By Cory Murray
Strategic Partnerships Coordinator – AmeriCorps VISTA
I have traveled a fair amount in my life, moving with my family several times and taking adventurous vacations. This built my internal clock to tell me that once I start feeling comfortable with what I am doing, it’s time to move on.
I had a great fear that graduating college meant picking a single career path and never deviating. Somehow at the age of 22 I was supposed to know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I pictured myself at a large corporation sitting 9-5 at a desk working for the next promotion. Not only did it terrify me to think of being tied down, in my heart I knew I wanted to serve others.
AmeriCorps, specifically at Boston Partners in Education, changed that. I discovered that I simply hadn’t yet discovered something worth sticking around for. This past year I found a career path, my own resourcefulness, and the excitement that I can have a future that doesn’t leave behind my morals and values.
Going into this year, I was totally unfamiliar with what boots-on-the-ground Development looked like at a non-profit. After a year of shadowing co-workers and being hands-on in the details of philanthropic enterprise, I can say that not only do I enjoy Development, I am passionate enough about it to pursue a future in it. Development, at its core, is about relationship building. You become the face of the organization. I really enjoyed interacting with Board members, attending events, and being in classrooms with volunteers and donors. The anticipation of the next day, knowing that each day was different, was appealing.
As the year progressed and I gained more experience in Development, the more I came to realize that this diversity was exactly what my internal clock was looking for. The pace of the day in Development soothed my need to stay challenged and always kept me on my toes. I am applying for Development careers in Boston and cannot wait to learn more, meet more people, and experience different fundraising. I’ve always been a chatty and friendly person, never afraid of the crowd, and experiencing how I could use my personality in my future endeavors was an amazing discovery.
My advice to anyone considering a year in AmeriCorps – do it. Just do it! Joining the workforce so young and expecting to love what you do is silly, but if you join AmeriCorps, you’ll have an entire year to discover more about yourself and about the world around you. The truth is it can be financially challenging working as an AmeriCorps volunteer. Living at the poverty level when you are surrounded by friends who are not takes courage, but it is very manageable if you use all of your resources.
Use your T-pass and sign up for an EBT card. That alone will save you thousands. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. More likely than not, there is some form of assistance for you. Discounted museum entrance pass? Yep. Lower heating costs in the winter? Yes. A half-price gym membership at the YMCA? Definitely. There are so many ways to save money. My year has made me ask more questions, talk to more people, and explore different options than I normally would have. It was eye opening and humbling to see what most Americans have to do to have a sustainable lifestyle and I am thankful to have a better understanding of the community around me.
Finally, I am proud to be an American, and this was a year to serve my country in some small way. I was afraid of beginning a career where I’d have to give up my drive to help others but instead I found this past year gave me the opportunity to realize that my passions will guide my future.
Thank you for a great year, Boston Partners in Education.