Interview with a Volunteer

An interview with one of our volunteer's

What experience do you have working with technology and as a woman in tech?

I wouldn’t call myself a ‘woman in tech’! I’m the same age as most of the people who phone us, and have a basic knowledge of I.T. I would have been the trouble-shooter in the office, I suppose, as I started using home PCs in the mid-1990s. My first computer was a freebie from a bank that closed and had DOS with huge floppy disks. Windows 95 was my first practical PC, with a telephone modem for Internet connection via landline. That’s when we all had an @eircom.net email address. I signed up to help because I do some training, mainly with drivers, but I’ve also delivered courses in ‘I.T. for beginners’, who were all in the older age group. It’s slow-going, but it’s great to see them become interested in Internet and email and staying in touch.

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What do you do as a Generation Tech Volunteer?

If the Generation Tech callers have any technical issues with hardware, I do my best to help by searching for, or asking other volunteers for, solutions and working through them with the callers. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t, and I hand the case over to someone else. It’s very satisfying when I am able to help, though I often feel like something of a fraud here :). It’s nice to volunteer; I was involved in several voluntary groups over the past 25 years, and I eased out of them all as I approached my retirement in November 2018. And I’m learning more as I go along, because I sometimes need to research issues and get help from the other volunteers, so it’s a win-win situation for me! I’ll keep volunteering while I’m needed, and hope I’ll continue to be of some use.

When did you start volunteering with Generation Tech?

I started in May last year, during the first lockdown, and took time out from late July to early September to run our B&B, and again for a few weeks in late November/early December for my daughter’s wedding.

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What issues do you find come up regularly on calls?

I noticed that a lot of my calls involve people not having passwords to accounts associated with their devices, often because someone else set up their email accounts and devices but didn’t ensure that they left these details somewhere safe for their older relatives or friends. These calls often took a lot of time, and with many there was more guidance needed, which is where my experience in training beginners helped. I’ve had a few callers who were delighted to gain some extra IT skills along the way to solving their immediate problem. It’s important to be very patient, and tailor your help to their abilities. Some of them ring back occasionally with different issues and ask for me, which is nice.