Being in the IT world, it is not uncommon for professionals to hop from job to job as their services are needed. These jobs can vary by project scope and industry. One month you may be working for a financial services firm IT department and the next, a healthcare provider. The great thing about being in IT is that professionals are always needs in a variety of ways to maintain and fix all-things-technical.
However, if you are between jobs (whether it be momentary or long-term) there is one thing you can do that will not only benefit you but help others in need: volunteer. By volunteering, you can simultaneously build your portfolio and contribute to a nonprofit that may not have extensive funding for all its projects.
A growing number of organizations across industries are now seeking volunteers with tech skills to work remotely to help them with projects ranging from website creation, designing graphics, writing documents and database coding. These “virtual volunteer” opportunities are great for IT professionals who are looking to keep their skills sharp during some downtime with a couple freelance projects.
Companies like volunteermatch.org and grassroots.org help match IT volunteers in NYC with organizations (similar to how a staffing firm works) and lets the two communicate privately afterwards to discus the scope of the project and what exactly is needed. Most of the projects don’t require face-to-face interaction and are great for those that are self-motivated and can easily work alone. In doing so, instead of having to report to an office daily as a volunteer, you can work on the project from the comfort of your own space, and at your own pace.
It is important to remember though, that even though you are working at home you should always keep in touch regularly with your contact. Don’t just deliver the end product but create a relationship with them that could last beyond the project. And of course, you should never be afraid to share new ideas and take the initiative with things – just because you are not getting paid every other week does not mean you can’t bring your same passion to a volunteer opportunity. Suggesting a new process or product that is successful, may pave the way for bigger and better opportunities down the road.
Despite the lack of monetary payment, there are obvious benefits for you, the volunteer, that will be taken away from these experiences. Not only will you be able to build your portfolio, but also you will build your personal network and experience different industries that may interest you in the future – when the time for full-time employment comes around.