BRUTALLY HONEST AMERICORPS REVIEW

From An Alum | The Advice I Wished I'd Had

If you're considering a term of national service or a year of volunteering, the AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps Vista, FEMA or NCCC may be for you. But, is it worth it?  This is the advice I'd wish I'd received.

INTRO

WHAT IS AN AMERICORPS POSITION?

FIRST

An AmeriCorps term is time spent “improving lives and fostering civic engagement,” according to the organization’s mission statement.

THAT CAN LOOK LIKE A NUMBER OF ARRANGEMENTS:

IN PRACTICE

- Traveling around the region or country in a cohort - Working in the field, such as a school, construction site or park  - Being stationed at a fixed location, like an office

CON #1

The pay. You get a very low living stipend and will just get by financially.

My tiny bedroom: the only apartment I could afford in Seattle on the AmeriCorps stipend. 

PRO #1

The stipend actually does have upsides. Learning to live minimally was a wonderful gift from my AmeriCorps experience, and I’m better for it.

AmeriCorps-acquired minimalism and budgeting skills helped me travel full-time and move abroad years later.

CON #2

It's temporary. Within a year, you’ll be job searching again.

I moved all the way from Pennsylvania to Washington State for my position, which only lasted 11.5 months. It was worth it for the adventure though.

PRO #2

You’ll be different from other job applicants (in a good way). AmeriCorps on your resume helps you stand out in competitive job searches.

After my AmeriCorps position, I moved to Chicago for a new job. The program experience seemed to be well-respected by my interviewers.

CON #3

The positions are hit or miss. I was in an office, which had its perks: pictured here, my coworkers filled my cubicle with balloons on my birthday.

 Ask these 5 questions in your AmeriCorps interview

But, I was incredibly bored and would've much rather been in the field. I wasn't aware of my options when I chose.

What percentage of the time for this position is spent in the office versus in the field?

QUESTION #1

What is the appropriate wardrobe for this position?

Some positions have uniforms; some positions will require you to buy a business wardrobe. 

QUESTION #2

How many other AmeriCorps members will I work with daily? How often will I see my supervisor?

QUESTION #3

What have previous AmeriCorps members in this position gone on to do?

Specifically, you want to know if the previous members have quit their position halfway the contract. That's a red flag.

QUESTION #4

If you make an informed placement choice and know what you want to get out of the experience, yes. It's very worthwhile.

IS AMERICORPS

WORTH IT?