IT for Free: Volunteering Today1 | 2 |
Further, more experienced professionals might find that their career trajectories are harmed if they engage in volunteer work. From the perspective of a recruiter considering the candidate’s resume, a professional position followed by a volunteering opportunity could be seen as a step backward, potentially indicating previous poor performance.
To avoid this perception, the experienced candidate will need to ensure that the volunteering position is no less senior than his or her last position, implicitly indicating that he or she has continued to apply relevant field experience in the new opportunity.
The Challenges of an Evolving Industry
The challenges of a tough economy affect the funding available for extended volunteer opportunities at an organization. Some organizations are scaling back their investments in or temporarily eliminating professional internships. That’s because internships are supported by the notion that the organization potentially is investing in future full-time employees, and when funding internally becomes tight, these programs don’t directly offer a high-value outcome for the company’s bottom line — and therefore they don’t merit involvement from senior executives.
Further, as the technology community evolves, the type of opportunities available change. For example, the number of entry-level or low-experience contracts published to public job sites has exploded in recent years as firms recognize that engaging contractors is a way to obtain IT or development assistance without incurring additional head count. Also, as the popularity of open-source licensed applications has proliferated, so too have the opportunities to contribute to these products.
Young IT professionals have plenty of opportunities to log in time with new technologies and build hands-on experience. A professional willing to be patient, find a volunteer opportunity that matches his or her ability and accept lower levels of compensation may find a tool to build a base of experience in the hopes of securing a more extended, full-time position in the future.
Wayne Anderson is a highly certified instructional consultant and the certification lead for Avanade, a global Microsoft consultancy. He can be reached at email@example.com .1 | 2 |