At some point in your life, you’ve probably benefited from someone’s goodwill. After you establish yourself, or even while you’re in college, you can pay it forward using your IT skills.
The hustle and bustle of every-day life can be stressful, but you can change things up and by volunteering and helping those that could use a helping hand such as nonprofits, schools, or even your local church. For most of us, it feels good to volunteer. So, if you’re wondering how you can do it as an IT pro, here are three skills that can make you a super volunteer.
1. WiFi and LAN Setup
You might be surprised how many of your local nonprofits still use dialup internet service. Just take your current broadband speed and take it down to only a fraction, and you’ll discover how difficult it can be to browse the internet without WiFi.
It used to be that having internet access was a privilege, but it’s a necessity now for any business. And this is where your networking skills come in handy. Consider this: WiFi also saves people money on their data plans, so if the business has cell phone usage, connecting the smartphone to a WiFi connection will improve your client’s IT costs.
As an IT professional, you know that setting up WiFi is pretty standard and a router costs under $100. CompTIA’s Network+ certification will help you understand wireless standards, configurations, and the cybersecurity you need to protect the organization from outside threats.
2. Refurbishing PCs
It’s fun building your own computers. IT people in large organizations are tasked with replacing hardware components in an effort to have users back to work as quickly as possible.
You can use this knowledge to help your local church or nonprofit. Most of these places don’t have the budget for high-end expensive machines, but you can refurbish one of your own personal machines that you no longer need. If you ask, they might even let you refurbish one of theirs.
Certain components such as CPU and RAM are delicate and require specific handling. You can learn a lot of the critical information needed to avoid frying components with training for the CompTIA A+ certification.
3. Use Your Programming Skills to Teach Kids or Set Up a Nonprofit Web Presence
If you love to program, what better way to give back to the community than teaching children basic programming? You don’t need to have advanced programming knowledge to teach someone how to set up a basic HTML page, and even program with basic console statements. Due to budget constraints, many schools lack the resources and staff to teach even junior-level programming. You can give these kids an advantage that they won’t get unless they go to college.
You also can also use your programming knowledge to create local websites for nonprofits. You don’t need to create an expensive setup. Wix or Weebly gives you the option to have an attractive website at a low cost. WordPress hosting is also an affordable option for a non-profit. Just make sure they know to renew hosting and the domain name to avoid losing it to cyber squatters.
There are numerous certifications that can give you the knowledge needed for programming. Microsoft has a Certified Solution Developer (MCSD) exam that you can take to learn the skills you need to develop mobile and web apps. You can also get certified in Java (OCPJP) or Linux administration certifications to manage your client’s hosts. Even a newbie programmer can help a nonprofit set up a simple website and manage it with very little overhead. Just a few static pages can help the organization have a web presence.
Find Your Nonprofit
Unless you live in the boondocks or a remote, deserted island, it’s very likely there’s a church, school, or nonprofit close to you. Call them, or better yet, swing by sometime and share your IT experience and what you have to offer.
Remember there’s no better price than free. As long as you are polite, energetic, and explain how your IT expertise can be of service, most will at least hear you out. You’d be surprised at how much you can give back to organizations in need of IT support. Good luck, and thanks for volunteering your services.
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