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By: Shayla Thiel Stern

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5 Reasons Why AmeriCorps is a Great Career Pivot

AmeriCorps members in Math Corps and LEPCA

Maybe you’ve been working a corporate job for a few years now, and you’re feeling like you aren’t making a big enough difference in the world.

Perhaps you have spent years as a stay-at-home parent, spending all your hours parenting and volunteering in your kids’ school, but now you’re thinking about re-entering the workforce.

You might be in your late 50s or early 60s, and ready to retire or do something that allows you to “give back,” but you are not ready to give up your health insurance.

Maybe you’re just thinking about what’s next in your career and life, and you’re not sure how to move into that next chapter.

These are all perfect scenarios for a person who should make a career pivot. And AmeriCorps service is a great option for a person considering a career pivot.

What is AmeriCorps?

AmeriCorps is the United States’ system for people to serve communities across the country — from classrooms to the outdoors to everything in between. In AmeriCorps, you can learn and apply new skills as you give back to your community, state and country through public service. Since its creation in 1994, more than a million people have served in AmeriCorps. People who join AmeriCorps (called “members”) provide direct service in the areas of education, disaster services, economic opportunity and community building, environmental stewardship, healthy futures and more.

5 Reasons to Join AmeriCorps to Help You Pivot

  1. Time for Reflection. Serving a year or two (or more) in AmeriCorps can give you time to reflect and learn. You might tutor and mentor young people or serve to save the environment. The time you will spend, while tiring, will often inspire you to see how you can shape the future – and how you can collaborate with the people you’re serving to make the world better. AmeriCorps positions and programs vary greatly, and you can learn new skills while applying your existing knowledge and experience to new situations that you encounter while serving.
  2. New Skills. You can pick up new skills through your AmeriCorps service. All programs train members in their respective service areas – whether tutoring young children or using a chainsaw to remove invasive buckthorn – and some even offer professional certifications. For example, a new program from Minnesota Reading Corps offers a Child Development Associate (CDA) certification for reading tutors; the certification usually costs $2,500, but is being offered for free to AmeriCorps members in the program.  
  3. New Networks. Many AmeriCorps programs are based in non-profit organizations, and members often learn about how those organizations work. If you are based at a non-profit, you will report to a manager at the site who can recommend you for a full-time job after your service is complete, or hire you to stay as an employee at the organization. Additionally, many of the nonprofit organizations or schools where you serve are connected to other organizations – from the public service sector to the government to education and beyond – and your service can provide you with invaluable connections. (Here are two previous stories about AmeriCorps members moving into the nonprofit sector after their service was complete: Mayank Gupta and Esteban Rodriquez-Hefty. Here is a story about a former Reading Corps member who now holds state office.)
  4. Career Coaching.  Minnesota AmeriCorps members are now offered career coaching through the Design Your Life program to help them map a variety of career trajectories that all build upon your skills and your passion. Design Your Life, which was created by Stanford professors specializing in design thinking, is especially great for people planning to make a career pivot.
  5. You Aren’t Just a Volunteer and You Can Get Healthcare. Full-time AmeriCorps members receive health benefits and a cost-of-living allowance, so you would not have to give up income and healthcare. You can also put off paying your students loans during the time you serve in AmeriCorps. Thinking about going to graduate school? AmeriCorps members receive an education award to fund college education.

Learn More About How to Get Involved

Do you want to learn more about how AmeriCorps service can be the next step in your career and life? You can learn more about the many programs seeking AmeriCorps service members, and you can fill out this form so that we can see what most interests you and respond.

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