Connecting to an international cause close to home

I was born in Bangladesh. I lived most of my early childhood in Kuwait. I then immigrated to Canada when I was 12 years old.

Our family struggled upon our arrival in Canada as my dad worked to get himself established and give us the opportunity we needed to live comfortably. It was because of those years of hardship that I didn’t get the chance to go back to Bangladesh until just a few years ago as an adult.

During my visit there, I learned that my dad and his family built the first school, Mia Ali School, for girls in the village their family grew up in. The school had grown from Grades 1-6 to having over 1,000 students up to Grade 10. And while the 60-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio was very challenging, it is slowly improving.

When I joined Softchoice, I got to learn a lot about Softchoice Cares and how we as an organization invest in the communities around us. Softchoice Cares’ vision of reaching out to partake in global projects and help underprivileged communities abroad with technology was one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to join Softchoice in the first place. Helping and educating people through technology is one of my biggest passions – and Softchoice Cares truly advocates this message.

When Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, made the commitment to bring over 35,000 Syrian refugees to Canada, I knew it meant many people would soon face challenges associated with a new culture, a new language, upgrading their skills, and searching for jobs as my family once did. The difficulty and the challenges associated with uprooting your entire family from one country and moving to another is something that is very real to me, and I wanted the opportunity to support in any way I can.

Fast forwarding a few months later, Softchoice Cares announced that we were going to have our first ever a company-wide volunteer day. Every employee across North America was free to take the day to volunteer for a cause they cared deeply about.

Image-1I used it as an opportunity to engage with MicroSkills – a multicultural, non-profit, community-based organization committed to assisting the unemployed, and in particular women, racial minorities, youth and immigrants. I pitched them on the idea of holding a networking event where we could help educate new immigrants and refugees about technology and the IT industry. MicroSkills loved the idea and helped us to organize the event.

We generated so much support and excitement that we hosted the event at two locations, with almost 60 volunteers from Softchoice and about 100 attendees coming out. About 25 of the attendees came from an IT background, and another 30 or so came from an operations background.

The feedback we got back from them was extremely positive, with the majority of the feedback being that it was a very unique opportunity to learn more about IT solutions from the very people who work in the field, and to get feedback on resumes, interviewing skills, and utilizing social media tools like LinkedIn in their job searches.

After the event, we learned two attendees got interviews with IT companies. They said the Softchoice-MicroSkills event helped them to better prepare for their interviews. Many of the other attendees have also been looking at our Softchoice Careers page to see if there are positions of interest here at Softchoice they want to apply for.

13628209_878345832271672_229324739_nHere’s another amazing story. The winner of the event’s Lenovo laptop giveaway was a Syrian refugee named Rita. Her family is still in Lebanon and she was one of the few selected to move to Canada five months ago. Rita said that adjusting to life here has been tough, as she spoke very little English, but she has been overwhelmed by the support from the MicroSkills team. She also felt the event was extremely helpful, as it gave her an understanding of what corporate life and culture looks like in Canada, and it was heart-warming to be able to make a positive impact on her life along with the many others in attendance. She also complimented our organization and our community focus, and wished more companies would look to empower their employees to reach out and do things that they feel strongly about.

MicroSkills was also very appreciative and thanked us for choosing them as a partner on Softchoice Cares Day, and for giving back to all their clients in the IT community. We enjoyed the event so much that we are now looking into making this a quarterly event.

I truly feel this is the beginning of something really amazing and special. I am definitely looking forward to growing this partnership and hosting future events with MicroSkills that will only strengthen our relationship, it will help us to better connect and empower people through technology and learning.

If you’d like to get involved, please leave your contact info in the comments section below or visit www.microskills.ca.

About Majed Rahman

Majed Rahman is an HP Presales Architect at Softchoice. He joined the company in early 2015 after seven years in previous consumer and business-to-business sales roles.