Why “dugnad” is so important

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F.l: Elisabeth Opøyen, Jennifer Wold, Kristina Brend.

The norwegian expressions “dugnad” and “skippertak” both describes something that always has been very important for DIGS: voluntary work.

From the early beginning our founders put down a lot of time and effort making this place what it is today. And for many startups and organizations the case will often be that you don’t always get paid for the time you put in to a project. So, why do you do it?

We asked 3 ladies who all have very different connections to DIGS about why they choose to spend time on voluntering:

Elisabeth Opøyen: Project manager at Streetlight, Intern at DIGS, and co-host for our monthly event Launchpad.

— There’s many reasons why I choose to volunteer. First and foremost because I think the company/organization is doing something exciting, and I want to learn more about them and their work. Also, I get a chance to contribute with the knowledge and the ideas I have myself.

Being a volunteer gives me experiences that I might not get otherwise. Adding new things to my resume, and the possibility of establishing new references. I also learn new skills, and get to develop my excicting ones. Volunteering gives me great potential to use the theory I’ve learnt in school in practice.

Another advantage by volunteering is that you can test different careers, to see what you are most comfortable with. This might help you to find the right path being a relative new jobseeker. By the end of the day I’m left with motivation and energy, getting to interact with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I have gotten to be a part of tasks I think are interesting and educational. In the end I also hope that the case I’m volunteering for feel that they are left with more than I claim working for them.

Jennifer Wold: Executive Director for TEDx Trondheim, Project manager for The List.

I grew up with the mentality that you do good for other people, because it is the right thing to do. Volunteering is doing good on a consistent basis. You can always find time; skip a tv show, don’t spend endless time wandering around a shopping centre, or take that friend with you instead of spending hours in a café. Not everything we do needs rewarding and there is always plenty to be done. Many hands make light work as far as I am concerned.

Voluntary work raises empathy, compassion, a feeling of belonging, love for your community, personal growth and growth in competency, and most important friendship. I have seen the loneliest of people blossom when in the right group of people. My volunteer work with TEDxTrondheim lead me to work with Technoport. My work at Technoport lead me to The List Magazine. Neither of these opportunities would have presented themselves without having first landed with TEDxTrondheim.

TEDxTrondheim has a lot of events. Each one with their own unique feel, challenges, and joys. At the end of every event I am always immensely proud, and I feel like I have both helped provide people with new knowledge and gained a lot myself. I am the CEO of our organisation, and on the board of our non-profit. I feel like I am so lucky and I have the best job in the world because of the people I get to spend time with. Plus, I am a huge TED Talks fan so making independently organized TED like events just makes me insanely happy.

Trondheim is an interesting city because of the university. It is both people’s home town and their home away from home. As an immigrant, I have found it a challenge to find ‘my place’, but with volunteering it is a lot of diverse people under a common cause who meet up.  If you do the same thing and only hangout with the same people, life gets boring. Norwegians like to keep their friend groups really tight, but there are a lot of people in this city that would love to know more people who live here. Be immersed in the culture more. Know they have people to turn to.

Kristina Brend: Cofounder of Girl Geek Dinners Trondheim, board member of ODA network, Project manager in NxtMedia, named Community Builder of the year.

 I volunteer because it gives me an energy boost. It’s inspiring, fun, and motivating for my workday, as well as I learn lots of new things, and get to know a lot of new people. It’s fun giving back to the community in Trondheim by organizing good events.

In my experience people need these kinds of meeting places for professional input and networking. For me personally it gives a unique network and a good overview that is relevant for my job. Most importantly is the good feeling you get after a Girl Geek Dinners event. It’s a privilege being able to give that feeling to others by helping the organizing committee out, and making monthly events within the tech segment possible.

In Norway 1 out of 3 is somehow volunteering. Many within sports or cooperatives. I recommend everyone to get involved with something that increases your motivation, and interests you. It might be professional, teamwork like in sports and cooperatives, or humanitarian aid. Nobody can help everyone, but everyone can help someone.

Short summary: it’s recommended for body, mind, networking and career to somehow volunteer!


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