What Next?: Reflections of a Graduating VISTA

“With every door that closes, another falls off its hinges.”

I’ve been watching my VISTA door close slowly for the last couple of months. The other door hasn’t yet fallen off its hinges.

There’s a lot of ‘wait and see’ in my life. My partner in crime and roommate just graduated from an engineering program and has been applying to jobs like crazy. Jobs in faraway and tumultuous places like Arizona. He has had several interviews but no offer.

It’s an anxiety inducing situation for me, the planner, the organizer, the coordinator. In a perfect world, I’d have something lined up. But in this imperfect world, I have 2+ years experience, a network, references, savings, good health, and parents that will take me in if I can’t even get a coffee shop job.

I’ve held back on applying for a lot of positions, partly because there aren’t a ton of jobs that fit my qualifications. I also spend a lot of time tailoring my resumes and cover letters, so I don’t want to waste time doing that only to find out we’re shipping off to Dallas. Or at least that’s my excuse.

Life transitions are hard. I’ve really only gone through a few in my short time. Graduating high school and moving out to go to college. Graduating college and moving off-campus. And now this, finishing up my term of service program in a job market full of temp jobs and service jobs.

After 20 months as a VISTA at my site, I can’t imagine finding a position and organization that will offer me the same level of challenge and support as my project site. I’ve been spoiled by the level of responsibility and autonomy with which I’ve been trusted as I developed and implemented a volunteer services program at a mid-size nonprofit (10 programs, 92 staff & VISTAs).

I know that I don’t possibly have the imagination to foresee what doors will fall off their hinges for me. I’ve seen it happen before. The beauty of serendipity. Things just fall together at the right time. Granted it’s after some resume polishing, cover letter writing, and networking. That’s how I ended up at my site.

I started this post with a quote, and I’ll end it with one that occurs to me: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” (“Closing Time,” Semisonic).

My last day of AmeriCorps VISTA service is June 30. I’m seeking a (preferably full-time) position in the nonprofit or government sector as a program associate/coordinator, volunteer coordinator, development associate or something similar in the Twin Cities. Follow me on Twitter @mpherson or find me on LinkedIn.

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