We get a lot of questions about learning, but part of getting a job is also experience. Volunteering is not just a way to get experience but also built up a body of work and employers do tend to like people who volunteer. So how can I get experience? What are you thinking with volunteering?
1. Teaching: This will depend on your experience and area. In Germany I helped Youth Club staff build good web sites. Here in Juneau I did a seminar for local businesses. Here at Killersites I have learned things or made “mental connections” as I have tried to teach or help many of you with your issues. Often when helping others you realize other ways of doing things that you never considered before, you learn things answering other’s questions. Maybe teach a local high school computer club good web design.
2. Free web work: Like many others I did web work for some non-profit sites. I did the work for free, so they got a cheap web site and I had a web site to show besides my own and a professional reference for my application. Look around at charities, churches, and other non-profit entities online or your area.
3. Volunteering: Naturally any place you volunteer will aid you. I will stick with IT work here though. Even if it is not web design, you have more computer experience than most average folks to you can be of great help just doing basic IT stuff. You will also learn new skills and experience other IT areas you like more. I started in web design, then went to programming and am now my divisions cyber security person. So, do not fear volunteering for “other” IT work.
A. Red Cross/Crescent – The Red Cross works differently is different countries, so I can only speak to the American Red Cross (ARC), but my guess is that the Canadian Red Cross, Deutsches Rotes Kreuz e.V., etc. will have the same needs, just other terms.
i. Disaster Services Technology (DST): The ARC is going digital more each year, many of the tools they use are online. Every time ARC volunteers deploy to a disaster, some of the first ones in are DST, and there are never enough DST volunteers. So, as long as volunteers are in the field at disasters, so are their technical support.
Computers: There is a sub-team that handles passing out, setting up, managing and maintaining and collecting computers. Also support for the apps used.
Networking: A sub-team that specifically deals with networking, connectivity, and Servers. Big disasters like this fall will have field servers deployed, many communications may be down, so we set up satellite internet connections. We use wired and WiFi connections, routers, switches and set up printers.
Communications: This sub-team passes out and supports smart phones, tablets, handheld and mobile radios, radio base stations, antennas etc.
Customer support: This is basically the help desk folks who help the users.
[NOTE: these are the four official jobs in DST, but the disaster decides the actual build. You may find yourself doing multiple jobs if the disaster is not as big or there are not enough volunteers. DST from hurricane Harvey is still in the field from all over the country, and it is usually a two week deployment, so they constantly need people, so there may not be enough. I am the only DST member for all of SE Alaska]
ii. IT End User Services (IT EUS) – Another ARC group to consider for those times between disasters. This is really just the IT shop for the ARC broken into regions. I am currently going through the process. As an EUS volunteer I will be dealing with maintenance and troubleshooting of ARC computers in my area, helping other volunteer and staff with their computer problems, running updates etc. Again, I am the only EUS person for SE Alaska, the nearest are almost 6 miles away in Anchorage.
iii. There are many other volunteer jobs for logistics, shelter workers etc. with any of the Red Cross/Crescents as well both day to day and disaster situations.
B. CyberPatriot – CyberPatriot is a national youth cyber education program run each year by the Air Force Association (AFA) and partners. The AFA sees the lack of cyber security trained people on the US workforce to be a National Security Issue. They want to get more youth interested in STEM and computer jobs and increase the number of women in the IT sector. You can volunteer as an assistant coach for teams in your area, or you can contact schools or organizations in the area to coach your own teams. This competition is not just for the geeks, it is built for people, teens or coaches with no idea about computers and or cyber security to be able to comete as the whole idea is to get kids not interested in computers to reconsider. It is a two-part program.
i. The education part entails teaching youth to use the internet in a safe manner. They support schools or others running cyber safety summer camps and such activities.
ii. Part two is the CyberPatriot Cyber Defense Competition where teams from across the US (I think Canada too) made up of teenagers, compete nationally for the best score finding vulnerabilities and securing a server system. Teams can be from schools, military organizations like JROTC or Civil Air Patrol Cadets for instance and other groups like boy scouts. They are even pushing for all-female teams.
C. Civil Air Patrol – Quite wide spread down south, CAP is a civilian corporation owned by the US Air Force. Its task is the primary Search & Rescue agency in the US. Primarily for missing aircraft, but also hikers, boaters, etc. They are all volunteers and always need pilots, air crews, ground search personnel and those to run the search. Among other squadron jobs, there is an official job for IT personnel. So, check your local CAP squadrons, volunteer and maybe be their IT shop or if they have Cadets, offer to coach a Cadet CyberPatriot team.
D. National Collegiate Cyber Defense Championship – I have not dealt with this group, but it is a college version of CyberPatriot more or less, just for college students. If you live in a college town this may be another possible point to help out.
This is just a partial list based on what I generally have had experience with. Anyone else have suggestions, even from their own countries, go ahead and add it. Just remember that when you volunteer you help your community and yourself. You can gain much broader experience that can only help you get jobs or pad your university application. Getting into cyber type stuff will give you a deeper grasp of computers and servers and help ensure your future web design customers have secure web sites.