Frontiers’ volunteers: Top-techie Amrita Das on her volunteering throughout 2020

In the last of the Frontiers’ volunteers blogs this year, we speak to senior software engineer Amrita Das about the incredible amount of time she has dedicated to volunteering since joining Frontiers in early 2020 and the fantastic example she has set.

Amrita Das playing her part in helping farmers in Switzerland’s mountain region tend their land

What is your role at Frontiers?

I have been part of Frontiers family for eight months and work in the Software Development and Delivery (SDD) team as a Senior Software Engineer. I lead one of the offshore development teams in implementing technical and functional improvements to the Frontiers website and the integration of third-party products. I work closely with the product management, business analysis, testing and software development teams on the implementation approach for any feature requests, and during the introduction of new technologies. The coordination and interaction with various offshore teams from India, and the development teams in Lausanne and Madrid, makes my work both fun and dynamic. 

What is your background and interests?

I am of Indian origin, born and brought up in Bhubaneswar, India. After graduating in engineering, I worked as a techie in various service and product-based companies back in India. My interest in software architecture and project management brought me to Germany to pursue my Master studies. After working for a few years back in Germany, I moved to Lausanne, Switzerland to join Frontiers. I have an extensive industrial IT experience in many domains, programming languages and technologies across India, Germany, and Switzerland. Apart from coding, I like to explore different places, their food, music, and culture. Dancing liberates me and I love to perform. I am trained in one of the Indian classical dances, called Odissi. I also like to contribute to society through my skills by teaching and organizing fundraiser events. 

How did you get involved in volunteering?

I volunteer through Alaya, the digital platform for employee social engagement based in Lausanne, Switzerland that we use here at Frontiers. It allows thousands of individuals, brands, and companies to do their part, taking part in social and environmental challenges, while building a positive culture at work. Their ideology is to change the world one good act at a time. There are multiple options on this platform to support noble causes. There are donations, field volunteering, skill-based volunteering and goods collections, for example.

Why did you decide to take part?

I learned about Alaya and the opportunities it offers through Frontiers’ volunteering program and I immediately connected to their ideology. The platform gave me the opportunity to learn about multiple causes and join in. From a young age, I have always taken part in volunteering activities as I believe education can empower people to do better both for themselves and others.  I always want to contribute to society through my skills by teaching and organizing fundraiser events, and the Alaya platform and their coordinators helped me to connect to numerous volunteering activities. There are many field activities which we can create and join with our colleagues which makes the volunteering process more fun and engaging.

Out of all the possible activities on this digital platform, I connected to skill-based volunteering and field-volunteering. As I am new to Switzerland, I like to meet local people and learn about the culture, which I can explore through the field volunteering. Given the Covid-19 situation, I organized virtual wellness workshops in Alaya platform with my colleagues across the world to learn some dance moves. It was a successful session where we all utilized our home space and did some physical workout. After lockdown when we could resume field volunteering, I volunteered with the local farmer in the mountain region of Nyon which was an incredible experience for me to get to know about swiss farming culture. I also volunteered some evenings at la soupe populaire to distribute free food to people in need. 

How were you able to draw on your professional experience?

I always have an urge to share my time and skills when it comes to volunteering. As a techie, I found multiple relevant volunteering opportunities through Alaya:

  • I collaborated with SINGA Mentoring Program to be a mentor for a refugee entrepreneur, using my technical skills and experience to guide my mentees in their entrepreneur projects.
  • I have worked with AFP to redesign their website and proposed multiple ideas for their digital marketing platform.
  • I am also collaborating with Powercoders, which empowers migrants and refugees by training them in IT. I am going to take technical workshop to train the aspiring participants to help them find employment.

What did you learn or take-away from the experience?

I learned a lot throughout the process and thankful to my organization, Frontiers, for providing the opportunity. Coming from a background where I understand and value of being privileged, I always think it is my responsibility to give back to the society in any form. When it comes to helping other, I feel better be personally involved, be it monetary, your time or skill. And Alaya seems to be the best platform for me to explore all such volunteering possibilities. I got to meet so many wonderful people through my participation, and many of them are my friends now. As a new joiner, I could still interact with my colleagues during this phase of the remote work environment. I am looking forward to being associated with many fundraiser, field and skill sharing events through Alaya, and supporting people while having a holistic wellbeing experience.