I had never heard of AmeriCorps before happening upon the posting for Rebuilding Together Southeast Michigan. I was working at a mortgage company, a position I took out of college, and I knew that I needed to make a change. I was unhappy with the work that I was doing, it was monotonous, boring, unchallenging. I envisioned myself 5, 10 years down the line, completely unsatisfied with my professional life. When I saw the posting for Outreach Coordinator here at RTSEM, I thought that this was the perfect opportunity for me. A 10.5-month program, it would allow me to explore and industry while I still had the time and flexibility to take such a position.
Reader, I am incredibly thankful to have had this opportunity. Taking this AmeriCorps position was the best professional decision I could have made for myself. It has helped me refocus on myself, and to really evaluate what I want out of a career.
The experience of being an AmeriCorps member is very unique. There are certain restrictions of what we can and cannot do while we are on the clock, and we must always be mindful of them. However, the most unique and wonderful thing about the position is the new experiences and people that I have come across during my service term.
It started in August in Washington D.C, where orientation and training for all of the Rebuilding Together AmeriCorps members from across the country took place. They put us up in a hostel in downtown DC. While I had been to our nation’s capital in the past, I had never experienced it quite like that week. I went to neighborhoods I had not had the opportunity to visit in past trips, I walked around aimlessly, taking in the sights and sounds of the city.
While we were in the city, we had the opportunity to work on homes together as AmeriCorps members. This was by far the best part of the trip. Coming together with all of my fellow service members, it was an unforgettable experience. I met folks I never would have had the opportunity to meet otherwise, and I can say now that I have friends all across the country now, in Baltimore, Seattle, San Jose, you name it. That is perhaps the most wonderful thing about being an AmeriCorps member, it affords you the opportunity to meet new people and go to new places, people and places you may never have come across otherwise.
We had another chance to go somewhere new in January of 2019 when for MLK week we came together with our fellow AmeriCorps members once again for a week of service in New Orleans. While I had been to New Orleans previously, much like DC this was a whole new experience for me. During the week, we worked on a house in the St. Roche neighborhood of the city, building a wheelchair ramp for a disabled man. It was an incredible week, I got to see all of the friends I had made in August, I poured my first concrete slab, and I learned about one of the most vibrant and unique cities in the world.
If you are considering taking an AmeriCorps position, I cannot recommend highly enough that you do. I hope I have highlighted some of the amazing opportunities you will have as an AmeriCorps member. The one thing I have left out thus far is the co-workers. Perhaps I have just lucked out in this department, however, the reason that my service term has been so enjoyable is because of the people I see every day at the office. Without them, perhaps my experiences would be different, with them it has been revelatory.