This story is part of the #UWCommunity National Volunteer week series, profiling University of Waterloo members who give their time and talent by volunteering in our community.
Yanish Jutton loves to help people solve problems.
A current University of Waterloo undergraduate student who recently made the switch from Systems Design Engineering to Knowledge Integration, Yanish has discovered that he’s especially passionate about different forms of learning and leadership, and regularly volunteers his time and knowledge in order to help people and teams grow:
“Volunteering also helps me develop personally because I find out so much more about what I do like and what I don’t like.”
Yanish merges his strong background in user-experience design and his desire to help people with an overarching goal of integrating new kinds of leadership styles and problem solving into the workplace. He is particularly intrigued by the increasing necessity for more concrete collaborative efforts between technological advancement and creative practice, which is why he didn’t hesitate when asked to be a mentor with The Business & Education Partnership (BEP): a local organization dedicated to providing youth the spark needed to ignite better career choices.
BEP leads the way in career exploration for youth in Waterloo Region by connecting students, educators, and employers to promote student success and community prosperity. They host programs for students in grades 7 to 12 that bridge the gap between school and work to help students explore careers, gain meaningful professional connections, and learn valuable job skills. Yanish worked specifically with their Apps4Learning program, coaching a group of high school students from St. David Catholic Secondary School through the various development phases of an app project: brainstorming, story boarding, and the technicalities of the final product.
“One of the biggest reasons why I volunteered for this program was because I wanted to give back to the community somehow. Week by week, seeing them grow, it was really nice.”
Allison Mitchell, Program Director at BEP, sees the value of utilizing exceptional volunteers in our community to further the mandate of her organization:
“The Business & Education Partnership would not be successful without all of the amazing volunteers that we having working with us. Our hundreds of volunteers generously share their time and their expertise so that students learn about different career options, which helps them make more informed decisions about their career paths. We deeply appreciate the passion that our volunteers have for helping the BEP lead the way in career exploration for youth.”
Yanish spent 6 months with this group of students, in the classroom every week, once a week, and saw it as a unique opportunity to share his knowledge and skills around app development and user-experience design with a group he doesn’t often get to connect with on a regular basis.
“Volunteering helps me round myself out a little bit more, because it forces me to hang out with a different crowd than I usually do. High school students do and use things differently, and they’re one of the biggest markets out there for apps, phones, products, and content; being able to be around them helped me get in their heads a little more and honed in my leadership skills.”
Allison Mitchell and the rest of the BEP team is thrilled to have him on board:
“We are so fortunate to have Yanish as one of our volunteers. For an entire semester, Yanish regularly went to the high school class to guide the students through technical challenges that they faced, as well as share his own academic and career paths. Yanish has participated in one of our ZOOM Career Days focused on ICT, where he delivered a hands-on workshop for high school students. He is also part of our Speakers Bureau and has shared his career path with students in grades 7 & 8.”
This experience helped Yanish expand his network, as he now has contacts at BEP and our local school boards. It showed him what other people value and why, and how volunteering and giving back to our community can lead to gaining those further insights. Yanish also spends his spare time having fun volunteering at special events for Communitech, like the Tech Leadership Conference, Techoberfest, and Fluxible. He aspires to be on the board of directors for a nonprofit organization one day.
“It was so rewarding seeing them go from point A to point Z with the app. And they were really happy about it too. They had learned things and I could definitely see how much they grew. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”