any unwanted surprises.
- Begin the search for accommodation.
Now you have to find where to live! Go back to the Facebook groups and friends, maybe they’ll be able to help!
P.S: There is a great website called www.workaway.info that can help you with that free volunteering job search.