Mercedes Petrellis, TechGirlz Volunteer and IT professional, shares her experiences being a Teaching Assistant for the organization. She exposes the benefits of volunteering and the personal/professional rewards gained by volunteering with the organization, such as meeting new people in the field and learning something new in tech. The full article was originally published August 21, 2018 on Mercedes’s personal blog page, Agile Dragonfly: Sharing Insights and Embracing Change.
Volunteering for a worthy cause is a selfless act – or is it? You are giving of your time and efforts, but you gain so much more in return. I’ll share with you why I volunteer for TechGirlz. My hope is you’ll consider volunteering for a cause you believe in and see similar benefits.
Supporting a cause
Volunteer for causes you are passionate about. This way, you are spending your time towards a solution. It can give you a sense of accomplishment and control in that you can affect change in your community.
As a women working in IT, I want to encourage young girls to learn about technology in a way that interests them. TechGirlz is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the gender gap in technology occupations by focusing on girls at the crucial middle school age. Women make up only a quarter of jobs in IT. The numbers go down from there – 5% for Asian women, 3% for African-American women and 1% for Hispanic women. The number of women in tech in the United States has declined steadily since 1984. To make it worse, women are leaving the field faster than they are entering it.
It’s important to me to support women in IT now and in the future. It’s about inclusion and creating opportunities for everyone. Technology drives all aspects of our world and it’s important for us all to be represented. Understanding technology gives young girls opportunities for growth, new perspectives and possibly a future career goal.
Learn Something New
Many volunteering opportunities allow you to try something new. Organizations need help and so many tasks can be learned “on the job”. It’s a great way to get out of your comfort zone and be given opportunities you might not otherwise get.
TechGirlz offers girls free hands-on workshops showcasing different technologies. I’ve assisted at the workshops teaching Infographics, Ruby on Rails, Linux, Crowdsourcing and WordPress. I’ve broadened my technical knowledge, sharpened my presentation skills and improved my problem-solving abilities (because public library computers are never without a problem to fix). Technology is always changing and having a love of learning is critical.
During the workshop, it’s my favorite part to encourage the girls to explore, test and even break the technology. Making mistakes is where the learning happens. It’s a great reminder to just have fun and explore.