How to Join AmeriCorps In 5 Steps
1. Set An Intention
What do you want to get out of your AmeriCorps participation? Community service, professional experience and development of life skills are just a few of reasons that might be drawing you to a year of service. Once you’ve set your goal to serve, you need to do your research. There are several types of programs and service areas actively serving communities in over 60,000 locations across the country. In finding the right opportunities to apply to, it’s important to know where you want to work (urban vs rural), what kind of service you want to do (direct service vs indirect service) and the issue areas that excite you. We can help guide you through this application process. Sign up for a one-on-one session today with our NGS guides, most of whom have served a year (or more) in an AmeriCorps program.
2. My AmeriCorps Application
Navigate to the My AmeriCorps site, and select “apply to serve.” From here, you will create a profile and begin your application. The application process is similar to a “common app” for applying to university and allows you to apply to opportunities across a variety of nonprofit organizations in the AmeriCorps network. You will provide information on any past community service and work experience, a personal essay and letters of recommendation. This is a job application and should be treated as such, but it is also imperative that your application as a whole answers the question: Why do I feel called to service?
3. Apply to the Max Positions
Your My AmeriCorps application can be submitted to as many as 10 positions at a time. As positions are filled on a rolling basis, you will receive application status notifications. Do not take rejection too personally. Just trust that you were not a great fit for the program. I highly recommend submitting your application to the maximum of 10 positions at a time even if some of the positions fall outside your primary interests. If the organization is working on issues you care about, submit your application. You may get a first round interview, and this will give you a better sense of fit with the organization. Remember, you will be working at an organization with multiple projects and plenty of need for leaders. There are often opportunities to make contributions to the organization’s mission beyond your stated role. Whether you enjoy your experience is heavily dependent upon your connection with individuals in the organization, so give yourself an opportunity to get on the phone or face-to-face with potential supervisors and colleagues.
4. Reach Out
With My AmeriCorps you are using a standardized application, which does not always give you an opportunity to describe your qualifications for a specific position. A great way to work around the limitations of the application is to reach out to the contact listed on the AmeriCorps position posting (see side bar in My AmeriCorps), and make yourself known as a strongly interested applicant. Some programs will respond with their own additional set of application questions or give you an opportunity to write 1-2 paragraphs (like a cover letter) explaining why you would be a great fit for the role.
Again, as with any job application, accept that you might not get the role. Some AmeriCorps programs, like VISTA, are more competitive based on the sheer number of applicants for certain locations or other factors. However, there are plenty of smaller, lesser-known programs across the country that have unfilled positions. If you are passionate about being of service and learning new skills, be patient and there will be opportunities for you. Undertaking national service is having the courage to tackle challenges and build a better future for our country, so don’t give up!
Writen by Anna Lenhart
Edited by Nicole Campbell
Photo Credit: http://magazine.outdoornebraska.gov/