When I first started at City Year, I was very excited, nervous, anxious, and eager to start my year as an AmeriCorps member. I felt a little uncertainty walking into this experience with unanswered questions like: Will I be good at this? Will my students like me? How will I fit in on my team? I assure you, all these feelings are normal.  

Not only were all these questions answered for me during my first year of service, I decided to come back and serve as a Team Leader because of the great experience I had. The City Year Philadelphia family welcomed me and helped me through the whole process starting with Basic Training Academy. As a member of your new City Year family, I offer you the words of wisdom below to help you start strong and continue to have a powerful year of service.  

1. Come into this experience with an open heart and an open mind. 
Starting this year with an open and excited mentality is the first way to have a great year. So many new people to meet, so much City Year culture and history to learn, it’s exciting! Start your year knowing that you have a full team to support you every step of the way!  

2. Ask for help when needed. No judgment. 
When starting something new, asking questions and asking for help is always important.  Embrace what you don't know and ask someone for assistance. When it comes to your service or living in Philadelphia, staff, Team Leaders, Second Year Corps Members and your peers are all a wealth of knowledge.  

3. Always put your best foot forward. 
Although this might be very new for you and sometimes out of your comfort zone, always challenge yourself to bring your best. Stretching yourself to be your best outside of what is familiar will benefit your teammates, your school, and your students.  

4. Be real, be YOU. 
You were chosen to be a part of City Year for a reason. Utilize your skills and talents along the way and take the time to think about the new ones you want to learn. Remember why you are here and the goals you are personally hoping to accomplish.  

5. Get organized. Planning and timing are important. 
Using an agenda book, setting reminders on your phone, using your outlook calendar, f
igure out what methods work for you. When there are so many impactful ways you can make a difference, learning how to plan your time will be the holy grail for setting you up to have a great year. 

6. Check your City Year email daily. 
Although it is important to be present in the classroom, take the time to check in on what is going on in the larger City Year universe outside of your school. So many important things get communicated via email.  From event logistics and service requirements to site-wide newsletters, and new blog posts. If you want to know what’s going on, email is where it is at.  

7. Work and communicate with your team.  
Teamwork is the number one thing that will make your year successful and multiply your positive impact in your school. Getting to know each other early on in the game helps you build strong working relationships with those you will be serving with. Your team’s support is what will make a hard day easier and a good day great. The friendships you develop will also extend beyond this year.

8. Trust the process. 
This is something that we say a lot at City Year, but it is easier to say than do. Something might not click right away. A student might not like you in the beginning. You might not understand the "why" behind a lot of City Year’s practices, but trusting the process makes it easier. I have seen the process work firsthand. It WILL work; you just need to trust it.  

Written by Zakiyah Ingram, City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorpsTeam Leader

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