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From City Year to Career 

Formulating a L.A.C.Y (or “Life After City Year”) plan is an integral part of the City Year experience. From mentorship to networking opportunities, City Year is dedicated to supporting our AmeriCorps members’ transition from service.

Through the challenge of full-time service, AmeriCorps members refine a myriad of skills and provided them with opportunities that can translate into any career path they choose. We’ve seen it with our alumni network! City Year alumni have gone on to work for companies like Facebook, Deloitte, Bain & Captial, and many more.

Sometimes, their L.A.C.Y plans turn into stay-CY plans, meaning they decide to stay with City Year – either as a second-year corps member, a Team Leader, Service Leader, or a staff member.

We have an alumna who did exactly that! Meet Allison Peters ’17, ’18 and learn more about her journey with City Year Boston, and some words of wisdom she has to offer.

Allison graduated with her undergraduate degree in Political Science and History at the University of Maryland. She struggled to find something that encompassed all her interests because she also really enjoyed the volunteer work she did in urban schools. Then she found City Year Boston. It was a, “truly perfect intersection of all my interests,” says Allison. She believed in the City Year model of near-peer academic and social-emotional student support.

“Being an extra support in the classroom, rather than being the primary instructor, was something that appealed to me because I think it’s really the only way to support and empower the whole student. CYB’s work on the school level and interfacing with parents also drew me in, because I knew that my service would support not just individuals, but their whole schooling experience.”

During her first year, Peters served in a 7th-grade pre-algebra classroom at the Donald McKay K-8 in East Boston.
She entered her service year knowing she would be working a part of a team, but initially, she preferred to work individually. That all changed when she realized that the work, she did with her teammates was better than anything she could do by herself. Working a part of a team isn’t easy or makes the work quicker, but it challenges dominant views points, offers diverse perspectives, and different work styles. “Those difficult team conversations usually resulted in more equitable programs, systems, and support for students – as well as more united collaborators. The biggest takeaway from my corps year was definitely the power of teamwork.”

When her first year of service ended, she felt as though 17,000 hours wasn’t enough to learn and serve all that she wanted. So her L.A.C.Y. plan turned into a stay-CY plan and she decided to return as a Service Leader in 2017 – 2018 with the Boston Civic Engagement team! “At the end of my second corps year, I still felt like I hadn’t done enough and that there was more I could learn about CYB. I was interested in the Development Operations position because, through my time with BCE, I had worked closely with the Development team in interfacing with partners and I respected the work they did in fostering community support for our organization.” 

Civic Engagement (CE) teams are made up of returning AmeriCorps members who plan, prepare, and execute large-scale transformational service events throughout the year. These events may engage corporate, community, and student volunteers benefiting the service partner.

“I spent a lot of time painting murals and building bookshelves, but our work with volunteers allowed me to understand how much people in Boston respect CYB and how we can harness the idealism in the community to provide students with physical spaces that are clean, updated, and representative of their identities.”

Her time with the Boston Civic Engagement (BCE) team also helped her realize that it is important to understand how sponsorship and finances operate in the education and the nonprofit sectors. “I’m glad that my BCE year led me to my two years with Devolpement Operations because I really learned so much about CYB, nonprofit management, and the state of education in Boston.”

This past year she got into Brown University! (Go Bears)

Her four years at CYB influenced her choice in her graduate degree. Through those years she got to witness her peers do incredible work both in the classroom and with community advocates and donors. However, she also saw that their work in pursuing equity in education could be limited without policy and structure that support all learners and communities. This led her to peruse her degree in Education Policy. She wants to help put structure in places that reflect those equitable values City Year Boston advocates for in schools.

“CYB’s values and service has to have the policy support to really make change and I am hoping to help bring those ideas to fruition.”

Although she is no longer on staff, Allison is still very much still a part of the City Year team. She keeps in touch with her teammates from her service year.

“I talk with at least one of my teammates from the McKay or BCE once a day. A service year is emotionally and physically difficult, on top of being time-consuming, so you build bonds with your teammates that last forever. We supported each other through a service year (or two!) and continue to support each other in our lives after City Year.”

She also continues to be kept in the loop with the organization through her current friendships on staff. With events being virtual, she can attend a few of them, like 18-Minute Networking, and she will be attending the Spring into Service event! Once you are a part of City Year, you gain a network for life.

We asked her what her biggest advice to our current AmeriCorps members would be. This is what she told us:
“Network, network, network! I know everybody says this about every job, but you have such a treasure trove of resources available to you as a corps member in the form of CYB staff. The staff is there to support you, so use them to explore your interests and figure out if there is a role that is right for you. They can help support you through the application and interview process too!

Also, a piece of advice I would give to any graduating corps member is to really figure out how you want to talk about your service experience. You have done so much over the past year or two, and it is helpful to consider how you will explain CYB and your role as a corps member to people who may not be familiar with AmeriCorps or City Year. You have endless transferrable skills from your service – so perfect that elevator pitch and you’ll be a serious candidate for any job you apply for in the future!”

SERVING WITH CITY YEAR

A year of service offers you many different skill sets that will transfer to your future careers. If you would like to learn about service with City Year Boston, you can visit this page to learn more.
If you are a current AmeriCorps member and want to make your L.A.C.Y plan into a stay-CY plan, you can apply to return as a Team Leader or Service Leader, like Allison! Applications are due March 29th. Apply today!

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