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Life After AmeriCorps Times: How AmeriCorps Works to Get You the Job

by Ben Duda

AmeriCorps Works and Gets Things DoneYear-round, AmeriCorps Alums, the national network for all alumni of national service, seeks to positively support and impact the professional life of its members. It is fitting tribute then that this year's AmeriCorps Week theme is AmeriCorps Works, perfectly aligning with the mission of AmeriCorps Alums.

Serving in AmeriCorps is often an incredible experience, filled with memorable moments, significant challenges, inside jokes, personal accomplishments, and new life-long friends.

However, many AmeriCorps alumni have difficulty describing their service on a resume or during an interview. It is easy to talk about the team or placement, but translating those service experiences into a language that resonates with a potential employer, especially one in the for profit sector, can be a challenge.

Illustrating the valuable experience and skills provided by AmeriCorps will make a significant impact in an interview. Here are a few tips:

The Resume

First, be sure to have a strong resume. On it, list the position as ‘AmeriCorps Member' and clearly articulate the skills utilized during a year of service. Highlight skills developed such as project management, facilitation, community engagement, and youth education to draw the connection between AmeriCorps skills to those needed in the next job.

Don't forget to have AmeriCorps written in a place of prominence. An AmeriCorps program site offers a professional network of others that might have worked for, or know that agency. 775,000 Americans have served in AmeriCorps and may be familiar with one program, but less so with another. All members have accomplished great things as part of their AmeriCorps service, but focusing a resume on the skills acquired through service will help employers understand why AmeriCorps alums make a great hire.

The Interview

Similar to a resume, identify and highlight the relevant skills acquired and honed during AmeriCorps service in an interview. It is important to bring specific examples. For example, talk about an NCCC experience managing a disaster relief effort or how in VISTA, you oversaw a monthly community outreach effort. Tying the answer to relevant AmeriCorps experiences will not only show how multifaceted a service year can be, but it most importantly, will demonstrate to prospective employers how those skills meet the desired job's requirements.

My resume is skill and project oriented, but I've always included my chainsaw certification through NCCC. I've been told more than once that this caught a reviewer or interviewers eye. During the interview, I can use that as an icebreaker, and then pivot to discussing the challenges of leading a diverse team in that serves high need communities.

Get Inspired

There are hundreds of jobs out there, and it's incredibly exciting to see how AmeriCorps Alums are utilizing their service experiences to succeed in a diverse array of careers. To learn how others have made AmeriCorps work in their professional path, join AmeriCorps Alums for our AmeriCorps Week Online TownHall on March 13th from 3 – 4:30pm.

The discussion, “Inspirational Pathways of Service and Leadership”, will feature five Alums who are pursuing five different career tracks after service. This year's panelists are:

  • Traymone Deadwyler - AmeriCorps*National Compliance Manager, Points Of Light Institute
  • Noreen Zobel - Manager, Talent & Regional Team Operations, Teach For America
  • Oscar Fabian – Director of University Development & Alumni Relations, UCSF School of Dentistry
  • Susan Chavez - Nonprofit Social Media Consultant, TechSoup Global
  • Dhriti Pandya - Senior Development Manager, Junior Achievement of Dallas, Inc.

We will explore where they served, what they're doing now, and the key steps they took along the way. Last year we had over 300 attendees, and are encouraging current, Alumni and even non AmeriCorps members to join us for this free webinar session. Register now.

We're looking forward to a great 2012 AmeriCorps Week! How has AmeriCorps worked in your Life After AmeriCorps?

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