International volunteering has traditionally been viewed as a pursuit that, while admirable, provided little benefit for the volunteer beyond altruistic satisfaction. Yet several recent studies suggest an international volunteer placement can fast-track the development of valuable management capabilities. To date no research has offered a systematic explanation for this. This paper presents a framework outlining the unique characteristics of international volunteer placements that contribute to them being fertile learning environments. In doing so, it draws data from a longitudinal study of the learning experiences of a sample of international volunteers from Australian and New Zealand.