Life After AmeriCorps [a.k.a. LAA]
We’re rounding the corner to April and at the front of Compact VISTAs’ minds- other than making sure they’re on the right track to complete their VADs (VISTA Assignment Description) and giving themselves ample time to update their sustainability binders for their successors- is: what’s next? The majority of the Compact VISTA programs begin/end around July and August, and while there are a few exceptions to that, it’s never too early or too late to think about making a plan for your career and education goals.
It’s important to note that it’s part of a VISTA’s service year to take advantage of professional development opportunities and plan for their “Life After AmeriCorps.” Sometimes, however, it can be a challenge to find time during the week to dedicate job searching/resume writing/grad school visiting/etc. into a VISTA’s busy schedule. That is why I’m a big fan of LinkedIn. It’s a professional social network site (like Facebook, but without those photos of you winning your town’s pickle-eating contest) that is always working for you. This article from the site DailyWorth is a short read with some great tips on how to get the most out of your LinkedIn profile (whether you’re new to it or not). While I haven’t used it to network specifically for a job, yet, I’ve been able to use it to stay in the professional network of my AmeriCorps colleagues and to even connect with local alums that went to the university I studied at in England.
Another great resource for VISTAs who are thinking about their service year wrapping up is VISTA Campus.This site is run by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and is a great resource for the entirety of a VISTA’s service year, but is especially useful when planning for Life after VISTA. (To access that page, you will need to login to the site either as a guest or with your VISTA Campus username and password). There, you will find webinars, information on how to incorporate transition planning into your service year, detailed information on the non-competitive eligibility status for government positions, and much more.
Keep in mind that AmeriCorps Alums is a national organization with chapters across the country. Be sure to tap into those resources wherever you are or plan to be; and don’t wait until the end of your service, either. Make those connections now and try to hit the ground running. I cannot stress enough the importance, and incredible potential, of those of us who have served with AmeriCorps banding together.
My LAA plans are because of my AmeriCorps experiences. I’m from California, but I’ll be staying in Boston for a graduate school program that I actually learned of from an AmeriCorps Alums Boston event I went to over a year ago. So, if you’re interested in grad school, be sure to check out this list of colleges and universities that provide scholarships and resources to AmeriCorps Alumni. Stay open-minded and truly explore your options. And if you don’t see the school you’re interested in attending on there, call and ask. VISTA is about building leaders and working with communities to effect social change, so: lead and change.
Good luck and feel free to reach out to me with any questions or feedback!
Alex Motter is a National AmeriCorps VISTA Leader with Campus Compact and can be reached by email here.