buildOn Alum Recommends Volunteering as Critical Skill for Job Readiness
buildOn allowed me to have more empathy for others . . . it allowed me to put others first and think of our community.Kimberly Var
On June 26, 2012, we broke ground on the Swaswa school.
Kimberly Var, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Recruiter at Red Hat, was one of the students who participated in 2012’s Chitota, Malawi Trek. Ten years later, she reflects on the impact buildOn has had on her professional career.
Kimberly Var shared, “I have such great memories of everything, from the sweet taste of fresh sugar cane to songs the villagers would sing. From the moment I arrived, I felt so welcomed into the community!”
buildOn: How has buildOn impacted your professional career?
Kimberly Var: buildOn allowed me to have more empathy for others. Being able to take part in cleaning our neighborhoods, raising money for homeless shelters, or just meeting people from all over the city — it allowed me to put others first and think of our community. In my current job, I’m a recruiter and empathy is a crucial part of it. Soft skills are important and it’s what brings us together in a team. Whether I interact with clients, customers, and in this case candidates, it allows me to develop more patience overtime, critical listening skills, and really understanding what the person needs and how I can help them.
By doing volunteer work, it allows you to be in touch with your community. You also gain social, leadership and organizational skills. Those skills are really important as you are developing in high school, and those things transfer later in life when you are in college or a working professional.Kimberly Var
buildOn: Why is it important for Red Hat staff (or any organization) to support buildOn?
Kimberly Var: Being a buildOn alumni, I think it’s important for companies to align their goals and values with nonprofits like buildOn. buildOn is ranked pretty high in Charity Navigator with 85% of it going to the programs, and they’re 100% transparent with their finances. And they have really been committed to breaking the illiteracy and poverty cycle over 30 years… I think if a company wants to develop partnerships or give back to the community, they should really partner with buildOn or nonprofits similar to it because you can really make a difference in your local neighborhood, but also even on an international level.
buildOn: Any advice you wish to share with young students?
Kimberly Var: I recommend all students to volunteer and take part in their community. (Whether) donating money for charity, help with local park clean ups, or raising money for anything that you are passionate about, it makes a difference. If you don’t have a program at your school, start a program! . . . By doing volunteer work, it allows you to be in touch with your community. You also gain social, leadership and organizational skills. Those skills are really important as you are developing in high school, and those things transfer later in life when you are in college or a working professional. It starts when you are in high school. Volunteer, get involved, and naturally you’ll be able to gain more confidence as well.
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Prior to the Swaswa school being completed, the nearest school was eight kilometers away and students had to cross a river, without a bridge, to get there. Since first breaking ground in Malawi in 1993, we are nearing the completion of our 442nd school meaning over 65,370 students have access to quality education.