Not only is VISTA service a great way to serve a year (or two or three) and get an award to help pay for school or repay student loans, it can also give alumni an advantage when applying for federal jobs.
Upon the completion of service, VISTAs receive a year of non-competitive eligibility for federal jobs. What this means is you can apply for federal jobs that are not open to the general public. (NOTE: This benefit only applies to VISTA and Peace Corps.)
This benefit doesn’t guarantee you a federal job, but as long as your qualified and there is an opening, you have a better shot at getting hired than someone who never served.
Here’s some additional info from cns.gov:
To establish your non-competitive status, you will need proof of eligibility. Once you have completed service, log onto the My AmeriCorps portal to print an AmeriCorps*VISTA certification letter. Visit http://my.americorps.gov to register at the My AmeriCorps portal. Click the “My Service Letter” link to create and print your letter. If your letter is incorrect or the portal cannot locate your record, please contact the VISTA Member Support Unit at VISTAMemberSupportUnit@cns.gov.
Submit copies of this statement with your federal job applications. Information on federal positions can be obtained from USAJOBS, the federal government’s one-stop source for federal jobs and employment information. USAJOBS is accessible at http://www.usajobs.opm.gov/.
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Honestly, you’re better off just applying to a low entry gov job and promoting your way up to jobs you do want. From my experience, many federal and state agencies couldn’t care less if you did or didn’t complete a full year of AmeriCorps.
Thank you for chiming in! I think AmeriCorps VISTA is a good starting place though, for many people, to strengthen a community based organization or local government agency, or to help decide whether you want to take on a low entry level government job or to go some other route. There are so many reasons to do a term of VISTA service, not simply as a means of establishing noncompetitive status.
VISTA is as much about as giving to the community as it is in getting that noncompetitive opportunity with the Federal govt. I’ve done it and received good training and believe that my time there helped our local community.