Heeding the call: How (and why) to volunteer your IT skills

For IT leaders looking to give back, doing meaningful volunteer work offers something your day job may not: Becoming part of the solution. Here's how to give back by getting involved.

Hands clasped in a heart shape against a background of abstract data / collaboration / empathy
Ilyast / Violka08 / Getty Images

Your team, company, and customers rely on you every day. Some days — okay, most days — it feels like there’s an apocalypse and you’re holding the line between your company’s data and the enemy. Obviously, this keeps you busy.

That said, have you considered volunteering your skills for a good cause?

The apocalypse is not confined to your job. It’s everywhere. Human trafficking is a global industry. Education is failing to create people with technical skills. Gender disparity is a massive problem. Electronic waste is destroying our water. Misinformation is rampant.

You — more than most people — can help solve these problems. Because of the industry you work in, the skills you have, and the benefits you enjoy, some would say you owe it to the world to help.

“Think about the exponential growth of technology in last 20 to 30 years,” says Atefeh Riazi, chief information technology officer and assistant secretary-general for information and communications technology for the United Nations.  “Technology has provided huge positive momentum. It has also created the dark web, cyber intrusions, fake news, and other problems. Yet the tech sector has not come to the table saying, ‘I own that problem. I will fix it.’ It has left it to the UN. The biggest call for giving back lies not with our government nor with the NGOs. It belongs with the tech community.”

Perhaps the question is not why, then, but how should you help? Going to drought-stricken countries to hand out water may not be an option. But maybe that’s not the best use of your skills anyway.

Find what fits

For Bill McCorey, SVP and CIO for Universal Parks and Resorts in Florida, volunteering started with a near-death experience.

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