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Tech Talent 4 Good: Bringing IT Student Power to NGOs
By: Jasmer Dhingra, Global Partnerships Manager, AIESEC International
08 July 2011

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It’s all about inspiring breakthroughs!

The objective of the Microsoft-AIESEC Tech Talent 4 Good project was to raise awareness amongst young IT students and recent graduates about the opportunities available in the non-corporate sector to implement ICT solutions that create a real and sustainable impact to support the noble mission of many NGOs. Today, non-profit organizations need to be as cost-effective as possible. For this reason, they are increasingly turning to technology to improve productivity, collaboration and reduce costs and focus resources on their core mission. The idea behind the Tech Talent 4 Good programme was to bridge the gap between the technology to be applied and the talent required to apply it in order to achieve an optimal impact. As the project manager from AIESEC, the student outreach partner of Microsoft for TT4G, I feel really fortunate to have seen the inception of the idea right up to the stage it is at today.

The initiative is about giving young people the opportunity to be mobile, to cross borders and develop professional experience in new and inspiring contexts which is in fact a great example of concrete progress under the umbrella campaign ‘Youth on the Move’ set-up by the European Commission.

The challenge for AIESEC lay in the fact that we had to both learn and master many activities simultaneously throughout this entire project. The idea was to attract young technical talent in Europe whilst at the same time exposing them to the opportunity of the non-corporate sector! This initiative engaged perhaps the largest number of stakeholders in any single, centrally coordinated project – NGOs, Microsoft departments, AIESEC national and local offices, and young students. At the same time we had to master the mechanics of the project, streamline communications and processes to provide not just an opportunity but a valuable experience to every stakeholder engaged.

After more than three months of meticulous planning, we launched TT4G in November – creating a buzz in the European AIESEC network. However, the news of TT4G itself could not be contained within Europe alone and I continued to receive countless queries, proposals and requests from countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to extend its scope. As AIESEC International- continually promoted the initiative throughout Europe – however, it was truly rewarding for us to see certain country chapters empowered to approach IT universities using Tech Talent 4 Good as their golden opportunity to offer students the platform to grow personally and professionally working with the most noble of causes and amongst the stalwarts in the NGO sector.

Applications rolled in from countries as far and diverse as Greece, Slovakia, Poland, Spain, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Portugal, Ukraine and Russia. It was inspiring to read and hear from them about their motivation to use their IT skill and knowledge to work with a cause, welcoming the space to continue learning and applying technology to enhance and develop cost effective solutions to real time problems. The goal was not only to select the best students, but create a team of interns who would be the pioneers driving the project and sharing their stories in the future in order to create many more.

The selection of the ten Tech Talent 4 Good interns was the next big milestone for us – inducting 10 students into a global, diverse AIESEC network as well as a smaller, closer TT4G network of NGOs and Microsoft was a learning experience for me. In less than a month, the interns were introduced to AIESEC and connected to the members and office in their origin and destination locations – supported not only logistically, but prepared culturally for a new experience.
My vision for the project in the future became panoramic as I got the opportunity to finally meet the ten interns whose applications I had so carefully recommended and the NGO partners, who shared their stories and missions in an open and frank environment. Most importantly, I could sense their willingness to create their own stories of Social Impact and Change.

I believe that the positive environment, ambition, common vision and cheerful celebration of all our small successes along the way were crucial in achieving the synergy between Microsoft and AIESEC. I am also excited by what lies ahead for our interns and AIESEC chapters – the prospect of sharing many more stories and experiences with young people in order to scale this programme further.

I would like to thank Microsoft Community Affairs in EMEA, Microsoft Network, AIESEC International, AIESEC Europe, NGO partners and all the Tech Talent 4 Good interns for turning a simple idea into an impactful initiative.

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