Thailand volunteering Vacancies

1. You mentioned that you are different from other NGOs in your approach to volunteering, mainly in that your organisation is very hands-on? Can you please elaborate more on this and tell me exactly what makes you so different and why you chose a different approach to volunteering?

As you know we are virtually all based in Thailand. I am the founder of Starfish and have volunteered on all our projects. Moreover before we take on a new placement I volunteer for 3-5 days checking the program. It is important our volunteers make a genuine difference and they have a positive experience. In variably I volunteer with the first group to join a new placement too. This firsthand experience allows me to plan and develop placements thus ensuring the continued success of the placement. In addition all volunteers have the opportunity to speak to me prior to arrival. I relay all my firsthand knowledge to ensure it is the right placement for them. It is very important to Starfish that our volunteers know exactly what to expect on their placement; from their airport pick up through to their daily routine.

2. You mentioned that employers might see volunteers as people who are ethical and giving. What other traits might employers find valuable in a person who has been a volunteer that someone who has not had a volunteer experience might be less likely to possess?

The recruitment market is becoming even more competitive, with the current economic situation applicants must ensure their CV stands out. I used to work for The Economist years ago. We regularly received 100s of CVs for vacant positions. Most all had the relevant qualifications. What was always in mind is that I was potentially working with these people for a few years or more. For me applicants who made their job and personal experiences interesting stood out. Moreover what did their CV tell me about them as an individual. So many people would write the bog standard; Good in a team, works well as an individual, likes reading and exercise. To be honest just dull and expected. CVs with interesting and honest hobbies, stories of travelling independently, membership of social groups or sports clubs, free time activities. This is the proof of being independent and a team player. Applicants must make their CV an interesting read. I have no idea how many people graduate each year with a 2-1 or above but I imagine it is not an insignificant sum. Or how many people with a 2-1 or above and 2-3 yrs working experience are currently in the job market.

Volunteering shows your strength as an individual, your strength of character and your ability to be independent. It shows a person who is confident and willing to show up in a strange land on their own. Moreover during any placement volunteers work as team, integrate with the local community and show their altruistic side. All positive attributes needed to be an employee who will make a difference and work diligently.

3. How might being a volunteer benefit a person's career overall in the long term?

Volunteering helps develop inter-personal skills, gives you firsthand experience of living and working abroad. Maybe opening your eyes to opportunities outside of your home country. In my opinion it is positive personal development.

4. You mentioned that you try very hard to make sure your volunteers are safe and taken care of. Do you offer any other types of support or training to them as preparation? Especially any that might be useful when applied to other scenarios? [such as the work environment]

Firstly we have a great support team of Thai nationals looking after our volunteers. They do much more than they are supposed to. They are always looking after volunteers in their free time. We are very lucky. Any needed training is given on site, such as working with turtles, gibbons or elephants on our animal welfare and conservation placements. For our development projects we find practical solutions to support communities and families. Volunteers will learn why a particular project is important learning problem solving techniques. Most likely situations will arise where them and their volunteers will have to solve problems during their placement.

5. Some of your volunteer programs sounded interesting and atypical-such as gibbon rehabilitation and dog rescue. Could you please tell more about these programs, what made your company decide to venture into these areas, and how it affects volunteers to do something really different while making a difference?

Personally I am a big animal lover. I am always interested in animal welfare and conservation projects. I have two ex-stray dogs myself and working with a rescue centre was a must. There are so many stray dogs in Thailand, on every street. All with many medical problems such as mange. The Phuket centre has neutered over 14,000 dogs trying to reduce the number of puppies each season. They also try and find homes for the dogs that have been brought to the centre. John who runs the centre works incredibly hard and always needs more volunteers to help look after the 400 dogs.

On a number of trips to tourist areas I have seen baby gibbons being used a props for photos with tourists. I know how these babies are brought into the tourist industry. The mother and perhaps father would have been killed. Moreover once they grow too big to handle they too will be killed. It is horrendous. I was keen to find a project that rescued these beautiful creatures from the tourist industry and returned them to the wild. The centre in Phuket does fantastic work and again we are pleased to support their work.

6. Please tell me more about medical related volunteer opportunities and how this might help a prospective med student, or any student, in their career path.

I understand from nursing volunteers they have a tough job finding work after graduation. Similar to the reasons I put in the question above practical nursing experience abroad must enhance a CV. All our medical related placements are approved by Thailand's Department of Health and guidelines for volunteers are strictly adhered to. We now have nursing and therapy placements and can offer a hospital rotation placements for people studying to be a doctor.

7. You have teaching opportunities listed. Do you also offer TEFL certification?

No, we offer a introductory TEFL course over a weekend or home study DVD. Both are sufficient to teach in Thailand.

8. You seem to be very aware of the difference a volunteering experience may make on a CV or resume. Do you offer additional assistance in this area for students who may need help preparing for their careers?

We are happy to act a reference for our volunteers.

9. Your company is currently centered around Thailand and its people. Any plans in the future to expand to other areas of the world?

Yes, we would like to help other SE Asian countries. However we need to ensure we supporting all our projects to their requirements before taking on new project and new countries.

10. What is the most important element of the volunteering abroad experience that will affect the life of a volunteer?

The rewards of helping other less fortunate and see how rural Thai people live. They are incredibly poor, happy and have a huge sense of community. It is a very humbling experience.