Mike Hollinger
“I volunteered because
I want to make a difference
in the community. That’s
why I am an IBMer,”
says Mike Hollinger.

Mike Hollinger
“I volunteered because
I want to make a difference
in the community. That’s
why I am an IBMer,”
says Mike Hollinger.

Part one in a series. “Voices of IBM Volunteers” is part of the SkillsBuild program to reach one million young people through STEM-related volunteering in 2018, and five million young people over the next five years. Watch the video (YouTube, 04:20)

The drive to close the global skills gap is among IBM’s most important initiatives. SkillsBuild will call on IBM volunteers to promote activities that enable digital literacy with young people, introduce them to hands-on problem solving, and spark their interest in STEM learning—using resources and support on the IBM Volunteers web site.


IBM volunteer: Mike Hollinger

As a Master Inventor and IBM Senior Technical Staff Member with 13 years’ experience as a developer and leader, I am challenged every day to solve big, beefy and highly technical problems.

But recently, as an IBM volunteer, I got a chance to apply my problem solving skills in a totally different way. I honestly can’t tell you who enjoyed and benefited the most—the 20 LGBT+ youth who attended the MAVEN STEM workshop in Austin, Texas last year, or me and the other IBMers who volunteered to help this group of highly motivated students design their own video games.

MAVEN is a California-based non-profit organization committed to bridging the technology gap and paving career pathways for LGBT youth. The organization partners with tech companies around the country to hold one-day tech summits designed to expose local LGBT+ youth to STEM career opportunities.

While the young people we worked with got a chance to sharpen their design, writing and software development skills, I was also able to reap several important benefits from the experience.

First, it was just plain cool to get to see these young people turn their enthusiasm and ideas into a real, working game.

Second, through my volunteer experience, I have gained an extended network. I am now able to reach out to IBMers across the IBM Volunteers site and throughout the world for help or advice, to learn about best practices, and to trade tips on executing events in our communities.

Third, the experience has broadened my skills. I’ve been at IBM for 13 years and been exposed to many parts of our business. But there are still so many people and so many different roles that I would have never met without the connections I’ve made through my volunteer activities. In fact, one of the new hires that I met through the event last year is actually mentoring me on front-end web development because he knows way more about it than I do.

Finally, serving as an IBM volunteer gives us a unique chance to practice our skills out in the community, connecting what we do for a living with a particular need in society and seeing a real impact. IBM supports our volunteer efforts as a force multiplier. The grants (login required) and activity kits provided helps us make the most impact for our time and effort.


For over 100 years, IBMers have created positive change in the world through their day-to-day work and their service in local communities. Since 2004, nearly 300,000 IBM employees and retirees have contributed more than 20 million hours of volunteer service.


About these stories

Read about IBMers whose volunteer efforts are improving communities around the world.


Activity Kits

IBM’s volunteer Activity Kits include everything you need for a range of activities.