Starting a career or even switching jobs can feel like you're navigating uncharted waters. However, for those drawn to serving their community, AmeriCorps can be your compass. 

AmeriCorps, a national service program, provides individuals 18 years and older the chance to spend a year serving communities across the U.S. in a variety of ways. It’s not just a chance to do good for others, though – AmeriCorps can be a great career steppingstone! With positions in database development, volunteer coordination, marketing, construction, and more, a year as an AmeriCorps service member with Habitat can mean professional development and personal purpose at the same time. 

0001-2923262057615703411Just ask our staff here at Habitat! Since 1976, people from the Bay Area and across the country have joined the Habitat team as AmeriCorps service members. There are countless reasons why these men and women of all ages and backgrounds serve with Habitat - some serve as a way to get hands-on experience learning new skills, or some are looking for productive ways to spend a gap year. For many on our staff, like our Chief Development Officer, Krys, AmeriCorps was a launching pad for a meaningful career in the nonprofit sector.

Through their narratives, we aim to shed light on the transformative power of AmeriCorps service, demonstrating how it serves as a launchpad for meaningful, long-term careers in the non-profit sector.

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Krys started their career in 1997 as an AmeriCorps member, serving as Habitat’s Volunteer Coordinator. "AmeriCorps launched my career with Habitat," they say, pointing out that “AmeriCorps offers real world experience… a great way to get a foot in the door for your chosen career.” During their year of service, Krys not only got the fulfillment of working toward a mission they believe in, but practical office skills and even some construction experience! Their advice to anyone thinking about joining Americorps? “Find an organization with a cause you feel passionate about. Then, do your research and find out if the organization is a good fit for you.” This kind of compatibility will ensure you gain the most out of your year of service.

Today, as Chief Development Officer, Krys says that even as a member of the senior leadership team, “I still use the base skills I learned as an AmeriCorps member: hard work, perseverance, flexibility… among many others.”

0004-7643032417442826970Pat, Habitat’s Corporate Development Manager, also started his career as an AmeriCorps member shortly after graduating from college. He says, “I credit my AmeriCorps term as providing significant direction for my life at a time when I wasn’t quite sure what to do next.”

Unlike Krys, Pat began his journey far from a Habitat office or construction site – in a pup tent in the Mojave Desert, to be exact. He served his term on a Restoration Crew, rebuilding trails at the southern end of the Sierra Nevadas. How could that experience prepare him for his current role, stewarding relationships with Habitat’s corporate partners? For one thing, Pat says, “There are a lot of soft skills to gain through working as an AmeriCorps that are highly valuable in many job roles today.” And beyond that, he shares, AmeriCorps fostered “my mental fortitude and confidence, as well as my desire to continue pursuing work that I felt would make a difference in the world.”

0002-7447125831618851924 2Like Pat, Ben saw AmeriCorps as a way to change the world for the better. Ben, our Construction Project Manager, calls AmeriCorps “a life choice for a year to live simply, to help people with every fiber of who you are. I would not have missed it for anything.” Not that Ben pretends it’s easy (“a hard, joyous experience,” he calls it), but his 2000-2002 terms as a Construction Crew Leader were transformative both personally and professionally. AmeriCorps took him from never having used a circular saw to building his own furniture, from leading clubs in school to leading multimillion-dollar building projects. It prepared him, he says, “for a career by giving a sense of purpose, by honing the ability to think flexibly and troubleshoot on the fly, and by ensuring you’ll be able to small talk comfortably with anyone!” And all that talking came in handy, since Ben also credits AmeriCorps with making dozens of friends and hundreds of new connections. 

0003-1439325979348116779 3Habitat’s Corporate Development Associate, Amy, took heart from people like Ben and others, since “so many of our staff members went through the AmeriCorps program themselves” and could empathize with the learning curve that service members face. For Amy, the AmeriCorps experience eased her into professional life after graduating from college. Amy admits, "I was adamant that I wasn’t going to work in the non-profit sector long term." Her year of service challenged her skepticism and reshaped her career aspirations by exposing her to things like “mentorship,” “basic career skills,” and “opening your eyes to new ideas and experiences that you never would have considered.” Though Amy advises that prospective AmeriCorps members prepare themselves to live on a budget and research each position for the best fit – she says that “the AmeriCorps program is a great way for young adults to expand their horizons and try something new that might be outside their comfort zone.”

No matter where you are in your career - whether you’re just starting out or you're questioning your next move - AmeriCorps is here to help you foster opportunities for personal growth and professional development just as Krys, Pat, Ben, and Amy did.

For more than 50 years, the national AmeriCorps program has empowered service-minded individuals spanning generations and geographic locations to make a profound impact toward a brighter, more inclusive future. The best part, you never know where your year of service will take you, but you know you’ll make a difference along the way!



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