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Tips for building your AmeriCorps service into a career

Side Profile Of AmeriCorps Coaches Smiling At Unknown Person

Serving with AmeriCorps is an enriching journey, filled with unique experiences creating a profound impact. Across the nation, AmeriCorps members unite under a shared mission: to uplift their communities and cultivate personal growth through civic engagement. Yet, one of the most challenging aspects of service involves deciding on next steps after completing a term. To fully utilize the effort invested in service, individuals must know how to leverage their experience to propel themselves into their next position, whether that be as a nonprofit leader, a graduate student, educator, business owner, or other professional. 

We recently sat down with Jasmine McCain, College Possible Omaha’s recruitment and training manager, to discuss what it means to leverage an AmeriCorps experience. Since AmeriCorps members can serve in various capacities, the type of professional development varies. Below are some methods on how to connect with the greater AmeriCorps network to help you land your dream job.

Eight ways to leverage your AmeriCorps network: 

  • Develop your AmeriCorps service pitch: What was the impact and how did you grow?
  • Think about getting involved in nonprofit boards: Engaging with these boards  offers valuable nonprofit experience while continuing community service.
  • Keep your resume and LinkedIn profile updated: When listing your experience, especially as a new alumnus, be sure to add metrics and the impact of your service – numbers speak volumes.
  • Tap into the network: AmeriCorps organizations exist all over the country, and so do alumni. Even if you have not served with the same organization or in the same industry, reach out to other alumni, and connect through your service experience.
  • Focus on transferable skills: Highlight leadership, management, and communication skills gained through AmeriCorps service.
  • Access the AmeriCorps alumni website and the alumni job board.
  • Consult with AmeriCorps organization staff: If you are looking for a job in a specific area or field, reach out to local AmeriCorps organizations that might know about open positions. 
  • Ask for your evaluation and reflect on your experience. 

Connecting with the AmeriCorps network isn’t solely for career advancement of educational pursuits; it’s also about nurturing ongoing relationships with the community. Even if you’ve established yourself professionally, consider reconnecting with your former AmeriCorps service site to share your current endeavors or offer support through events, panels, or partnerships. McCain likes to think about the AmeriCorps network as a college career center; you have lifetime support, even after serving.

Transitioning from AmeriCorps service member to alum

McCain, along with Arvin Frazier, College Possible Omaha’s executive director, have been a part of numerous AmeriCorps alumni journeys. You can find former College Possible coaches in education, higher education administration, counseling, graduate school and in numerous other fields and industries. McCain and Frazier have served as references for many alumni, underscoring the importance of cultivating strong relationships within your College Possible service site and the AmeriCorps network. McCain reminds us, “It’s about who you know. But most importantly, it’s about who knows you.” 

Ultimately, the effectiveness of leveraging your AmeriCorps experience hinges on your ability to convey its value during interviews. According to Frazier, while networking within the AmeriCorps community is important, articulating your skills during job interviews is crucial.  For current AmeriCorps members preparing to transition out of  service, you should stay engaged, explore potential career paths, and seek feedback on your resume to position yourself effectively in the job market. McCain recommends seeking informal interviews with professionals at companies you are interested in. Let the professional world know who you are and that you have served with AmeriCorps. 

For both alumni and current AmeriCorps members, remember that your service should continue to benefit you beyond your term. You’ve dedicated yourself to serving others; now, let AmeriCorps serve you in return.

This piece was written by Mackenzie Bledsoe, AmeriCorps member and College Possible coach at College Possible Omaha.

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