World Youth Skills Day – How I rose to the challenge | By Will Holden

During my 12 week placement with Challenges Worldwide in Zambia, I developed many skills that have helped me with my personal and professional development.


Immediately it became apparent that to be part of the ICS programme you have to be organised. Leading up to placement there is a lot to prepare for; this includes all your pre-departure medical checks and vaccinations, as well as preparing documents for Visa’s and a variety of other things. Organisation skills can be applied to all positions, and taking part in an ICS placement really helps to develop these.


Strong interpersonal communication and listening skills allow you to communicate in a trustworthy manner. Working with other people, who may be from diverse backgrounds, with different perspectives, values and opinions can often be a challenge. Developing these skills is essential in consulting as countries continue to become more diverse. Challenges Worldwide helped direct and develop my communication techniques as well as understand the potential cultural differences that may occur on placement.


Personally, the greatest area of my development was through my awareness of world issues and international development. This is a subject/industry that I find particularly interesting, and I always try to keep an eye on events. However, I struggled to understand, as a young graduate, how I could assist. This is why Challenges Worldwide/ICS is such a great programme, as they help you transfer your skillsets into unfamiliar areas. As my placement and many future placements will often be in rural, poverty stricken areas, it’s vital to understand how different day to day life is and to have the ability to apply your skills. Having a strong support network and access to resources will guide you along your journey, and these are great to share with in-country volunteers and individuals.

On my return, I was much more confident to drive myself to succeed. I could comfortably be interviewed for various positions, and my placement gave me more of an idea of where I wanted to go in life, and how the skills I learned can be used more effectively.

For the past two years I’ve worked in both the financial and medical sectors, I wouldn’t have had the ability to achieve this without my placement with Challenges Worldwide.