Students volunteering their time at hospitals provides an educational experience and helps them explore a career in the medical field.  There are a variety of volunteer positions available from nursing units, information desks, the ER or at the gift shop.   Yolanda Altamirano from the Yakima Herald writes:

No matter what their age, volunteers help save money. Last year, volunteers at Memorial helped save the hospital $996,000, according to Trammell.  “They are extremely helpful,” Trammell says. “The amount they save for the hospital is priceless.”

Volunteering provides services to the hospital but is also a great way for students to learn more about the industry, explore a career in healthcare, learn new skills and have fun while helping others.

To learn more about student volunteering, contact your local hospital and inquire about volunteer services.

Finding a volunteer job can be challenging if you don’t do your homework.  The more research you do in trying to understand the volunteer industry, the more likely you are to find an opportunity you are looking for.  Alina Tugend from the New York Times reports:

Problems may arise for a number of reasons. Nonprofit groups, already stretched thin, may not have the staff to adequately train and manage volunteers, or even to respond to volunteer requests.  And sometimes, the organization or the position just doesn’t turn out to be what you expected.

Here are some resources that provide information that can help you along your volunteer path:

  • Urban Institute’s National Center for Charitable Statistics:  Here you can find quick answers about the nonprofit sector, information about how many organizations there are in the U.S., statistics and profiles.
  • Foundation Center:  This site provides knowledge on philanthropy, training courses, information about funding, events and more.
  • GuideStar:  They consolidate data from nonprofits and additional sources to inform you about the legitimacy and financial health of the organization.
  • Look for a local city program or organization where you can find opportunities where you can impact the pressing needs of your community

We have talked about volunteering and the benefits in how it can help your career such as learning new skills, making new contacts, keeping your mind sharp and keeping your spirits up.  Once you have made the decision to volunteer, how should you go about making your first move in the volunteer direction?  First you should decide what skills you have and apply those skills to a cause.  If you are in sales you can work on fundraising.  If you are a web developer you can volunteer your time to build websites.

One foundation that we discovered where you can volunteer your skills is Taproot.  You can use your professional expertise to help a local nonprofit organization. Taproot’s overview:

Nonprofits have the greatest potential for addressing our society’s most challenging social and environmental problems, but often lack the operational resources to be effective. The Taproot Foundation exists to close this gap and ensure all nonprofits have the infrastructure they need to thrive.

You can get a monthly update for new opportunities to the following metropolitan areas such as San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles.  Taproot works with professionals in the following fields: Creative Services, Marketing, Human Resources & Management, Information Technology, and Strategy Management.  The process for signing up is very simple and only takes a matter of minutes.  You create a volunteer profile and tell them a little about yourself.  Volunteer Recruitment Coordinators will then match you to the right types of pro bono service for your skills and interests.

To understand how a project works starting from service grants for nonprofits to volunteering, you can view the details on their site.  They also list the case studios for their pro bono featured projects.

Interesting tidbit from Taproot…


A “taproot” is the core root of a plant (picture a turnip). It gathers nutrients from lateral roots and delivers them to a plant to enable it to flourish.

We see ourselves as a taproot for the nonprofit sector, drawing nutrients from the community and delivering them to nonprofits to enable them to thrive.

JobAngels Raise a WingMinds are racing each day as we hear statistics about continuous layoffs as unemployment rates increase.  There is a lot of worry circling in our homes or on the internet but there are people who are looking to build a brighter side by helping others who are in need of a job.  We found an article from the Los Angeles Times by David Sarno regarding human resource consultant Mark Steizner and his associate who had an idea to create JobAngels on Twitter.  JobAngels is a Twitter account where users can follow and help others find jobs or volunteer their resume proofing skills.

….the nascent enterprise has attracted more than 2,000 followers. Stelzner has shot out hundreds of tweets from people volunteering their résumé-proofing skills, passing along job notices or looking to become full-blown job angels — raising a wing for gig-seekers in need..

Flush with the glow of very early success, Stelzner…

…and a few volunteer developers are building a networking site that takes the concept a step further, aiming to help seekers find the perfect angel. “If and LinkedIn had a child, this is what it would look like,” he said, referring to the popular dating and professional networking sites. The site hasn’t launched, and Stelzner is deciding if it’ll be a money-making venture or just a labor of love

As Stelzner and his followers help connect people in finding jobs, we look forward to seeing the new networking site that matches seekers to job angels.  Until then, JobAngels on Twitter is another tool that can be used in finding a job or helping others find jobs.

Renkoo was founded on March 1, 2005, with the belief that we could build a great application that employs the Internet to bring people together.

Version 1 of Renkoo lasted about two years. We built a website — — that helped people decide when and where together with real-life friends. We learned a lot about building social applications and helped pioneer Dojo Toolkit in the process.

Version 2 of Renkoo also lasted about two years. We decided it was better to take your applications where people are — the social networks — and as a result we learned how to build an entirely different type of social application. We built a half dozen popular applications on Facebook and MySpace that got used by more than 36 million people over a half billion times. These applications were not fulfilling to us because although they were entertaining, they did not help people help other people.

Version 3 of Renkoo is about to begin. We will apply everything we’ve learned — from cutting-edge JavaScript and CSS technology, to our understanding of how applications spread on social networks — to a new domain that we find very fulfilling.

From this point forward, we will serve the mission of helping people help other people.

Wanted: Release Engineer

January 3, 2008

Renkoo is looking for a Release Engineer with operations experience. You will be in charge of getting our applications out into production and play a supporting role in keeping them running. If you enjoy learning new things and have a passion for developing cutting-edge methods for managing complex large-scale systems, then this job is for you. This job is core to our engineering team and reports to our Web Operations Manager.

To qualify for this position, you must be reliable, good at documentation, willing to help others, and interested in learning new technologies and methods.


  • Deploying multiple web applications on a weekly schedule.
  • Update and/or replace our existing deployment infrastructure.
  • Helping plan deployments for new applications and major application updates.
  • Working closely with Development and Operations to ensure smooth release cycles.
  • Documenting deployment plans and application architectures.
  • Helping manage growth by generating usage reports.
  • Occasional second-tier on-call duty.


  • 2-5 years Build/Release experience.
  • Experience deploying website applications to clustered environments.
  • Experience with package managements systems and package creation on Linux.
  • Experience managing version control systems. Subversion preferred.
  • Scripting expertise in Shell, Perl, PHP, or Python (multiple a plus) and willingness to pick up new ones.
  • Experience setting up and maintaining database clusters (MySQL replication double plus good).
  • An understanding of protocols running over TCP (especially HTTP) and an ability to debug networking and network application problems.
  • A fundamental understanding of what makes web applications scalable and why throwing hardware at a problem is not the right answer.
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills.


  • Experience with Amazon Web Services: EC2, S3, Mechanical Turk.
  • Knowledge of Facebook Platform apps.
  • Experience scaling Ajax-based applications (especially OpenSocial).
  • Basic SQL query skills.
  • An understanding of make files and compiling binary applications from source.
  • Experience administering Linux-based servers (CentOS, RedHat, Debian, etc).
  • An understanding of network topologies and network equipment configuration.
  • Experience with automated web testing tools (Selenium a plus).

If you’re qualified (or know someone appropriate), please send a resume with subject “RELEASE ENGINEER” to

jobs -at- renkoo -dot- net

U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residency required. We’re very sorry to say that no sponsorships are available at this time due to U.S. government regulations. 😦

Renkoo builds and runs a family of web applications dedicated to helping people have fun. Our UI employs a whole lotta CSS and Javascript, with LAMP and Python on the back-end.

Our Redwood City crib is a half hour from San Jose or San Francisco by Caltrain, and walking distance from lots of great restaurants. 🙂

Renkoo is looking for a hands-on leader to build a web operations team from scratch. The successful candidate will be energized by solving all kinds of scaling issues, and will take pride in recruiting, training, mentoring, and managing a team that the entire company will rely on. This job is core to the mission of the company and reports to our VP of Engineering.


  • Purchasing and vendor management of all hardware, software, and services.
  • Supervising the administration of all parts of multiple LAMP-based web properties.
  • Hiring, training, and managing individual contributors in systems administration, networking, and release engineering.
  • Collaborating with specialist contractors outside the company.


  • Experience managing small web-ops teams and contractors.
  • Experience with high volume Internet applications.
  • Strong understanding of web application architecture, including TCP/IP and HTTP.
  • Experience with service oriented architectures.
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills, including the ability to produce documentation as needed.


  • Experience negotiating, moving, and managing co-location.
  • Experience operating a production web service.
  • Experience with Amazon Web Services such as EC2 and S3 at scale.
  • Experience with graph-based software systems.

If you’re qualified (or know someone appropriate), please send a resume with subject “WEB OPERATIONS MANAGER” to

jobs -at- renkoo -dot- net

U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residency required. We’re very sorry to say that no sponsorships are available at this time due to U.S. government regulations. 😦

Renkoo builds and runs a family of web applications dedicated to helping people have fun. Our UI employs a whole lotta CSS and Javascript, with LAMP and Python on the back-end.

Our Redwood City crib is a half hour from San Jose or San Francisco by Caltrain, and walking distance from lots of great restaurants. 🙂