Michelle Sandford, Community Engagement PMM for emerging Developers at Microsoft, shares why she does the #Code4Good thing, and awesome ways you can use your tech skills to make the world a better place, too.
I focus on supporting enablement, diversity, and inclusion initiatives. I like to teach people to code (usually women or children), because I want to bring a more even mix of people into the tech industry, and the best way to do that is to get involved and show them how much fun it is. I love giving my time to do this for my community because I am also learning while teaching. People ask me questions that I’ve never considered, and it makes me stop and think more deeply about what I do and how. That helps me grow, while I am enabling others to grow. But it isn’t just about me and how much I enjoy these experiences. I think each of us has a duty to give something back, to enable the next generation to do more and be more than we ever were.
People often ask me how I choose what opportunities to get involved in. I say “It’s easy, think about what you care about, what excites you, what drives you, and align all your focus on those things.” But of course, it’s not always easy, especially if you have no idea about what opportunities are out there, what you can do, what you like doing, and what you stand for. You must try all the things. So, if you have time, say yes. Do the Thing (as Dona Sarkar says). After a while you will discover some of the things that inspire you and make you happy.
So here are a few #Code4Good opportunities to consider:
Code for good in a GiveCamp. Learn how the idea for GiveCamp came to life, how they use tech to help non-profits, and how you can get involved in this video.
Volunteer as a mentor team member or event tech mentor at hackathons such as GovHack - a festival of ideas. Look at innovation or student hubs for details on local hackathons. Microsoft’s Global Hackathon which comes out via The Microsoft Garage each year is a great way to get involved and there are many teams to choose from, often accepting external team members. Participate in Microsoft AI for Good Projects.
If you like to code, get involved in the Open Source Community There are so many valuable projects than run entirely on the time and good will of volunteers and you can contribute time, code, or money to help out.
Find in-kind dev opportunities through Catchafire or VolunteerMatch, you can search their opportunities on LinkedIn. You can also search “Volunteer Developer” in a LinkedIn job search.
Hit the forums and help fellow community members solve tech issues in your area of expertise.
Give an inspiring or educational talk at meetups and conferences. Many encourage first time speakers and will actively support you with mentorship from an experienced speaker. You can submit proposals to speak at conferences by responding to a CFP (Call for Papers/Programs), which can be found on sites such as: CFP Land, Tech Daily CFP, PaperCall, Confs.tech, SeeCFP, and CallingAllPapers.
I recently participated in a session at Microsoft Ignite that talked about how you can make an impact through contribution to community. Check out the replay.
Do you have favorite avenues to contribute to dev and broader communities? Please share #Code4Good opportunities you’ve been involved with in the blog comments section below!
Michelle Sandford, Community Engagement PMM for emerging Developers at Microsoft, is a Tedx Speaker, Australian Computer Society WA Chairman, and was previously named one of MCV's 30 Most Influential Women in Games. She lives at the heart of the developer community and helps drive awareness and engagement as an AI influencer and chatbot builder. She is an advocate for STEM, the Games Industry, and Developers. For daily updates from Michelle follow @codess_aus on Twitter and Instagram, or follow her on LinkedIn.