Five career tools gained through City Year service
My AmeriCorps member experience at City Year went beyond what I learned in the schoolhouse. I served with City Year Orlando as a student success coach during the 2021-2022 school year and over that time, I found my identity as a mentor, tutor and youth advocate. As a young professional, I have also been able to develop and hone key skills while working with students.
It’s this double bottom line return-on-investment that City Year offers, the development of both our students and ourselves as corps members, that I have found truly unique about the City Year experience. Here are five necessary tools for success I was able to develop as a corps member that have helped me enter the professional world confidently, with a clearer sense of who I am and the strengths I bring with me into a workplace.
Building your resume and cover letter
AmeriCorps members can accomplish many things throughout service, from supporting students as they improve their academic skills and test scores to creating school-wide initiatives that engage hundreds of students and help to enhance school culture and climate. It can be difficult to succinctly and accurately describe our service on paper.
Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone! At your site, you are surrounded by a network of your teammates and City Year staff who can help you articulate your experience in a resume, online portfolio, or cover letter. Whether you’re starting from scratch or just need help with editing, City Year staff can help ensure that your job application materials are up to date, accurate and ready to be sent off to any opportunity that comes your way!
Leaning outside your comfort zone by networking
Networking can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before!
Networking is all about listening and learning from other people or the group you’re speaking with. Some City Year sites can help equip corps members with the tools to go into any networking setting feeling confident and comfortable.
I experienced my first networking event through City Year Orlando’s Red Jacket Networking. At this event, school sponsors, board members and community leaders are invited to engage with the corps.
I was initially very nervous about networking, but City Year staff helped put my mind at ease by helping me create an elevator pitch, set my goals and think of questions to ask networking partners. I had a blast and I was able to make connections with people I still stay in touch with to this day!
How to talk about your City Year experience through mock job interviews
Job interviews can feel nerve-wracking and uncomfortable so practicing some potential talking points is important. Many City Year sites host mock interviews for AmeriCorps members to expose you to commonly asked questions and scenarios. The goal of a mock interview is to build the confidence to tell your story in a way that’s impactful and makes sense for the job that you’re applying for.
Capitalizing on transferable skills you strengthened during service
City Year helps you develop a number of transferable skills that are essential to success for any career path.
My team invited a City Year Orlando staff member to host an Excel training. After the training, we became more comfortable with Excel and started incorporating the program into our daily work, such as planning events for our school and students.
Did you know that in addition to City Year AmeriCorps members strengthening skills such as Excel, data analysis, logistics and event planning, City Year also cultivates essential social-emotional competencies that are in high demand by employers? These include many of the same skills we prioritize with our students: communication, teamwork, problem solving and self-awareness.
As City Year AmeriCorps members, we serve on teams that must collaborate in various spaces, which can include afterschool programming and school-wide initiatives. On top of working with our own students, there can be a lot of projects to juggle. It became clear to my team that we needed to create a system to make sure nothing was slipping through the cracks.
For us, that meant preparing thoughtful updates during team meetings and sharing a project’s progress and where we needed support. Growing these skills took time, but it was comforting to know that I had my site and teammates to support me.
Growing as a leader with City Year
At City Year we love to challenge our students to be a leader in the classroom and in the school. City Year staff challenges their corps members in the same way! Whether it’s leading training sessions or a project at your school, City Year offers you the opportunity to hone your ability to become a leader.
City Year Orlando hosts “Team Takeovers” throughout the year, which gives AmeriCorps members an hour to showcase their team culture with the rest of the corps. This was a fun experience that took a lot of careful preparations to get ready. I had a great opportunity to improve my public speaking and event planning skills in a safe and fun environment.
I feel confident that I have been equipped with the tools that are necessary for success in any workplace environment and I look forward to my next opportunity. My year serving with City Year was an amazing time where I learned to push myself out of my comfort zone while having a support system behind me every step of the way.
Interested in learning more about serving with City Year? Apply now!
Sam Justice, City Year Orlando ‘22, is a national marketing and communications summer associate at City Year HQ.
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