Information technology (IT) is helping India rapidly evolve into a major player on the world stage. It’s impacting and even driving every industry including farming, transportation, communications and business in general.
To help meet the need for trained IT professionals, engineering colleges have sprung up virtually overnight. In 2006, there were an impressive 1,511 such schools in India. As of 2015 there were almost 3,500. Andhra Pradesh alone has more than 700 such schools.
Cumulatively, these institutions graduate 1.5 million freshers annually, a great many of them with degrees in computer science and related IT fields. Unfortunately, with that many eager young freshers hitting the market, competition for jobs is severe. Estimates of freshers who fail to obtain employment in engineering related fields range between 20 and 33 percent.
Many who fail to land a job in their respective IT domain often end up joining call centers or BPO units within multi-national corporations. Sadly, even if you are fortunate enough to land an IT positon, your entry-level salary will likely be tragically modest.
Obviously, freshers need every advantage they can get when searching for their first job. A solid resume, preferably one with experience directly related to their job search, is an asset. The good news is that there is a simple way to get such experience — volunteering for an organization that could use some free IT assistance. There are millions of non-profit organizations currently operating in India and, like non-profits around the world, they like volunteers, especially skilled-volunteers.
There are any number of reasons why an individual might want to volunteer. It’s always good to help others. But, in this case, we will focus on your goal — gaining some valuable experience to include on your resume. The last thing you want to do is spend your time doing something completely unrelated to your goal.
When you approach the organization, make sure they are aware of your IT skills and how you might be able to be of use. You can do this on a basic application or in an email. You might also consider doing a bit of research and chatting up any IT professional already working for the organization. Ask about their IT challenges and any plans to resolve them. Every organization wants to do more with less and they all have a wish-list of things they need or want to do.
You also want to make sure your skill-set matches their needs. Again, find out what they need or want to accomplish. According to a recent blog post by the IT certification training company CBT Nuggets, there are three IT skills that will really help you be a valuable volunteer:
WiFi and Lan setup
Nonprofits are usually operating on a very tight budget, and this includes their internet service. Every organization can benefit from an increased broadband, especially if they have cell-phone usage, which everyone does these days.
A little networking knowledge is a real plus when it comes time to boost broadband. WiFi by its nature is less reliable and has a lower signal strength than a signal that travels over a physical medium like a wire. Setting up a basic WiFi connection and LAN is a fairly simple task for one who has a bit of training.
Explaining that you understand wireless standards, configurations and possess the necessary cybersecurity skills to protect a network is guaranteed to make any manager of a nonprofit sit up and pay attention.
Again, monetary constraints mean that non-profits are unlikely to be using high-end expensive machines. And the equipment they do have will constantly need to be maintained, de-bugged and, in many instances, need components replaced.
Most PC users have no idea how their machines run and how to repair them. Truthfully, they really don’t care to know, and just want them to work correctly. Showing that you have the skills to repair and maintain PCs, and that doing so will save the organization money is certain to open doors for you.
Another great idea is to knock on their door with one or more PCs that you’ve refurbished yourself. Everyone likes to get free stuff — especially free PCs.
Every organization needs a web-site that is user-friendly and attractive to their customer base. This is where you can really shine by offering your programming skills to update, or even set up web-sites for the organization. Explaining how a proper web-site can enable them to offer services to more people for less is a great selling-point. They will also need to maintain their site, something you can readily do, or even train one of the regular staff to do.
You can also offer to teach basic programming to staff and customers. This works great when volunteering for a school because many schools lack the money and personnel to offer any sort of basic programing class. They will certainly appreciate you providing an opportunity to their students to learn some programming basics, an opportunity most won’t have until they attend college.
Thriving in the job market is never going to be easy. It always has, and always will require initiative, knowledge and a desire to succeed. There is no reason you can’t start exhibiting those traits while in school. Lift your head out of your books and find a non-profit that can benefit from your IT knowledge.
You will be doing them a favor by helping them accomplish their mission. Along the way, you will gain real-world experience that looks great on a resume. And who knows, you might even find yourself being offered a paid position to keep all that great IT stuff functioning.