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Adding National Service to Your Resume: What Can AmeriCorps Do for You?

by Sarah B.

It’s not a secret: Millennials are having a tough time finding jobs.  If you’re about to graduate in May, unemployed because of the economy, or looking to make a career switch, have you considered national service? My time in AmeriCorps taught me a lot, and it helped launch my career in the nonprofit world.  National service can help you:

Get things done for America.

It’s the first line of the AmeriCorps pledge, but it’s true.  AmeriCorps members are all over the country, working in programs that are improving American communities.  There are members who focus on poverty, education, the environment, public health, and other important issues.  Whatever your interests, your work is guaranteed to contribute both short term and long term assistance to the community in which you serve.  It’s your chance to do something every day that makes your community stronger.  (And who doesn’t want to feel like their work is making an impact?)


flickr photo by St. Bernard Project


Develop new transferable career skills

National service will challenge you to work in a team to solve problems.  You might have the chance to develop and implement a new program.  You’ll probably get an opportunity to practice your public speaking skills or learn how to tell others about why your program is important.  You’ll learn a lot about public policies that affect the issues you care about, and you’ll learn how many people and organizations have to work together to really change or improve a community.  If you’re interested in a nonprofit career, you might learn information about how to manage volunteers, raise funds, or plan an event.  You’ll be exposed to people and communities who are different than you, and you’ll learn how to work with them to understand their needs.  Whatever you pursue at the end of your service, you’ll always be able to answer those “tell me about a time when…” behavioral job interview questions.

Pay for college (or get rid of student debt.)

While you’ll gain valuable experience as a member of an AmeriCorps program, you won’t gain a lot of extra zeros in your bank account.  (But with the amount of credit card debt Millennials are amassing, AmeriCorps will also teach you how to live within your means.)  You’ll receive a living stipend, and for certain programs, you’ll also receive an education award.  You can use the award toward paying for a degree (including an advanced degree) or paying off certain student loans.  For the time that you’re in the program, you also might qualify for forbearance on your current loans.

Part of being an AmeriCorps member is “carrying this commitment with [you] this year and beyond.”  Being an AmeriCorps member created a commitment to service that will be a part of my life forever.  (It’s why I blog about service for MillennialChat!)

If you want to learn more about which AmeriCorps program might be right for you, visit

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Are you a national service program alum?  How did national service benefit your career?
What questions do you have about national service?
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