IT for Free: Volunteering Today

“Sorry, Mr. Smith: You have a great resume and the school you graduated from has an excellent computer science program, but we just need someone with more experience.”

“Nicole, you have a lot of potential and I would love to hire you, but without more experience you may not be able to keep up with the needs of our department. Come back in a couple years.”

These conversations, and so many like them, are all too familiar for novice IT professionals. It’s a catch-22 situation: Companies are looking for experienced professionals, even for entry-level positions, but it is difficult to obtain experience without being able to work for these larger firms. This is especially true in today’s competitive marketplace, where jobs are increasingly scarce and the race for each available position is increasingly tight.

For years, entry-level programmers and administrators have been turning to volunteering to build the basic hands-on experience that leads to future opportunities. In the lexicon of many new graduates, the word “volunteering” may conjure images of community service with children’s groups, picking up trash or other such activities. But in today’s technology-integrated society, there are many opportunities to put professional-level technical skills to use for nonprofit and commercial groups in the form of internships with an organization or lower-rate contract work, as well as making unsolicited services offers or potentially taking part in open-source projects.

It is critical that young professionals hoping to break into the field of IT understand the ins and outs of volunteering.



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