Gap Years and Students


1 - 12 week gap year and student volunteering placements around the world

  • Voluntary work where you can make a difference and gain skills and experience
  • Fully supported volunteer placements to ensure high levels of quality and safety

What is a Gap Year?

The term “gap year” has evolved considerably over time and whilst the duration, age groups and activities have changed one thing remains: a gap year is your opportunity to gain an amazing life experience, see the world and enhance your future academic and career prospects.

Gap years sometimes consist of a full year of travelling but for most people involve a combination of valuable work experience at home (whilst saving to travel) and then exploring the world and / or volunteering.

What can I do?

Of course you can choose to spend your gap year partying your way the world… but here at Pod we feel you can only experience a culture truly by spending some time to immerse yourself and give something back!

There are a number of volunteer projects you could consider from caring for animals in South Africa, contributing towards research at a marine conservation project or in the Amazon rainforest or working the children and communities around the world. These experiences can be combined together to make a trip of a lifetime or with other travel and sightseeing experiences.

Volunteering with animals

If you are looking at working with animals or studying a role such as Zoology or Animal Management then you could consider our Animal Care volunteer placements.

Volunteering in conservation

Students with a passion in conservation research, ecology or marine biology you could consider our Conservation volunteer projects in Belize, Peru, South Africa, Madagascar and Thailand.

Volunteer with communities and building projects

For volunteers wanting to gain experience in Building, Film & Photography or Community Development we would recommend our community projects in India, Ghana and Nepal.

Volunteering with children and teaching

If you are considering a career in working with children or teaching we would recommend our educational and child care projects around the world.

Language learning

For language learning while volunteering we particularly recommend the child care and community based projects in India, Nepal and Peru.

If you are looking at a specific career path or studying a particular degree and are looking to get applicable experience please feel free to contact us, we would be happy to give you advice.

Why should I take a Gap Year?

To refresh - After many years in the education system it’s a refreshing change to get out and explore the world and apply your education in practice. Many volunteers find that having a break away from academic life helps gives them a chance to breathe, gain perspective on future life aims and return into education (or the workplace) fresh and ready to go.

To gain recognition from future employers or universities - Universities and employers like to see that you are going above and beyond the necessary and using your gap year to its full potential shows that you are motivated. It also offers the opportunity to develop decision making, language, problem solving, communication and organisational skills. It also shows that you can be confident and independent, build relationships successfully, embrace responsibility and work as part of a team.

Work experience - Although you may be taking part on a voluntary basis, volunteering abroad is hard work! Taking a gap year or volunteering overseas shows potential employees that you are not afraid of working hard, taking on new challenges and working in new, challenging environments. This can greatly enhance and build your personal CV before you even start your career.

See the world - If you have the opportunity to take the time out and travel we would always recommend it. Later in life, many volunteers we speak to can only commit to shorter periods of time due to work commitments and other constraints. If you have the time – embrace it and don’t waste it! A gap year and volunteer trip can really be a ‘once in a lifetime experience’ to see new things, meet new people and broaden your horizons.

Give something back - Using your gap year constructively to benefit others is incredibly rewarding. At Pod we believe in a two-way benefit, we aim to match volunteers to the perfect project where their strengths can be best used and they can make the most difference. We only offer sustainable volunteering projects that have lasting and positive impact on the local community and where there is a genuine need for volunteers. Many of Pod volunteers stay in touch with their project, returning in future years or continuing to fundraise and support them on return.

Who takes a Gap Year?

Gap years can be taken by absolutely any one! The majority of volunteers joining us for gap years and under 25 however this varies from a mini-gap during the summer break or a longer trip before or after university – or after a few years of working! We also receive many volunteers joining us later in life.

Pod’s approach to Gap Years

Working in a developing country can be a daunting, challenging and exciting opportunity, but we recognise that it will also be an unfamiliar and a new experience to most people on their gap year.

A comprehensive Guide will be given to you after you apply so that you can fully understand the placement before making a commitment. You will be contacted by your dedicated Pod Volunteer Specialist who will support you at each step along the way, they may have visited the project personally and so can provide advice and guidance to you at all stages of the process from preparation, support during your placement and contact on your return.

A key part of Pod’s philosophy is to provide a high level of support to volunteers. In each of the countries we work in, there are local staff to provide support and assistance. They understand the needs of volunteers and are there to support you throughout your volunteer placement. Additionally, should you need us Pod has a 24/7 support service for volunteers.

Where do I start?

We have quite a bit of detail about each project on our website, so it’s generally best to start by spending some time reading through the different locations and projects. We also have information on each project page on the volunteer placement cost, start dates and availability.

If you would like more information or to go ahead to the next stage and apply for a place, all you need to do is complete our application form. There is no commitment by making an application and when we receive your application you will be contacted by your dedicated volunteer manager who will send you a detailed Guide on your chosen project.

If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch with us and we can help you out!