As a 32-year old AmeriCorps VISTA, I am here to tell you that this year of service was one of the best career decisions I have made thus far.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it a lot of change (understatement of the year, right?!), but it also proved to be the perfect opportunity for me to reevaluate my career path and look to align next steps with personal life preferences and needs. For context, I had been living in the Twin Cities and loved my job, but my partner also loved his job and was living in Cloquet, Minnesota. Together, we decided that moving northward was the best for our relationships, so I began job searching. I knew moving to Duluth, Minnesota would come with many challenges, but I firmly believed that making connections through AmeriCorps service would be the best way for me to ground myself in community and find a clear path to use my skills and talents in productive ways. I loved my time spent working in the nonprofit sector in the Twin Cities, and I knew I wanted to engage with an organization that would allow me to continue developing programs and enhancing processes. While the work I previously did centered around providing programs and services for adults with disabilities, I was confident that my skills were transferrable to other settings and ages served. And so, I took a placement with Mentor North, a nonprofit youth mentoring organization based in Duluth.
As the Capacity Building and Recruitment VISTA at Mentor North, I have had the opportunity to engage with the community on many levels, build new partnerships, and explore new interests. I was able to take my years of working in the nonprofit disability sector and utilize those skills for the betterment of the organization as a whole. Additionally, my year of service and overall experience were enhanced by the support from the Ecolibrium3 team and the many other VISTAs serving in my cohort.
While AmeriCorps service is often associated with those freshly out of college, If you are a bit older like me and questioning what to do next in your career path, I would strongly encourage you to explore the possibility of entering into a year of service. I knew that life would be keeping me in the Duluth area for the foreseeable future, but even if that’s not the case for you, joining the Ecolibrium3 cohort will allow you the time and space to engage with community, prioritize personal development, and have ample opportunities to center yourself in meaningful conversation and action-based work.