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Tips and tricks for a great application

An AmeriCorps member looks ahead at the city skyline.

As a recruiter who connects with young people across the country who are interested in becoming City Year AmeriCorps members, I find a lot of people have some of the same questions about what makes a great application.

How do I make my application stand out?

One way to make your application pop out of a stack of many, is through an authentic demonstration of what you have learned from your unique experiences. Building relationships with students is at the heart of City Year’s work and you can’t do that without being genuine. We want to get to know who you are, not just what you’ve done. Merely sharing what you’ve accomplished isn’t enough to convey that you’d be a great AmeriCorps member. Show us what you learned and gained from your experiences, and how they will inform your actions while you’re an AmeriCorps member. That’s how we can see that you’ll positively impact your students, teammates, school and community.

Who should I ask to be my reference?

For starters, not your family members or close friends (although we know they’re great people).  We want to hear about your ability to be a strong AmeriCorps member from people that can speak to your leadership ability, your skills working with children/youth, and your capacity to grow.

What makes City Year unique is our team-based work, how we leverage “near-peer” relationships for student success, our idealistic culture, and your commitment to working full-time. Find the people that can highlight your achievements in those dimensions and ask them for a recommendation. Some examples of who can be a great recommender are: a work supervisor (your boss), your volunteering supervisor, a clergy member, a teacher or professor, a guidance or career counselor, or a coach!

PROTIP: You can submit your application before identifying who your reference is. You will, however, have to identify your reference before City Year can issue you an official offer.

Where will I end up doing my City Year?

At City Year, you can decide where you serve. Your location preferences are very important to us throughout your admissions process. In addition to asking for your top location choice, we also want to know what other sites may interest you. If your first choice is unavailable for some reason, we will then seek alternative locations for your consideration using the locations you provide.

How do I choose the right location for me?

While the work you’ll do during your City Year is relatively consistent, the experience varies by geographic region, school district, and corps size. Choosing the right city for you means getting at the essence of why you’re interested in City Year and what you value. Is it important to be near home? Do you want to relocate to a city where you plan on attending school or working afterwards? Is public transportation necessary for you? If you’re deciding between different cities, talk to a recruiter near you to weigh your options and gain insight about each site you may be interested in. A recruiter can help you make the most informed decision.

Wherever you chose to serve, and whoever writes a recommendation for you, choosing to apply to City Year is choosing to take a step forward in your future and a step towards making a difference. The sooner you apply though, the sooner you can start making plans for next year!

Editorial Note: This post was updated on September 12, 2018 in order to share up-to-date information regarding our application form and process.

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