Alternative post-grad option: Year-long service opportunities

Megan Hays, Staff Writer

 

Panelists from three different service organizations visited the University on Oct. 19 to discuss year-long service opportunities offered to recent college graduates. Representatives from the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and City Year, a non-profit community service organization that helps students in low-income areas succeed academically, attended the panel.

The panelists discussed an alternative approach to life post-graduation that allows volunteers to facilitate positive change in the world while gaining a valuable skill set for their professional careers.

Panelist Nicole Kennedy ’09 discussed the value of service trips.

“Doing a year of service is a great way for a young person to gain skills that are transferable to any profession,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy, along with the other panelists, emphasized the benefits that stem from engaging in a year or more of service after graduation.

“You receive a ton of professional development and leadership training, and we find that employers are much more likely to hire someone who has done a year of service than someone who has not,” Kennedy said.

The panelists also commented on the positive impact that the volunteers have on the communities they help, and the mutually beneficial impact that the communities have on the volunteer.

Panelist Kelsey Mills ’10 told her story of working in the Peace Corps and the nature of assessing communities to figure out their needs for growth and development.

“Work yourself out of your job in service,” Mills said.

Mills felt excited after realizing that the community she was helping no longer needed her, and noted that as the moment when she knew she had succeeded at her service.

City Year Regional Recruitment Director for the Mid-Atlantic Joe Staszak explained that he did not know he wanted to join a service organization until he saw the changes firsthand that could be made through service and the huge impact that could be had on communities.

Assistant Director of Service Learning at the University Kyle Bray spoke about his transformative experience throughout his years of service under AmeriCorps. He discussed how his service career caused him to change paths from an undergraduate major in journalism to a graduate school focus on civic engagement.

“This panel helped me to see how I could grow and learn from participating in the programs. It showed me the benefits and opportunities I could gain, and lifelong skills I can take with me in my future endeavors,” Olivia Benson ’19 said.

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