Career Transitions: Exploring Your Options for Life After AmeriCorps

Contributed originally to the Nonprofit Career Month blog by Magdalena Montagne the Effective Practices Project Coordinator at the Resource Center.

People come to national and community service for a variety of reasons. As a young person, my desire to help children along with a love of reading led me to the America Reads program. I was considering becoming a teacher and this was one way I could check it out while also getting first-hand experience in several different classrooms (both elementary and middle school) and having the chance to observe some amazing teachers in action.

Of course, the real power was with the relationships I made with those students who were struggling to read. Every day I felt I was helping someone. This kept me engaged in a way that hadn’t happened in previous jobs, and before I knew it the service year was coming to a close. However, I hadn’t made a plan for what to do next. It wasn’t until several years — and several jobs — later, in my work as a writer and editor for the Resource Center, that I realized the depth and breadth of career possibilities available in the nonprofit world.

Many opportunities are available to AmeriCorps members when planning for “What’s Next,” and ideally some of these will be built in to your in-service trainings. For example, as an AmeriCorps tutor I was required to take a series of classes at the community college on topics such as how children learn to read, and best practices in tutoring. Having former AmeriCorps alumni as guest speakers at in-service trainings is also inspiring — hearing from someone who has already “been there, done that” can be a tremendous help. If you don’t get this experience at an in-service, seek out alumni in person or online and talk to them about their path after service.

The resources below are specifically geared toward helping AmeriCorps members transition to a career. Stay tuned for a post later this month from the Resource Center highlighting resources for AmeriCorps project directors to help them help their members prepare for life after service.

What’s Next: Life After Your Service Year – Comprehensive online resource with exercises to help you plan for transitions after your service term.

AmeriCorps Alums – Excellent online resource for getting and staying connected with other alumni. Benefits to members include job assistance, discounts, advice about using the Education Award, and personal and professional networking.

Service Corps to Social Impact Career — A free, downloadable book from Idealist.org to assist current service corps participants recent alums tackle the career transition. The book is copyrighted with a Creative Commons license allowing program staff and team leaders to legally photocopy and distribute any portion of the book.

From the Resource Center’s Effective Practices Collection:

  • Creating portfolios to capture AmeriCorps experiences
  • Establishing strong ties to local college and university career service offices
  • Exploring life’s options with informational interviews
  • Finding a job after AmeriCorps service
  • Finding a job in the environmental sector
  • Helping members plan for professional development
  • Helping members plan for professional development
  • From the Resource Center Library:

  • How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas
  • Idealist.org Handbook to Building a Better World: How to Turn Your Good Intentions into Actions that Make a Difference
  • Making a Living While Making a Difference: Conscious Careers for an Era of Interdependence
  • Nonprofit Career Guide: How to Land a Job That Makes a Difference
  • Practical Idealists: Changing the World and Getting Paid
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