This post is part of a series that highlights Microsoft employees in Asia Pacific who are providing their expertise and time to NGO organisations, creating a positive impact in their local community and inspiring others along the way.
“I’ve been taught that a privileged life should be lived in service to others,” said Katrina Turner, Technical Account Manager at Microsoft, based in Sydney, Australia. “Also, that I should always take stock of the resources I have, and share them.”
Sharing her skills is what Katrina does best, and she is always happy to devote time to volunteering. As an example, Katrina spends about two hours every other month coaching high school students on communications and career skills. She regularly participates in an eight-week primary school literacy programme, during which she spends 45 minutes every week helping to teach young children to read. Katrina is also offering remote career mentoring to an Egyptian undergraduate.
To Katrina, the mental and emotional support rendered from mentoring is important “for youth from underprivileged socio-economic backgrounds, women whose focus on the family might diminish their external or professional relationships and new migrants who have to start afresh”.
“From my own experience, it really does not take up a lot of time to get involved as a volunteer. More importantly, I believe the personal satisfaction and sense of purpose I've gained from being able to support someone in need far outweighs the number of hours devoted to volunteering,” she added.
Initially, Katrina set out to work with young people in high school or university—stages at which they are confronting major life decisions. Then she learned that interventions at an early age are just as important.
This gave Katrina the impetus to organise a robotics workshop for young girls, to demonstrate the learning and play possibilities for them. “Many had never built a robot before. It was fantastic seeing their reactions as they watched the robots dance or dash through obstacles as per their programming instructions.”
Katrina relishes the opportunity to use her personal experiences to readily connect with young people
Organising activities for Tech Girls Movement and Robogals, gives Katrina a chance to work with organizations that focus on increasing the representation of women in STEM careers and provide greater access to positive role models.
Cognizant that learning is a two-way street, Katrina said, “Working with many of the beneficiaries has been a real lesson in how we lack absolute control over our life circumstances. Viewing life through multiple social and cultural lenses has helped me to interpret the world in a more nuanced, and richer, manner.”