I had a chance to register myself for some volunteer work in the United States and during my work I learnt many interesting facts and one was that volunteerism is mandatory for high school students in US. How amazing is that! Young souls working hard for a few hours to bring a smile in someone’s life. It teaches them the value of life, gratitude and empathy. Quite astonishing, but every day, I observe these attributes as I perambulate around the streets and meet new people. I guess we are an embodiment of our values and that is what I am witnessing for the past few months in the Bay Area.

Adding to the fibril of my volunteerism was a day spent at Skyline College San Bruno with my amazing IBM CSC fellows and UWBA team. UWBA, Ernst and Young (EY) and Skyline College joined hands to organize a Career Prep Day at the college for career guidance, resume review and mock interviews. Spark Point at the college site participated at the Career Prep and provided access to CalFresh program to the youth and adults. Spark Point, EY’s multi-faceted volunteers, IBM CSC team and UWBA equity team including myself spoke and counseled youth aged 17 and above on current employment trends, difference between career and job, significance and responsible use of social media, networking, interviewing, resume basics and other pertinent job securing best practices. The team provided critique on resume and conducted mock interviews to prepare aspiring youth for sustainable and progressive career. 

I was gravely impressed how the youth is acquainted about the various career options and pertinently prepared for job market in the United States, even though they are just high school students or just started the freshmen year in college. People in all spheres are aware of utilizing the youth to its potential and thus focuses on preparing youth for career that will prevent them from being entrapped in the economic debacle. The realization of career success for youth is evident in all measures and thus with policy support encourages institutes to promote career counseling, academic guidance, employer engagement, parent involvement and other advisory services so that the graduates have secured future as they step out of the alma-mater.

Pakistan, my home country, with 64% population below the age of 30, needs to transform the ticking bomb into dividend with concerted efforts from all spheres, with or without the policy support. Being the participant and witness of volunteer activities and its outcome in the United States, I can adamantly claim that it requires the whim more than monetary resources and efforts. It is believed and said that “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart” and that is what oscillates around and contributes to the bigger picture. If the world’s leading economy can lend some time and resources in the spirit of volunteerism, then it should not be a problem for us. We need to think and act like a nation to shape the lives of our future generations who are currently clueless and blindly walking down the dark alley. One small step will be a giant leap for our youth and collaborative efforts in the right direction by employers, parents, alumina, financial institutions, entrepreneurs and academic institutes etc. can yield surprising results and the probable start can be Career Prep Day at schools, colleges and universities so that the youth can at least make informed decision regarding their future careers.

You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give. (Winston Churchill)