Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: charity

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian technology contractors relating to charity.

Independent Contractors Need to Volunteer

Here’s Why IT Professionals Need to Volunteer in the Gig Economy

Here's Why All Independent Contractors Need to Consider Volunteer WorkGiving back to the community is an activity that every citizen should do, at whatever capacity they can. In some cases that involves donating money, but it should also include donating your time. In addition to the core functions of local community groups and charities, independent contractors and freelancers are sometimes asked to volunteer their own professional services. Regardless of what kind of work you do, just a few hours of free work can go a long way in helping a charity or non-profit organization get closer to accomplishing their goals. In addition, there are countless benefits and rewards that can come to you, both personally and professionally.

What Do You Gain from Volunteering?

As selfish as it may feel, every volunteer gets personal gain from putting time into their community, whether or not they recognize it. For example:

  • Being involved and doing the right thing brings personal satisfaction.
  • Building a better community not only is great for your family but can raise the value of a home.
  • It’s an opportunity to meet the “who’s who” in your area, including business owners and politicians.
  • It brings new challenges when you feel life is getting dull.
  • The change in routine helps to get away from regular life stresses and recharge your batteries.
  • You can make new friends and improve your social life.
  • It provides an overall perspective on what you have in life, which can make you happier.

How Does Volunteering Help Your Business?

Beyond the personal benefits of volunteering is the professional value that can also come with it. Independent contractors can gain significant traction for their business, by simply finding a cause they love and putting in a few extra hours.

  • Networking: Industry events get bland and you start to only see the same people. Volunteering opens you up to a whole new set of professionals from different backgrounds and industries.
  • References: Speaking of the people you meet, some of them will make valuable character references and, in some circumstances, can speak to your technical skills as well.
  • Maintain Unused Skills: You know that old technology that you barely use anymore because all of your clients have moved on? A charity or non-profit may still be using it. When you volunteer to help with that piece, you keep yourself fresh in case it ever comes up again with clients.
  • Work on New Skills Too: The organization where you give time may also be using a tool you haven’t yet tried or one for which you need to build experience before you can sell it. This provides a win-win scenario for both of you!
  • Explore Something New: Perhaps you’ve been considering a career change or thinking of changing industries all together. Volunteering is a simple way to test the waters while helping others at the same time.

From helping the less fortunate to caring for animals, everybody can find an organization that speaks to them. As an added bonus to contributions you make in your community, you will improve your life, both personally and professionally. If you’re not volunteering yet, what are you waiting for?

Don’t Dump It – Donate It!

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

I have been working in the technology industry for over 2 decades and have had the pleasure of working for companies who regularly refresh the technology they use internally.  For people who are surrounded by technology, you tend to take for granted the access you have to technology, both at work and in your home life.  One also makes the assumption that living in Canada, everyone has access to some sort of computer at school, at home or at work.  This assumption was quashed recently for me.

Don't Dump It - Donate It! Eagle recently went through a technology refresh and we had a number of gently used computers and peripherals up for grabs.  We asked around our office if anyone was interested, and some were taken but a number were left unclaimed. The computers were earmarked for the “technology dump/reseller” market when I made a last ditch effort to find homes for them.  I called around to a number of schools in Toronto to see if any of them could use extra computers.  Much to my surprise, I had immediate takers for the 4 computers we had.   I spoke with a very excited school Principal who said she had a great home for the computers: 2 for her school library and 2 for families who did not have access to a computer at home.

I had the great pleasure of dropping off the computers at the school and was greeted by some of the future users.  They were all excited to see they would have 2 more computers in their library and that 2 of their friends would now have computers at home.

Several organizations have computer refresh programs and many corporations do not donate their used computers, but send them off to companies who strip them down. By simply formatting the hard drive, you can ensure safety of your data and these computers can be donated to organizations or schools in need.

I’m pleased that we were able to find such a good home for these computers, and encourage others to explore these options before having their computers end up in a landfill.

2016 MASC Young Authors’ and Illustrators’ Conference

Eagle has been the presenting sponsor of the MASC Young Authors’ and Illustrators’ Conference in Ottawa for 15 years now. In that time, thousands of students from grades 4 to 8 have had the opportunity to learn from, and be inspired by, renowned authors and illustrators. If you have kids who may be interested, have a look at this video and sign-up today. Registration closes February 1st, 2016.

Keeping the End Goal in Mind… One Step at a Time

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

Keeping the End Goal in Mind... One Step at a TimeIt is less than two weeks until I leave for my Kilimanjaro trek.  I posted in July about pushing one’s limits and thinking outside of what you would normally do, and being surprised at what can be accomplished.  I have been training for 9 months for the trek and have been busily preparing myself physically, mentally, and emotional for the adventure.  There has been a lot of planning and prep work and the greatest challenge still awaits me.

When thinking about the trek, and all the prep work, it gets overwhelming and easy to lose sight of the end goal.  You can get buried in all the details which start to seem daunting but what has kept me going is the end goal — to reach the summit safely and to raise funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

You don’t have to climb a mountain to apply this advice. When working on any intense project plan, the keys to the end success are identical:

  • Be well prepared and set goals. You don’t need to spend 9 months of intense training for your IT project, but you do need to be prepared with a detailed plan. My team has a complete itinerary detailing our climbing plan, including goals for each day and how long it should take to achieve them. Setting these milestones helps ensure success and keeps us from getting overwhelmed by the overall project.
  • Surround yourself with a great team. I’ve been training with an amazing group of people. We’re always encouraging each other in training, and I know that during our climb, we’ll continue to help each other up so we all reach the summit together. On top of this team, we’ll have an experienced leader we can trust to help us through the challenges and guide us up the mountain.
  • Keep climbing. Like every project you work on, as the trek gets tough, the only way to succeed will be to continue moving forward. A positive attitude, the support from that team, and determination to work through adversity will be crucial for me to reach the summit, and are critical elements to work through any complex project.
  • Keep the end goal in mind. Do you know the end goals of your project? Of course it has to be on time and on budget, but what else do you want to accomplish? As I said, my end goal is obviously to reach the summit, but I also want to get there safely and raise funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Identifying your intrinsic motivations that mean the most to you will help push through those times you think about slacking or giving up completely.
  • Celebrate your successes. After 7 days of grueling work, including a final 12-15 hour climb that starts at midnight, my team will be greeted at Millennium Camp with a nice beverage. In the following days, we’ll get the opportunity for more celebration, well-deserved spa time and a chance to explore the sights the region has to offer. How do you and your project team celebrate victories? Exploring Africa may be excessive, but dinner and drinks are a great way to wind down, focus on all of your accomplishments, and guarantee that you end on a positive note.

Every project, from climbing a mountain to developing software, will face set-backs. The key is to focus on the end goal and reach the summit one step at a time. That’s the strategy my team and I developed, and I invite you to use the same steps on all of your projects.

Please visit my page to support my trek and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Pushing Yourself Beyond Your Boundaries!

Frances McCart By Frances McCart,
Vice-President, Business Development at Eagle

Learning to answer the knock at the door

Pushing Yourself Beyond Your Boundaries!  (and learning to answer the knock at the door)

An amazing opportunity came knocking on the door late last October.  One of my friends asked me if I would be interested in hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro with her along with a group of others people I knew.  My first response was “Are you crazy?!”  I quickly came up with a list of reasons why I could not take on this challenge: I was no hiker (I didn’t even own any sort of hiking footwear, let alone knew where to find my current pair of running shoes), I didn’t have the time to train for such a huge physical undertaking, I am not in love with sleeping in tents and would have to do this for 8 days in a row, I really like to shower (personal hygiene is low on the priority on Mt. Kili), I would be away for my family and work for at least 2 weeks … the list went on and on.  When I started speaking to people about this opportunity, not one person in my inner circle discourage me from passing this up.  Everyone was extremely supportive telling me over and over again “Yeah! You can do this!!”  It will take a lot of prep work but it is worth both the challenge and the reward (personally and being able to raise money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation).

So, I really listened to what my friends had to say, and it came down to realizing that there was no reason why I could not do this more than anyone else.

It is fantastic and humbling to be supported by family, friends and colleagues in this challenge.  It is even more amazing to be able to push one’s self beyond the normal comfort zone and in doing so, also being able to raise funds for a cause near and dear to my heart (win-win!).

What I have already learned from this experience is to always answer the door when opportunity knocks, even if it is something that at first might not seem to be of interest.  Many people see themselves in a certain way and often get stuck thinking they know who they are.  These people never end up pushing their boundaries and considering new opportunities.  So whether at work or in your personal life, listen carefully to that knock at the door. You may surprise yourself with a great new adventure.

Here’s a little more about my upcoming quest:

Climbing Team to Mount Kilimanjaro

In October this year, I will have the good fortune to be climbing alongside a team of 15 incredible people who are raising funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.  I will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with 4 amazing women friends – Paula, Monique, Rachel and Laurie, of which both Paula and Laurie are breast cancer survivors.  This climb is in honour of all those women I have known – family and friends – who have had to deal with this horrible disease.

The climb will be one of the most mentally, physically, and emotionally challenging experiences I will ever encounter but it will be nothing compared to what friends and families go through when a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The climb will take 6.5 days to reach the top (19,340 feet, or 11 CN Towers high!), trekking for 6-12 hours each day.  Then 1.5 days to get down the mountain.  We have been training hard with weekly hikes (I started last January and was out hiking in -25 weather), long walks during the week and personal training sessions to get us ready for this exciting challenge!!

Please visit my sponsorship page for more information about the journey and to help support this great cause.