It’s awesome, what else can I say? There are so many personal and professional benefits of doing AmeriCorps at some point during or after your college career. Many think that it’s only purpose is to give you an extended window of time to figure or which direction you see yourself going in. And yes while it might do that, that is not the primary benefit of the experience. Learning home repair and construction skills was my initial expectations of the program, but now having completed my term I know now that AmeriCorps was another tool just like college to help catapult my way into the real world.
During a normal day, my team would endure time management practice with being to work every morning at 7:30am, team dynamic roles and working effectively with varying personalities, and effective communication of the tasks that needed to be completed for a day. College is suppose to prepare you educationally for a professional career of your choice. But how can it prepare you entirely, when you get to make your own class schedule, take naps between classes, and you don’t even have to prepare your own meals?! That is not the real world. AmeriCorps was hard work and a regiment routine, working full days doing insulation on 85% humidity days or landscaping on 95 degree days. It gave me a different perspective than college did and it definitely kicked my butt into gear with reality.
The program was also great because my AmeriCorps team was comprised of people from all over the country and locally to New Jersey. We had people from Texas, New York, Virginia, Florida, Chicago, and Maryland all come to the same place to work and live together. Not only did you work with your team, we lived with our team, something that definitely prepares you for working with others in your career. Of course in college you are assigned group projects to mimic working in groups in the professional world, but after that group project is over and you get the grade, you never have to work or talk with those students again. That’s not the case with AmeriCorps or the real world. There if you don’t function effectively as a group or team, it needs to be resolved because those are your long term co-workers and not some students you might not have another class with.
Essentially, AmeriCorps gives you the hands-on experience that a lot of college lacks. You learn essential skills like volunteer management, leadership, conflict resolution, home repair, safety, time management, all while volunteering and serving a community who needs it. It is truly a humbling experience, where you can develop yourself as a person after having the experience of college.