Saarah’s volunteer story: personal growth and development

Saarah's photo
Saarah's photo

Saarah has learned to be more open-minded, empathetic and developed her professional skills at CYF

From KPIs to passion

Saarah learned about CYF through her employer, Ernst & Young. As part of her individual KPIs and corporate social responsibility, she joined a volunteering initiative at Ernst & Young. She joined as a coding volunteer, but soon found her passion in personal development and became a PD volunteer.

Reflecting on her own challenges to inspire others

Saarah’s own challenges inspired her to help trainees overcome their insecurities. She grew up with a speech impairment, a stutter.

“With help and support from my family, friends and teachers, I was able to overcome it which improved my confidence and taught me courage and most importantly, how to take risks. Personally, if I had not taken the risks I did despite my insecurity about my stutter, I know I would not have overcome it and be where I am today.”, she said.

She completed her BCom degree in 2020 with a double major in Information Systems. In 2021, she completed her Management and her BCom Honours in Information Systems. Saarah’s goal as a PD volunteer was to share her knowledge and help the CYF trainees in any way she could.

What is Personal Development at CodeYourFuture?

A Personal or Professional Development volunteer facilitates workshops on Saturday focusing on professional skills development. Other activities include providing support to trainees through “buddying”, providing individual support to sharpen professional skills development and providing any extra personal support. Another role in this area is to include provide career mentoring to graduates

How Saarah experienced her own personal development

Saarah’s time with CYF has been a personal development journey, too; she says, “I’ve learned to be more open-minded and empathetic. I’ve also developed my presentation skills, which I struggled with due to my stutter growing up” she says.

“I became more confident and started doing full presentations by myself, and even preparing the content as well. I now love presenting to the CYF trainees”

Saarah’s mindset changed as a volunteer at CYF 

“My mindset is definitely wider and more open. Spending time listening to the perspectives, struggles, wins, and losses of people from so many different places and backgrounds truly had a massive impact on me. It taught me true understanding and empathy and showed me how unique each trainee is and also showed me where their strengths lie and the amazing characteristics they each bring to the CYF community and also how they change all of us as volunteers, not just myself.”, Saarah says.

Group photo after a CYF class

The CYF cohorts thrive on the support from volunteers

The CYF community has been a source of support, and she has received guidance from more experienced volunteers.

Advice for if you’re considering volunteering:

“It’s definitely not easy, but there’s a community of support to lean on and relationships that will last a lifetime.”

Saarah encourages others to volunteer with CYF, “CYF is a part of my week that I look forward to,” she says. “I now feel passionately about the work we do at CYF because it truly can change lives for the better, and my only goal is to contribute as much as possible and help in building and growing our community..”

If you’re interested in becoming a PD volunteer (or any other volunteer at CYF), you can find out more an apply here.