There are many reasons people choose to spend their time at Free Geek. Absolutely no previous experience is required for new volunteers — everyone is welcome. Volunteering in our Recycling, Test or Build areas can be a rich opportunity for hands-on education which is in line with Free Geek’s mission of countering the digital divide. It’s also simply a chance to have a lot of fun and hang out with great people!
Some people simply enjoy hanging out in our Recycling area, learning to separate our recyclable donations into their components. Many find the process of taking apart electronics relaxing or interesting and will recycle for hours at a time.
Some come in to volunteer in exchange for credit in our Thrift Store. All volunteers who log at least 24 hours are given a $40 voucher for use in the store. This is enough to cover the full cost of a basic laptop, or a desktop, monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers with change to spare. It can also be applied to all sorts of other equipment including but not limited to cables, audio equipment, computer peripherals, expansion cards, and gaming hardware. We also have a number of high-end machines for sale, and the voucher can always be applied toward a larger purchase. Most of our machines are PCs running the Ubuntu Linux operating system and come loaded with a variety of Free and Open Source Software. Visit our Store page for details about our inventory.
Some come in looking for work-related skills and job experience. Since Free Geek does not require any level of experience from new volunteers, it can be a great way to acquire a new set of skills. [You’ll work with basic hardware components, PXE booting, and the various procedures used in our Recycling, Testing and Build rooms.] Free Geek is also happy to help with job references for regular volunteers — just let us know if you’re interested in this when you come in and we’ll set you up with a supervisor who can give an informed recommendation.
Some of our volunteers are already familiar with many types of technology, but want to gain more hands-on troubleshooting experience with a wide variety of hardware and a range of less common issues. If you’re comfortable with the basics, more challenging testing and building projects are available. You’ll also have the opportunity to teach the material to newer volunteers, which can be a great way to take your own knowledge to the next level.
Others come to Free Geek looking for a more regular and committed volunteer experience in the form of an internship. Some are fulfilling a requirement for a school or other institution, while others simply want to put their skills to use in a helpful and resume-building way. Check out our internship program for more information about this opportunity—anyone can intern!
And, of course, many volunteer simply because they think the work our organization is doing is important. With Free Geek, you can help make sure electronics are ethically recycled and provide organizations and individuals with access to affordable equipment. Check out our awesome Mission Statement and get involved!