VISTA Career Transitions Featured on Social Media Monday

The upcoming Social Media Monday webshop focuses on the career transition, especially for AmeriCorps VISTAs.

Monday May 24th at noon Pacific, 3 pm Eastern, you can hop online and on the phone for a free web presentation featuring tools for your transition from VISTA.

Social Media Monday webshops (web-based workshops) are “virtual workshops for social change.” Monday’s webshop will focus on:

  • Plaxo, an online contact management and social networking tool that can help you stay in touch with the folks you work with currently as a VISTA, as you move onto your next steps — one of the most valuable, long-term effects of VISTA in your career and life will be the friendships and professional connections you’ve made this year. Plaxo isn’t just another e-rolodex, however. The contacts in your Plaxo network update their own information as they move along in their lives and careers — so you don’t have to. Plaxo also allows you to get all your social network updates in one place.

Learn more and register for Monday’s webshop: (free) Tools for Transitioning: Plaxo, Idealist & More.

Check out past Social Media Monday webshops — archived online — on the VISTA Campus (free login required).

Skip the Gym Membership and Get Fit for Free

Who has a couple of New Years’ resolutions in mind for 2010?

I know I do.

In the spirit of healthiness, many Americans want to become more health conscious.  And health conscious resolutions usually involve a gym membership, diet, and “dream weight” on the scale.

However, as many of us start this New Year, we will have a tighter clutch on our wallets.  Save money by bypassing the gym membership and creating your own exercise at home or searching for free and low-cost fitness classes in your neighborhood. Break a sweat without breaking your bank and save money for better food shopping and your savings.

Gym Math:

Membership Fee: approx. $75

+ Monthly Fee: approx. $30

= Roughly $435 Per Year.

I am not bashing gyms.  I have a gym membership and regularly attend my gym but also replicate similar workouts in my Continue reading

Recipes for Healthy Holiday Eats and Treats

The holiday season is amongst us, which includes an ample dose of delicious celebratory foods and drinks. It can be hard to pass up egg nog, creamy dips, latkes, or any holiday food. And as a number one fan of my mother’s sugar cookies, I wouldn’t ask anyone to give up their indulgent holiday favorite.

However, several days ago, I contributed to a healthy holiday potluck gathering with fellow HealthCorps’ corps members. The spread of “healthified” and inexpensive options varied from creative appetizers to desserts and reaffirmed the notion that healthy holiday treats can extend beyond an entire table of carrots and yogurt dip. I’ve chosen several inexpensive, healthier, and delicious recipes to incorporate into your regular holiday fare this year. Follow the recipes to a “T” or create your own versions.

Spicy Sweet Potato Cakes and Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato or yam, cooked and peeled
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and very thinly grated
  • ½ Jalapeno pepper, minced Continue reading

For Corps Members: Free or Low-Cost Gift Ideas for People You Love

homemade soap, wrapped in cloth

Giving gifts when you are a corps member.

Last year I wrote about how people can show love to the corps member in their life through their holiday gift-giving. This year I wanted to offer some ideas about how corps members themselves can give gifts when their incomes are often incredibly limited.

I asked The New Service contributors and currently serving corps participants Marissa Pherson of AmeriCorps VISTA and Leslie Dolland of Health Corps to share their thoughts, too. Here are the ideas we’ve collectively come up with.

Setting the Stage for Frugal Gift Exchange

If you are gathering many other corps members, extended family, or among a group of old friends, consider throwing a White Elephant party swapping gifts doesn’t have to be expensive when you’re swapping things you already own.

If you are exchanging gifts individually with others — your partner, close friends, family members, and/or fellow corps members — consider setting some ground rules such as: Continue reading

Keeping Your Sleep Debt Slim

cmw3_d_alarmclock1I’ve yet to hear an adult tell me on any given morning: “I’m soooo rested.  I had way too much sleep last night.”

On the other hand, we’d all be smiling if we had a nickel for every time someone said: “I’m soooo tired.  I didn’t get enough sleep.”  Demanding jobs, personal relationships, and day-to-day tasks consume our lives.  Yet the important task of sleeping seems to fall to the bottom of our priority list.  Sacrificing quality sleep, however, could potentially be adding to your sleep debt.  And who wants more debt?!

What is Sleep Debt?

Sleep debt is the accumulated sleep that is lost due to poor sleeping habits, sickness, or other causes that affect “peaceful” sleep.  This debt can become difficult to “pay back” if it becomes too large.  Adults roughly need between 7-9 hours of sleep Continue reading

Really? Another year?: Committing to Another Term of Service

This post was contributed by Kate Borman who is currently serving her second AmeriCorps VISTA term with ThreeSixty Journalism, a youth journalism program based at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN.

Most people are shocked to hear that I chose to serve a second term as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. While the decision to serve an additional year may not have been the easiest choice (thoughts of actually receiving an income prodded my mind constantly) it was equally responsible and wise. Sure the dwindling job market and suffering economy played a tremendous role in my decision – especially after several job interviews resulting in a job offered to someone who had three times my experience. But I made my decision based on richer reasons that have little to do with money.

  1. Long-term investment. Serving a second year means an additional education award, which means I can either use it for future school or to pay off loans. A year or two of service partially funds at least four years of school. Not to even mention the loan forbearance and paid interest. Talk about a steady ROI for such a short period of time.
  2. Professional development opportunities. What other job do you know that allots each of its employees at least $150 in training opportunities before they have even established a year at the organization? Very few to none. AmeriCorps VISTA encourages all of its members to seek out professional development opportunities and even pays for us to do so.
  3. Passion for the work. I consider myself lucky to serve with AmeriCorps simply because I love working with social service organizations and intend to stay in this field of work in the future. By committing to a second term with a different nonprofit, I am widening my perspectives about the operational and organizational structure of nonprofits.
  4. Career building and networking. Since I intend to continue working in nonprofits after my term of service, I am seeking out every opportunity to network and build my career. I was just getting my feet wet and establishing my position in my first term. Now I consciously network and build relationships with other professionals as an effort to best position and market myself for the future. Also, if anything, serving two terms with AmeriCorps only increases my chances as being taken seriously as a devoted nonprofit employee.
  5. Proving myself wrong. My first year of service is what many call a character-building year. For the most part, I did not enjoy my year much, and often felt the VISTAs in my office were being used as cheap labor. I figured this could not possibly be the case for all organizations, and was determined to prove myself wrong by making my second term much better than the first.

I understand that most do not choose to serve a second term for many reasons. However, even on my worst days, I am glad I took the plunge again. On those days, I remind myself that a year is a short commitment and, if anything, this is a huge learning experience from which I will walk away as a stronger, more educated and informed citizen.

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