By Ian Temple, City Year Boston ‘13
I did my research about City Year and knew that it wasn't a traditional pathway to becoming an attorney. However, I was confident that I would have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience before starting law school.
Although I had everything to gain by committing to a year of service, there were still a range of challenges that I had to overcome as a City Year AmeriCorps member. One of the biggest challenges was wondering whether committing a year of service was the wrong step for my career aspirations of becoming an attorney.
Networking as an AmeriCorps Member
As an AmeriCorps member planning to attend law school, I wondered if I should spend my time meeting only lawyers who could give me advice about entering the legal community. However, the opportunities City Year provided gave me the ability to meet people from different careers and occupations, which allowed me to begin building a network–including both lawyers and non-lawyers.
This has proven to be advantageous after my year of service. Upon completing City Year, some members from my team went on to complete law school, medical school, and various teaching programs from the United States all the way to China. Being able to connect with people pursuing careers outside of the legal community was one of the unknown advantages City Year provided and I know it will ultimately lead to various professional developments later in my career.
Understanding Teamwork in New Ways
Despite the great benefit of developing these types of relationships early in your career, the best benefit was that my team was very close-knit. To this day, my team still gets together for weekend outings, dinners, and even a few weddings.
We developed a very tight bond, but it obviously did not start out that way. We had to learn about each other and find our chemistry. Every team has certain role players to help navigate through tough times, and we needed those role players because the work we were doing was difficult and at times very straining. Students, teachers, and even teammates can be difficult to work with at times, but having a common goal to work toward every day gave me the strength to put my best foot forward in all of my endeavors.
Adapting to Challenging Work Environments
Getting accustomed to a new work environment was also a challenge for me. There will always be an adjustment period when transitioning into a new job, new office, or a new position. Though it can be challenging to get used to new systems and procedures, I found it helpful to have this experience under my belt before entering law school–where I would also be tasked to adjust to a new environment with its own systems and procedures as well. Getting accustomed to City Year's environment was no different. Students usually are required to be in school early in the morning, so as City Year AmeriCorps members, we were at school even earlier than the students to greet and prepare them for the day. Once the day is over, we hosted after-school programs to give students the imperative one-on-one and small group tutoring needed to complete their homework and various projects.
In retrospect, I now see how a lot of the challenges I endured throughout City Year can be reoccurring and fairly common whenever journeying onto a new path in life. As I think about the ways I've grown since my year of service, I often take note of the skills I developed during City Year and how they have helped me throughout law school. I am happy I took advantage of the different opportunities City Year provided that not only gave me exposure to the field of law, but also helped me develop mentor relationships that I rely on as I begin preparing for the bar exam. Although giving a year of service with City Year will have many challenges just know that some days are hard, but all days are worth it.
Ian Temple (pictured above speaking at the City Year Boston Legal Community Breakfast) served with City Year Boston from 2012-2013. He is a graduating law student and New England School of Law, and will sit for the Massachusetts Bar Exam in July. Ian hopes to work in a law firm in Boston practicing product liability law.