I served two terms with Habitat AmeriCorps--one as a Repair Program Development VISTA at an affiliate and my second as a Member Development and Networking VISTA at Habitat for Humanity International. I found my experiences with Habitat AmeriCorps to be very rewarding and a great opportunity for my personal and professional growth. During my first term, I really enjoyed learning about innovative housing options while developing essential skills including community outreach, social media management, grant writing and reporting, working with local news outlets, and event planning. All that while developing physical building/construction skills on active build sites! In my second term, I have enjoyed continuing to expand my professional skills by researching and reporting on member development programs, building surveys, and planning and running virtual events.
Overall, the Habitat and AmeriCorps communities are wonderful! Everyone I have had the pleasure of working with has been committed to my learning and making me feel valued as part of the team. Being on the ground with families and working with them to (re)build their homes is a rewarding experience and it is something I plan on continuing to do throughout my life, no matter where my career takes me. My terms with AmeriCorps have helped me learn how nonprofits function and contributed to my ongoing reflections on what I want to do with my life--specifically how I want to give back to the communities that I am a part of.
I know that I could not have possibly had these experiences with a 'typical' job, and that's what makes AmeriCorps a special program. I was given responsibilities and the opportunity to grow into them that I would not have received in a different setting, and I'm grateful for that experience and chance to contribute to meaningful work.
What I wish was different
I started service during the COVID pandemic and continued throughout the ups and downs of the pandemic, which limited in-person and community collaboration. Hopefully AmeriCorps service will shift back to 'normal' for future cohorts to make for an even more enriching service experience.
Consider the benefits and develop a plan for living on the AmeriCorps stipend. While it isn't much, the stipend is enough to live on when done correctly. Don't be scared off by this advice because there is plenty of support available to service members!
If you feel called to serve a year I highly encourage you to try it out! The program does have a term limit, so if you don't absolutely love it, the term is only 10-12 months.
Be willing to learn and try new things out! There are plenty of opportunities to grow and even move to a new place in the US, or stay where you are and give back to your local community.
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U.S. Government Relations Intern
June - August 2019 • Washington, DC
What I liked
I loved the friendly, down-to-earth staff, and the wonderful work I was contributing to! As a U.S. Government Relations Intern for Habitat for Humanity International, I worked on various projects that helped produce tools and resources that progressed advocacy efforts to achieve affordable and adequate housing, and raised greater awareness on the severity of the housing crisis, an issue I care very much about. As an intern, I also attended meetings and hearings on Capitol Hill, and was able to see Members of Congress, such as members of the Squad, I never expected to be in front of. This internship undoubtedly reinforced my passion and interest in advocating for affordable housing. Being exposed to the greater Habitat network also reminded me of why I love non-profits and community service. The hard work the staff puts into what they do and the good they are doing for the world, and for the people who need it, was so heart-warming. However, I wouldn't have been able to have this unique internship experience while also gaining more insight into the politics behind legislation if it weren't for the UCDC Program. I highly recommend the UCDC Program
What I wish was different
Seize every opportunity and be open-minded! Say "Yes" to events you might not be interested in at first, because you never know what you might learn! Through the UCDC program, I was able to attend networking events, public service fairs, and graduate school expos, but initially this was not part of the plan. I simply agreed to go with a friend and every time, walked away with new knowledge that widened my eyes or realized that grad school was an option for me, something I thought wasn't possible due to my socioeconomic status. Even participating in the UCDC Program was not something I originally had in mind, but I gained a monumental experience I will carry with me for years to come.