A corps member wonders about leaving the service corps early.
My host site has offered me a full-time job. I am trying to decide whether I want to just quit my national service term now and take the job, or ask the host organization wait until my term is up in February. The dilemma, of course, is my education award. Do you know if AmeriCorps ever pro-rates the educational award? Are there any options that you might know of?
Of course, it might also be more profitable to take the job now, because I could probably make the amount of the educational award in a few months.
Thanks so much!
Congratulations! I am really glad that your host organization recognizes your hard work and talent.
Yikes, this is a tough question. There is little chance you would get any of your educational award. (Maybe if you were leaving because of a life-threatening illness in your family.)
I also think it would reflect negatively on your host organization to hire a corps member who isn’t finished with their term yet. Your organization would jeopardize getting new participants by hiring you on. I was hired by my boss at Idealist.org about three months before my AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader term ended – and he waited for me! I took his willingness to wait as a sign of respect for me and for AmeriCorps*VISTA.
I think asking your host organization to wait is the best option. In the long run you’ll feel more of a sense of accomplishment, and you won’t let down community partners who are expecting you to serve out your term. If you ever need to apply to host corps members yourself, or you want to participate in the activities of your alumni group, you’ll be able to hold your head high.
If you decided to wait, and your organization agreed, maybe you could change your work plan enough to tackle some of the new job tasks, if they are related to the grant proposal submitted originally to fund your current service position.
On the other hand if you are facing more than just the typical economic hardship (i.e. if you are ruining your credit record or running up irreparable debt), the choice is also clear that you should accept the job offer. Also if your organization isn’t willing to wait for you, that might be another reason to seriously consider leaving your service year early – though again, it will not reflect well on the organization.
Regardless of what you decide, you can interpret the early job offer as a clear sign that you’ll readily find quality work when you do finish your term!
Most likely, once you start earning a regular salary you won’t feel like you missed out by waiting. If you started a salaried job tomorrow, you’d have little chance of socking away $4725 (the amount of your educational award) by February.
Good luck whatever you decide….
This blog post has been adapted from a section of the forthcoming Service Corps Companion to the Idealist.org Guide to Nonprofit Careers, due out this coming spring from Idealist.org.