Supporting Your Pre-Service Experience
In 2016, catastrophic floods impacted thousands of people across the state of Louisiana, including Tyler Aitken. At the time, Tyler was serving as a first-year AmeriCorps member with City Year Baton Rouge, and many of his personal items had been irreparably damaged. City Year Baton Rouge staff banded together to buy him clothes and food and to help find him a new, safe place to stay. This level of care and support, he says, is one of the many factors that kept him tied to the organization.
In 2017, Tyler decided to return to serve a second year, this time as a Team Leader who supports and coaches first-year AmeriCorps members as they interact with, learn from and support students and teachers. In 2018, Tyler joined City Year Headquarters’ recruitment department and currently serves in a newly created position—a Service Year Adviser.
Application and registration support at City Year
Service Year Advisers guide incoming and confirmed AmeriCorps members through their journeys from accepting the offer to serve to registration. And because service looks different across our 29 sites, each service year adviser takes a localized approach to their work. But no matter which site a Service Year Adviser serves, their role is integral in fostering community and providing the tools and resources needed to ensure that young adults are prepared for service.
“I want the people who are moving through this process to feel the same level of support that I did when I served,” Tyler says. “Incoming AmeriCorps members should feel prepared and confident about their decision to serve, and I’m here to help with that.”
Here are just a few ways Tyler says a Service Year Adviser can help you:
Deciding to serve with City Year
Accepting your offer to serve with City Year is a big decision, and we want applicants to feel informed and knowledgeable about City Year as an organization. As a Service Year Adviser, I lead a webinar that is essentially a City Year 101 course. It’s designed to help applicants get a baseline understanding of City Year’s mission, values and culture. We want people to understand that service is a big commitment, and we want them to have all the information necessary to make that commitment.
Once an applicant is prepared to apply, we want to ensure that they’re successful in the interview process, too. For many, this may be their first time going through this process so, we want to support them as much as possible in that.
We give tips on highlighting personal and professional experiences that will speak the competencies we’re looking for in candidates, such as empathy, teamwork and a growth mindset—a belief that mistakes and failures are assets that help us to progress. We go over common interview questions and basic interview etiquette.
The great thing about the pre-interview webinar is that it can be used for any job interview. And if a candidate feels they need additional support to be successful, we can schedule one-on-one interview prep sessions with them.
In-Depth Look at Service and Building Community
Once you have gone through the interview process and accepted the invitation to serve, we officially welcome you to your site and start with engaging with you in a different way. At this point, my role as Service Year Adviser essentially turns into incoming-corps member liaison. As a Confirmed AmeriCorps member, you will have more engagement with site staff, and we’ll start to prepare you for service.
It’s important to remember that each site is different, so prep will depend on where you’ll be serving.
As a baseline, we start with a “Welcome to Your Site” webinar. Incoming corps members get to meet staff and learn a little more about their specific site. From there, we might spotlight currently serving AmeriCorps members by showcasing a “Day in the Life” vlog. We’ll also do “School Spotlights,” where we take a deeper look at the schools where AmeriCorps members serve and do virtual City Year office tours. This part of the process is meant to get folks excited for service and to help build community.
This is also where we start familiarizing confirmed corps members with what service actually entails. We provide resources and lead webinars on lesson planning, building relationships with students, and the importance of social-emotional skill building in addition to academic support. As a City Year AmeriCorps alum with some teaching experience, I can always pull in additional resources if someone feels they need or want more.
Transitioning to service and registration
Relocation to a new city is often a major concern for AmeriCorps members, so if you are moving, we start supporting you as it gets closer to your start date. The main way we do this is by sharing information about potential neighborhoods, housing price ranges and through something we call Roommate Week. This is where I host a “speed dating” event for corps members searching for roommates. Finding a roommate you’re compatible with is really important because the last thing anyone wants during a challenging year of service is roommate troubles! In addition to these kind of events, City Year also offers relocation support to eligible AmeriCorps members.
Finally, we help sites and corps members with the registration process. This is where you’re finally introduced to all the site staff and fill out all the important paperwork needed to start service. We host a pre-registration webinar to ensure everyone is prepared with the proper documents and information for registration day.
This is where we fully pass the torch to individual sites as AmeriCorps members start their service!
Ready to start your application journey? Click here to learn more or start your City Year application:
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