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Putting Purpose First as an Akamai Co-op

Written by

Caitlin Brightman

August 02, 2021

As I began my CSR Co-op position this year, I wanted to see up-close how a corporate foundation works. What I've found is that the work the Akamai Foundation does around the world is inspiring! Whether it's partnering with STEM educators, responding to the COVID-19 crisis, planning employee volunteerism efforts, or creating a hardship fund to support our community, what we do here has a positive impact across the globe. And, thanks to this co-op opportunity, I've been able to play a real part in driving this impact forward.

I've always been drawn to the nonprofit sector. Since I was young I've enjoyed volunteering, contributing work to a variety of causes such as job training for young adults experiencing homelessness, mentoring middle school girls on mental health and self-confidence, and teaching accessible theater to students with special needs. I'm passionate about education - and ensuring everybody gets equal access to the learning opportunities they deserve. 

That's why the Akamai Foundation resonated with me. It is dedicated to encouraging the next generation of technology innovators by supporting STEM education. In addition to this mission, it provides humanitarian aid globally, and supports Akamai employees to volunteer in their local communities. All of this is done through a commitment to inclusion, diversity, and engagement for both our employees and partners.  

One of the highlights of working as a CSR Co-Op here has been getting to play a role in our global STEM grant process. The Foundation dedicates over $1million annually to prevent the divide in STEM education. We aim to find organizations doing powerful, innovative work, and determine how they can make the most impact with our dollar - whether that means teaching tech skills to girls in Costa Rica, launching IT careers for young mothers in Krakow, or STEM career mentorship for homeless families in Boston.

In my short time here I got to see the STEM grant review process from beginning to end. It's incredible to see the number of grants submitted, and to be involved in distributing them to our sites across the globe. 

This spring I had the chance to evaluate grant applications and present my findings to the giving committee, and also assess the actual evaluation forms themselves. The goal - to make sure they're reflecting our values and doing even more to help us diversify our tech industry. 

Education has been so hard hit by the pandemic, disproportionately affecting those in communities that were already underserved. Sadly, it's made the education divide greater than ever, which makes the work we're doing even more important.

Throughout the past two years we've witnessed technology become our lifeline, the only way to bring people together. That's why it's so inspiring to be part of an organization that's empowering youth to diversify the tech field and make their voices heard.  As the world is rapidly becoming more technical everyday, the Akamai Foundation is ensuring that no one is left behind in this digital divide. 

Corporate Social Responsibility is no longer just a function to me. I've had the opportunity to see what that really means- a company that contributes beyond its product lines to the needs of the world; a company that provides a Foundation; and the people throughout the company coming together to fund, promote and enact a diverse collection of meaningful programs. It has been rewarding to witness the passion, values and people that drive these efforts, and I can't wait to see what impact the Akamai Foundation has in the years to come.

Advice to future Akamai interns and co-ops: Step out of your comfort zone and be open to taking on projects that you don't know how to do. It's the best way to learn! Remember that your managers and mentors want to see you succeed - so don't be afraid to ask for help or advice. Put in the time to build relationships with the people you work with, and try to reach out to as many colleagues as you can. It can feel isolating when you start a new job working from home, so it's even more important to work hard to make new connections. Your time here will go by faster than you think, so take time to enjoy it and learn as much as you can!



Written by

Caitlin Brightman

August 02, 2021