7 Steps to Becoming a Volunteer for a Long-Term ESC Programme

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Dariia Zakharchenko, a member of the NGO Center for Euroinitiatives and a participant of EU4Youth Alumni Network, shared her experience as a participant of long-term volunteering. This article highlights seven steps which make you closer to the world of international volunteering.  Read and grasp new opportunities!

Dariia’s experience began after participation in a training course “To be a mentor”, held in Georgia. After this event, she realized that a good mentor should have volunteering experience, and Dariia started looking for all possible opportunities.

There are various types of volunteer projects:

Individual volunteering lets young people participate in the daily work of organisations and lasts between 2 and 12 months, and in some cases, 2 weeks and up.

Volunteering teams are groups of 10–40 young people from at least two different countries who volunteer together for a period of between 2 weeks and 2 months.

Covered expenses:
  • health insurance (Cigna);
  • Visa expenses;
  • travel costs;
  • pocket money;
  • nutrition;
  • accommodation;
  • language support (in long-term projects);
  • additional activities;
  • Youthpass certificate after the end of the project.
Terms of participation:
  • a volunteer does not replace the primary worker;
  • age 18–30 y. o. ;
  • the ability to volunteer several times (in a short-term project);
  • 30–38 working hours of weekly employment;
  • registration in the European Solidarity Corps database.
How to apply for a programme

To find a volunteering programme and apply for it, you should stick to specific recommendations:

Step 1. Find out relevant information about volunteering

Step 2. Register on the European Youth Portal and get a personal number:

  • register in ECAS system;
  • on the page of European Youth Portal find a button “Join the corps!”;
  • fill in the required information;
  • receive an e-mail with a number and a link to a personal profile.

Step 3. Find “your” project:

  • European Youth Portal, section “Projects”;
  • Facebook/Telegram;
  • Local GOs which work with volunteers.

Dariia wanted to volunteer in a country that differs from Ukraine, so she chose a project in Turkey. Her responsibilities included conducting workshops for children and an English Club for the museum and NGO volunteers, volunteering at the museum, coordinating interns, and learning Turkish.

Step 4. CV:

  • select a resource (e.g. Europass documents);
  • fill in your personal information according to the template;
  • take into account the “golden rules” of writing a resume;
  • download to PDF;
  • add actual files;
  • update resume.

Useful life-hacks:

  • concentrate on the most essential information (no more than 1–2 pages);
  • follow a logical sequence (first education, then work and volunteering);
  • adapt the data according to the chosen position (highlight your strengths);
  • add a photo;
  • pay attention to the formatting (reread the text to correct errors);
  • indicate only accurate data.

Step 5. Motivation letter:

  • get acquainted with the information about the project;
  • choose the format (text, video);
  • do not use universal templates;
  • add contacts of people who can give recommendations about you;
  • (optionally) attach diplomas, certificates.

Step 6. Contact a sending organization.

It can be both your and partner-countries organization.

Step 7. Prepare for the interview

  • agree on a platform, where the meeting will be held;
  • give an advantage to video format;
  • present yourself briefly;
  • explain why you do fit for this project;
  • listen to the questions carefully;
  • ask questions;
  • clarify when to wait for feedback.

After you have passed the selection, prepare to apply for a visa, submit documents to the embassy, buy tickets and go to ESC!

First of all, pay attention to the project, not the country.

Q&A session

Who is given priority in the selection?

  1. People with disabilities (physical/economic);
  2. People who meet the age criteria and who have a convincing cover letter.

What to do if you lost your passport?

Immediately after losing your passport, you need to notify the police and tell them where you could have missed it.

You will then receive a certificate of loss of the document. Just in case, take two photos in advance. They may be needed on departure. Once you receive a certificate of loss of a document from the police, you must go to the embassy for a certificate of entry into your home country.

However, you need to confirm your identity at the consulate. This will require any documents: driver’s license or the same copies of the passport. Therefore, to avoid confusion, it is better to immediately contact the curator of the volunteer organization and discuss on an action plan in advance.

How to search for sending organizations?

  1. Contact the info centre on Facebook.
  2. Write to the European Youth Parliament (EYP).

Is tuition (for music/dance lessons) paid for?

No, just a foreign language. Only if it is written in the agreement, but usually this does not happen.

Is there a maximum of projects?

If it is a team project — no.

If an individual — a total of up to 12 months.

How does the organization communicate with volunteers?

Everything is written in the conditions, and the organization is obliged to help its volunteers with any difficulties: to make sure that compensation for paperwork and tickets are paid, to provide advice on public transport, bank accounts, etc.

Did something need to be done after the project?

Write a post-feedback.

Do you need a certificate of English language proficiency?

No.

Now you know that international volunteering is accessible, easy to get to, and you can choose a program that will help you implement your knowledge and learn a lot about another culture. So opt for your perfect project, apply and start gaining invaluable experience!


Written by Mariia Ridkous