Volunteer Spotlight: Taryn Sauthoff

Meet Taryn Sauthoff, a Director of Workflow, Data and Tools at Viacom and an outstanding volunteer within the Viacom community!

Last summer, Taryn was completing a course in website development and the final project was to build a website for a nonprofit organization. So Taryn hopped on the Talent for Good website, Viacom’s skills-based volunteer platform, to discover a nonprofit in need of a revamp. She came across YoungMoms, a small nonprofit organization that provides supportive services to pregnant and parenting young women in rural Pennsylvania and was compelled to offer up her talents to their cause.

In this interview Taryn shares her experience of volunteering her skills, the impact that it had and encourages the Viacom community to consider doing the same!

What motivated you to volunteer your skills on the Talent For Good platform?

Taryn: Many people want to volunteer but don’t know where to start. Often, when they think about volunteering, the first thing that comes to mind is going to a soup kitchen or giving out sandwiches to the homeless. Volunteering is certainly that, but can also be so much more. That’s really why Talent For Good appealed to me, because I was able to find a project that would help people, using my web-building knowledge — which would also help me improve on these new skills.

Can you give us an overview of the project?

Taryn: I wasn’t supposed to start right away but I ended up starting work on the site earlier because the site had been hacked and was completely down! Linda, the Executive Director reached out to say that the site and email, absolutely everything were down, so I sprang into action. I had never done many of the things that I had to do then, like working on getting a site back from a hacker or how to handle these situations rapidly but it was good practice as reacting quickly to technical problems could mirror a situation at Viacom.

Taryn volunteers her skills through Talent for Good!

The scope of the project definitely shifted due to this as I was originally only going to go in and update the Wordpress theme and plugins and then train the YoungMoms team to maintain the website. Instead I ended up restoring their email accounts, recovering the website content and building a website from scratch — really doing the IT work as well as providing a brand new site.

What sort of relationship did you build with the YoungMoms team?

Taryn: We became a team pretty quickly. Linda (the Executive Director) and I instantly cliqued and quickly aligned on our goals; I knew right away, I would want to stay involved with YoungMoms beyond the completion of the project. For the time being, my volunteering will be to maintain the website I built. When I get more free time, I’m going to go back and apply new things I’ve learned since the initial project began.

How do you feel working on this project impacted you in the longer term?

Taryn: All throughout my 20s, I felt that something was lacking in my life and I didn’t know exactly how to fill it. I was involved with some organizations and doing things like mentoring and organizing clothing drives, but it just wasn’t enough. I think the difference with the YoungMoms project is that I feel like I’m continuously helping them. I naturally like helping people — I didn’t realized that this thing that I’m moderately good at (building websites) can really help people. It’s a skill that I may take for granted and now I know that nonprofits may benefit from it. So much of my life here in New York City is waking up, going to work, working long days (at a job I love!), coming home and cooking dinner. However, now I am creating websites for nonprofits and feel like I am doing more to contribute to those who need it. I am also able to do this on my own schedule and use my own time management for it.

What do you think of Viacom’s approach to volunteerism in the workplace?

Taryn: It’s actually one of the reasons I decided to work for Viacom! Prior to Viacom I worked in news. I always wanted to work for a company with a social conscious and I’m lucky to be where I am now. From Talent For Good to Viacommunity Day, there are always easily accessible options to volunteer. I’m privileged to work for a company that cares about making a positive impact in the world.

What advice would you give your fellow Viacomers about volunteering their skills?

Taryn: I think many people are worried about taking on one of these things because they have a family or other responsibilities to honor. However, if they log on to Talent For Good, they’ll see it’s project based and they’ll see there’s some projects that will only take an hour, like a Powerpoint presentation! Viacom employees could do that in 15 minutes. For minimal work, they can have a great impact for a nonprofit. Viacomers need to realize that it’s not going to take so much effort on their part to help people who really need it. There really is a project that will fit everyone’s lifestyle — and if we all help just a little, the world will be a nicer place.

Just like Taryn, you too have talent that you can use for a purpose — find your project to help a nonprofit in need on Talent for Good.