Throughout my childhood I knew I wanted to go in to some sort of charity work. I did various volunteering roles when I was younger and hoped that after university I would find the perfect charity to work for. But I ended up wanting to move to London and fell into recruitment. The experience I had that year was fantastic, and whilst I knew I wouldn't want to stay longer than a year, having that base line for my career and having built up my resilience it turned out to be a good place to stay.
After a year I took a risk and moved to Northern Thailand. As a lot of my friends and family will tell you this was so out of character. I am someone who likes routine and a plan. I emailed a few charities before I left but only heard back from a few and all my Google searches showed that it would cost a fortune to volunteer.
I was very lucky when I arrived. I moved to a small town in Northern Thailand where there was just one charity; Mercy International. I emailed the lady who ran the children's centre, met with her two days later on a Friday and began volunteering on the Tuesday. Mercy International is a charity in Thailand with three centres. I worked in the one in Phrae where there are about thirty children who have been abandoned or whose parents have died. It was an amazing year and I loved every moment. I had days when I would teach English, cook with the children, teach them sport and spend time loving them. One of the most memorable things I did was go to the Bangkok slums to pick up a baby. His mother was 17 and she did not want the baby boy as she couldn't look after him. I remember when she handed the baby to me, just six days old and I cuddled him the entire way back to the centre. The year gave me huge experiences; I learnt how to adapt to new cultures and I learnt that my skill-set was more adaptable that I thought. After the time working in the centre I travelled around the rest of South East Asia.
When I came back to England I was worried that I would not get a job but now that I had a clearer idea of what to do I narrowed down my job search and began to look for junior roles in charities and internships. I was lucky to get an internship at UNICEF which quickly turned in to a temporary job. Since leaving UNICEF I have worked in the external affairs team at Alzheimer's Society and loved every minute.
Years abroad aren't for everyone but I would massively recommend them. Find some volunteering opportunities, email charities that catch you eye and get involved. I promise you won't be disappointed. And if you are like me and fell in to a job straight out of uni you didn't really want remember that the experience will be good and all skills are transferable. For me working in the fast-paced environment of recruitment managing tight deadlines and endless to-do lists has definitely helped me along the way./p>