For the past two years in Autodesk’s Barcelona Office, the Giving Back Committee has kept up a steady drumbeat of pro bono and volunteer opportunities for nearly 600 Autodeskers in Barcelona.
Year-round work culminates in an annual auction raising 15,000 euros
The December Holiday Auction, where employees bid on items like restaurant vouchers and personal training sessions to benefit a nonprofit, is one of the most anticipated events for Barcelona Autodeskers.
The 2021 auction raised 15,000 euros (about 17,000 U.S. dollars) from 130 attendees – nearly double the money raised in 2020 – for the Ethiopian Association for Families of Boys & Girls (AFNE), a nonprofit that funds children’s health projects in Ethiopia, and supports adoptive families of Ethiopian children in Spain. Chris Newport, Acting Head of the Giving Back Committee, says the auction’s success was no fluke but the result of a coordinated, year-round effort to encourage charitable giving and provide Barcelona Autodeskers with engaging impactful volunteer opportunities.
A crash course in resume-writing for immigrants in Spain
Adrien Semail, a Talent Acquisition Partner, had always loved the Barcelona Holiday Auction and had participated in small volunteer events in the office, like assembling water filters for under-resourced communities in sub-Saharan Africa with Wine to Water, a nonprofit that supports life and dignity through the power of clean water.
When Chris approached Adrien and a colleague about a volunteer opportunity, Adrien was familiar with the Giving Back Committee and excited to engage in a deeper way. Chris had recently met leaders of Bayt al Thaqafa, a nonprofit that helps immigrants transition to life in Spain, who said their constituents could benefit from a resume-writing workshop.
Adrien and three colleagues in the giving committee quickly agreed and set to work creating slides and activities for the workshop. “We’re a tight team already, and we work a lot together. It was a great experience knowing that we were working on something that was going to help people gain meaningful employment here in Barcelona.”
Over the course of two virtual sessions, Adrien and his colleagues provided 15 recent immigrants, from Venezuela to The Ivory Coast, with a crash course in resume-writing in the Spanish context.
In addition to providing a presentation that synthesized best practices, Adrien invited participants to critique his own resume, which he had modified beforehand to contain common errors he sees while reviewing job applications at Autodesk. He emphasized the importance of tailoring one’s resume for each different job application. “As recruiters, we receive so many resumes. The ones that stand out are the ones optimized for a specific role.”
Adrien says his favorite part of the workshop came during the introductory ice-breaker activity, where everyone shared their name, home country, and first job. Like Adrien, several participants’ first jobs were on the early shift at bakeries. “Even though it was virtual, we found a way to get to know people on an individual basis.”
Adrien says that while it’s too soon to tell what kind of impact the workshop had on the participants’ lives, the project felt rewarding in itself. “It was an opportunity to step out of the bubble of my day-to-day at Autodesk and see how the skills I’m developing aren’t just for this company or my can also be used to give back to others.”
“It was an opportunity to step out of the bubble of my day-to-day at Autodesk and see how the skills I’m developing aren’t just for this company or my career but can also be used to give back to others.”
Chris Newport of the Giving Back Committee says employees often articulate these kinds of intrinsic rewards after participating in pro bono projects. “It’s a good team-building exercise to see your colleagues in a different light and how we can work together under different pressures in a different environment.”
In addition to Bayt al Thaqafa and AFNE, the Giving Back Committee is partnering with the education nonprofit Empiezar por Educar to provide female role models to mentor young women interested in STEM fields. In 2022, he hopes to continue identifying short-term engagements like the resume workshop, where employees can experience the rewards of giving back.
If the holiday fundraiser is any indication, the Giving Back Committee’s success will only continue to grow. “When you raise that kind of money, it says a lot about the culture we have within our teams and as an entire community.”