When I graduated from college, I had a multitude of questions. The most prevalent being “What’s next?” I knew I wanted to make a difference in the world and to do something atypical. I scanned the AmeriCorps website and stumbled across City Year. The achievement gap was something I had heard about but had never really given much thought. I knew this was my opportunity. I applied directly to Milwaukee because it was the closest site to where my family lives, and I thought I could make the most profound impact there.
When I moved to Milwaukee in July of 2015 I had no idea what to expect. I had lived in Wisconsin for 17 years but only ventured to Milwaukee for the occasional Brewers baseball game or Milwaukee Art Museum field trip. Looking back, I am a little embarrassed by how little I knew about Milwaukee. I wish I had known just how vibrant the city is, from its diverse restaurant scene to its revitalized brewery venues. No place better captures these aspects than my favorite place to meet friends downtown: Old World 3rd St.
If there’s one piece of advice I would pass on to future AmeriCorps members, it would be to utilize the packing list and other preparation guides! There are so many things that I forgot to bring (like an umbrella) that I had to pay for out of pocket because I didn’t plan ahead.
Don’t be like me and get caught in the rain looking like a fool! I’d also highly suggest taking the pre-reading curriculum seriously. I learned quite a bit about the Milwaukee and the state of education in America’s major cities that I was able to utilize throughout my service year.
As an AmeriCorps member, I was impressed by the amount of support we received. Things like energy assistance, food stamps, free bus pass, significantly reduced bike pass, health insurance, and university partnerships were all at my disposal when I moved to Milwaukee and began working with City Year.
City Year has a lot of resources to make sure you are set up for success for your next chapter, Leadership After City Year (LACY). Things such as reduced cost for Kaplan test preparation, resume and cover letter writing workshops, job shadowing opportunities, and partnership with Deloitte consulting are just some of the LACY resources available to us. The year can be extremely busy and taxing, but taking advantage of these resources can make your next steps quite a bit more manageable.
In terms of service, it’s difficult to choose the most rewarding part when you are “in the thick of it.” The days can feel long and waking up can be hard. Ultimately, however, knowing that you have a classroom full of students who are counting on you and looking forward to seeing you every day makes it all worth it. As cliché as it sounds, it’s true.