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(October 23, 2007) My multi-year post-graduation job search has finally come to an end. My anything-but-inspiring craigslist searching and brief moments on job boards proved to be fruitless. It was through my own network and community that I found, interviewed, and took my new job. Finally.

And, it is a position with AmeriCorps.

Technically speaking, this not a job, but a term of service. It initially ended up in my inbox, where it was overlooked-there was no way I was going to sign up for more volunteering and little paying work. A few weeks later, with the relentless efforts of a close friend, I responded to the email and sent along a cover letter and resumé to the hiring contact. The surface reasons for finally responding were a) I had nothing to loose and b) my friend convincedme that working for and with this woman would be worth the (very small) stipend.

Other motivations came into play in my final decision to give AmeriCorps a second thought. I was turned down for several jobs (in the non-profit program assistant sort of vein) for being overqualified. Now, maybe this was just a nice way of putting me down because they found someone more qualified. But, taking the rejections at face value, the facts are that I am overqualified to be a program assistant and underqualified to be a program director or manager.

One of these organizations felt I was too social to do research, administrative work, and office-oriented tasks. Another felt that retention would be an issue because I would be easily bored. No one was willing to offer me the experience necessary for me to move up into a higher position.

Where does that leave me?

From the AmeriCorps website:
Becoming an AmeriCorps member enables you to do great things for your community while you grow as an individual and attain tangible benefits. Get an Education, Experience, and Skills

Put your idealism to work through AmeriCorps. Make a community safer. Help a child receive a meaningful education. Protect the environment. Whatever your interest, there is an AmeriCorps program that needs your courage, your skills, and your dedication.

You will learn teamwork, communication, responsibility, and other essential skills that will help you for the rest of your life. And you'll gain the personal satisfaction of taking on a challenge and seeing results.

Are you up to the challenge?
You Decide Where and How to Serve

Each year, more than 70,000 AmeriCorps members serve with programs in every state. You can serve in your own community or far away from home. There are hundreds of ways to serve, including
    * Tutoring and mentoring youth
    * Building new homes for families
    * Responding to natural disasters
    * Restoring parks and coastlines
    * Helping families of domestic violence
You might do the work yourself, be a part of a team, or help others serve by organizing projects and recruiting volunteers. Whatever you do, there's an AmeriCorps challenge just waiting for you.
And of the benefits:
You Will Be Able to Pay Your Bills

Many AmeriCorps members receive a modest living allowance. You will not get rich from it, but most AmeriCorps members have found that it covers their basic expenses.

Help with College Costs and Student Loans
Congress established the National Service Trust to provide an AmeriCorps Education Award for members who successfully complete service in AmeriCorps. You can use your AmeriCorps Education Award to pay educational expenses at qualified institutions of higher education, for educational training, or to repay qualified student loans. The award - recently renamed the Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards after Eli Segal, one of the pioneers of the national service movement and the first CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service - is $4,725 for a year of full-time service, and is prorated for part-time. You have up to seven years after your term of service has ended to claim the award.

At the time you use the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, you must have received a high school diploma, or the equivalent of such a diploma.

If you successfully completed a term of service with AmeriCorps*VISTA in an approved national service position, you are eligible to receive either a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award or an end-of-service stipend of $1,200. The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award option is subject to available National Service Trust allocations to AmeriCorps*VISTA and must have been selected prior to the start of service

Work and Life Skills
As an AmeriCorps member, you will gain valuable experience in an area that interests you that can translate directly into job experience in your chosen field. You will learn teamwork, communication, responsibility, and other essential skills that will help you for the rest of your life while gaining the personal satisfaction of taking on a challenge and seeing results. Many find their AmeriCorps year to provide them with more experience and skills than they would have gotten in a traditional, paying job.
For recruiters, hiring mangers and human resource folks, it begs the question: how can you create, shape and sell your positions like AmeriCorp? The above are what many job-searching young (and older) people are looking for-A clear statement about the purpose and benefits of working for this organization and how one can apply what they already know and do to hit the ground running.

If you can answer that question, you can get passionate, committed, excited people on your team. And that is your challenge.

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