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Why I love volunteering (and you should also try it!)

By Dominika Zając
Published in Articles
December 05, 2019
3 min read

I’m a person who can’t sit at home. I’m conducting IT workshops for kids and students, sharing knowledge as a mentor during ngGirls, organizing events… and everything without a salary. But I cannot say it is a non-profit job! Let me explain why!

Women arounded by educational toys Playing with educational toys is one of the best things in teaching kids programming.

Be the change…

Years ago, someone mentioned to me Gandhi’s words “Be the change you want to see in the world”. I immediately fell in love in their sense and since then I’m trying to implement it in my life. I believe in the importance of education. I want to see more women in tech. I dream about the world where people are open to others, share their knowledge and experiences… And I work hard to change my dreams into reality. I know I cannot change the whole world. But I can change my nearest environment. And it’s exactly what makes me do!

Now it’s your turn. Grab a pen and piece of paper. Think about your big dreams. What is that? Maybe you want to fight climate change? Or help animals in need? What are the smallest steps you can take? Contact with some foundation? Organize toys collection with your friends? Remember, it doesn’t have to be revolutionary. Just do something and start changing your world. Satisfaction guaranteed!

Too pathetic to you? Check the rest of the volunteering benefits I described below.

Auditory during lecture full of people Organizing an event for 300 people? No problem at all!

Soft skills

Probably the most obvious profits of volunteering are soft skills. Doing so many things teaches you planning and time management. Moreover, your audience is so different, you have to learn how to adapt your content to various listeners and make your presentations more engaging. Public speaking or answering unexpected questions will not be longer a challenge for you. You can also learn in practice about leadership, teamwork and solving conflicts between teammates (yes, volunteers are also people and we argue too). All those skills are strongly needed in the job market. So, your CV with volunteering experience is stronger than a typical one. Big profit — don’t you think?

Programming workshop for kids I love teaching: in the photo — Greenlight 4 Girls 2018.

Hard skills

That point maybe is not so straightforward as previous but it’s true (at least in my case). Thanks to non-paid activities I discovered new programming tools and educational toys for kids, participated in many trainings and learned a lot from workshop tutorials and co-mentors. Sometimes it is something small like an alternative plugin to do something but sometimes a completely new approach to a problem. And many of these improvements I implemented later in my work life. What’s more, I see big progress in my debugging skills before teaching beginners and after (whoever seen Angular’s errors on Windows machine after a strange installation knows about what I’m writing). Mentees always show me new paths to complete some tasks, often using the way I never think about before. Thanks to that I’m much more elastic and it’s easier for me to work with e.g. legacy code. Last but not least — explaining complicated staff to children raises my abstraction to a completely new level (short exercise: try to explain variables’ concept to 6 years old kid). It’s really useful when I have to plan a big feature or understand real customer’s needs. Summarize, I learned a lot and I’m using that knowledge on my daily basis. Hope it will be similar in your case.

Kids playing with robots Yes, next photo with robots for kids… Because I just love them!

Meeting new people and places

Time for the best (in my personal opinion) advantage of volunteering — meeting new people and places. Thanks to my activities I met many awesome people who inspire me by their own example to constantly improving myself. Thanks to “locals” from workshops during the trips I’m visiting not only touristic places but also amazing hidden bars, beautiful viewpoints or restaurants with delicious food. Open, positive-thinking, energetic people from all around the globe fill my Facebook and Twitter walls with many examples of how we make our planet a better place. It’s a great honor to be surrounded by all of them!

Group of people with ngGirls flag Photo from ngGirls workshop in Budapest.

Now, time for you!

You’ve just read my story — maybe it’s time to start yours? I’m pretty sure there are a lot of organizations around you which just waiting for your involvement. And even more, ideas to realize. So… be like Nike — just do it! Be the change you want to see in the world. Good luck!


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articlevoluteeringnonProfitinspiration
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How to add an SSH key to your GitHub account and why you need it?
Dominika Zając

Dominika Zając

Full-stack developer

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