I've been hesitant to write this post because it signals finality—the end of an intense personal journey that started in early 2010 when I applied to NCCC. Throughout my experience, my team completed many "service learning" activities that encouraged us to take a step back and think about why our projects were important and what each experience meant to us individually. So I feel like this is my final reflection, and that's sort of sad. In many ways though, it's an exciting time for me.
I spent December through March temping at a financial agency downtown. During that time I applied to 70 jobs at non-profits in the Greater Boston area, and interviewed at 11 companies. It's a competitive job market right now, and it was frustrating for me to find out from employers that I was up against 50 to 200 candidates in some cases. For one position I was actually turned down after a second-round interview because the employer felt I was "too enthusiastic." In all seriousness, it's rough out there. Finally, I was offered 2 jobs, and accepted one at a company called Education Development Center, a non-profit research and development organization in Waltham, MA. I started the position last Monday as a full time admin assistant, working on projects associated with the national Head Start program. I also just recently moved into an apartment close to my new office, and have been using the last few months to reconnect with close friends who I missed like crazy during my year away from home.
Joining the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps was one of the best decisions I've ever made for myself. I traveled across areas of the U.S. I would have never otherwise had a reason to visit. My team built trails in Ohio, re-finished a community pool in Iowa, left pre-schoolers in Michigan with fun memories (hopefully imparting some knowledge along the way!) and helped flood victims in North Dakota rebuild their lives. I pushed myself to the limit, physically and emotionally, learning what it really means to be a leader. Sometimes I did a less-than-stellar job and cracked under the pressure. Other times I felt on top of the world, pushing myself and my team to do our best work. Between the other team leaders, campus staff, members of Maple 4, sponsor organizations, and local residents, I made life-long connections with fabulous, talented people across the nation. I acquired new levels of confidence, patience and flexibility that I would have laughed at pre-AmeriCorps. Don't get me wrong, I still have serious road rage. haha But after dealing with various AmeriDramas, living out of a small red bag, sleeping in a basement with 10 people, and seeing the level of need around the country, some disappointments/interpersonal conflicts/material possessions etc. just don't seem as as important. And no matter how hard it got during the year, I would always remind myself that I was going to miss this damn experience when it ended. And I do. So much. And although I know I will go on to do other great things in life, NCCC has left an impression on me that will be a difficult act to follow. Adios, AmeriCorps. I'll miss the hell out of you.