After you are FINISHED

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I was wondering what avenue alumni took after their year of service. Did you do a second year? How did you decide?? Where were you to start out and where did you end up??
Let me know... Hopefully it will point me in some directions as I end my year of service.
Thanks

I too, will be finishing my year of service soon (first week in December). I am curious how others have moved forward, but I'll let you know how I'm preparing for this change. I have looked into more opportunities by checking idealist.org - I've already begun to apply for some internship opportunities. While I had hoped that this VISTA year would move me forward enough to look into government jobs, (usajobs.gov), it seems most of those postings are looking for VERY experienced level professionals (I'm still 23 and only have a B.A. degree). Thus, I've also begun applying to graduate schools- especially those schools that match the AmeriCorps scholarship!

Hope this helps?! And I hope we get more posts from real Alumni up here!!!

-Becca

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Becca - We're in a similar boat - I've run into the same problem on usajobs....and I really don't understand how to tell what "range" I qualify for. Please email me if you find out anything more about the fed jobs or even decent grad schools that will match our education award - maybe we can brainstorm together: saekinderknecht@hotmail.com. Sarah

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I completed my first year of service at the end of 1999. I had moved to Baltimore, MD from Florida for my VISTA position, so having spent most of the year getting my bearings both personally and for my work, I was not ready to pick up and move on so soon. The year flew by and I had not accomplished nearly as much as I had hoped, though in all honesty my hopes were largely unreasonable at the same time; I expected way too much from my service year in the way of permanent impact on a new community to which I had just begun to really orient myself.
So I did another year serving the same program as a VISTA Leader. I can't really say it was an intentional decision to be a VISTA Leader so much as it was an effort to extend my service in hopes of having a greater impact given more time. Looking back, the real value of that second year ended up being what I was able to do for the sponsoring organization, its volunteers and other VISTA members, more than continuing to work in the community. Since my role changed, so did my focus, and I can only assume the support I tried to give the other VISTAs and the staff was a contribution to the community. I do believe we dramatically increased the capacity of that nonprofit and its community representatives to address the issues there. Alas, one can never have real proof. It was simply a sense I had when I left, and that had to be good enough.
The end of my second year is a longer story... hope this gives you some info at least. If you're considering another year, there are advantages to it, especially if you are involved in local things you want to stay involved in and also take the time in year two to consider and explore what you'll do next more directly.
--tamara.

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I finished as a VISTA at the end of January of this year. I'm 25 and am also a BA graduate. Since I've finished being a VISTA I was hired on at the organization I volunteered at as a paid staff. When my VISTA term ended I was kind of lost - not really sure where to go/what to do next and had no start up money anyway. Completing VISTA helped me acquire the job I have now because the organization basically created a job for me because they didn't want to lose me. It was completely based on personal ties and the job was never advertised to the public. I'm doing something different for the organization than I was as a VISTA but I was able to still provide support to the program I developed as a VISTA which was cool. Now that I'm in a position to start finally saving some money I'm focusing on what I will do 6 months from now. I have considered grad school as well, particularly those schools that match the education award - I have yet to use the award for that reason. I'm also interested in learning about how as a VISTA alum we get a year of non-competitive status with the federal government. Does anyone know more about how this works??! I've tried to find out various ways, but haven't gotten any answers. Thanks!

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Hey Sarah- and anyone else out there with the same question:

When you go onto USAJOBS.GOV and search for jobs, many of them will say you must have non-competitive status to apply. Then when you do apply, there's a little button you click at the bottom:
"Do you have non-competitive eligibility or veterans preference? Yes or No" Then you click yes, obviously.

Just a note, however. I've found the site usajobs.gov to be VERY time consuming and difficult to understand- for instance terms like Grade Level and such... In addition, most of the jobs I think I even qualify for (after my VISTA year and with a BA in International Relations) are very low-low-level.

I would be very interested in knowing if any VISTA Alum have actually gotten a job through this process, and if "non-competitive eligibility" really means much at all.

Thanks!

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I have a B.S and have been trying to "non-competitive eligibility" but no luck so far. I finished Septbember and have not found a thing. I starting to think it does not mean very much.

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I am a little disappointed after reading these posts. I was really hoping to be able to get a job with the non competitive status. I am from Kansas City and my VISTA position is in California. The reason I came here was because I could not find any jobs in Kansas City, so I was thinking I would do VISTA then get a federal job in Kansas City. Has anyone seen any secretarial jobs or anything that we might get? I don't mind taking a lower level job, I just want to be able to move back near my friends and family. Any advice would be appreciated.

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Where are you in California? I am in Sacramento. I work for ending chronic homelessness initiative.

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I think the non-competitive eligibility can also be applied towards a State govt position? The same questions Federal jobs asks are also asked for State jobs, so I think it's possible to use your status for those as well. You should be able to contact the State Office where you're looking for work and find out.

Also, you can print a letter of your eligibility from your MyAmeriCorps account and take that with you to interviews and/or include a copy with your application or resume. Lastly, if you're interested in national service as a permanent career, CNCS has job listings like any other Fed agency and staff in almost every state. It couldn't hurt to find out if there are openings there as well: http://www.nationalservice.gov/about/employment/index.asp

I wasn't aware of this benefit when I finished my service and I hate to hear that others might miss out on the opportunity as well.

--tamara
'99-'01

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Thanks Zach...the university I want to go to matches the VISTA award! I was surprised that not more universities did though.

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I will finish at the end of June. I am hoping to get a second year in a different VIsta Position. I have been wanting a Vista Leader Position. I was wondering if anyone had in experance in doing this. I would like to do Vista for the simple that you can get the Sigal Award twice and I would like to go back and get higer education.( you can't do this if your in debt already because of schooling. I done my major in social work so this type of thing looks good for future jobs and is good experiance. I was wondering if anyone knows when a person can start applying for a different position I know it took a couple months to get this one and my hope is to find and get something that stars in July. I know that this Vista Position is not being renewed nor is it possible to leadto a full time position. I took the position knowing it would be a year only. Can anyone give me an idea how to go about it.

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Hi Megan,

Feel free to send me your questions about becoming a VISTA Leader. I recently finished my third year of VISTA and about half of that time was as a Leader. I have also served as a VISTA Leader Guide so I have worked with VISTA Leaders all across the country and I have a good feel for what it's like all over the place. You might imagine, is a lot like being a VISTA because the experience can vary dramatically depending on the project you serve. To sum it up in a sound bite, though: VISTAs build the capacity of the sites they serve. On the other hand, VISTA Leaders build the capacity of the *individual* VISTAs they serve through professional development, training, recruitment support, and moral support.

The model that VISTA Leaders are encouraged to use is the idea of transformational leadership. We often take on responsibilities that would be challenging for professional team builders with years and years of experience. However, true leaders recognize their own need to grow, to be gentle with others and their own self while also choosing their battles and challenging the system to create positive change.

VISTA Leaders receive a slightly enhanced biweekly stipend (about $90-$100 extra per paycheck), can earn an ed award if they've only earned the first one, or can go for a double cash stipend ($2400) instead.

VISTA Leader opportunities can be found on the my.americorps.com recruitment site, but it's often a good idea to chat up your neighborhood Leader(s) and get the inside scoop. Like any VISTA opportunity, it's a good idea to be judging the site throughout the recruitment/interview process just as the site is judging you, because a good fit is paramount. If anyone wants to learn about VISTA Leader opps in Oregon, I'm still pretty knowledgeable. You could also call your state office and ask for a list of sites with VISTA Leaders.

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I wrote the following response to someone who is "forced" to work over 40 hour per week: Quite frankly, I am too afraid to say anything within the site organization (in my case, the university) or to the AmeriCorps state representative, or for that matter, to the national AmeriCorps people! As you know, we have a chance for "noncompetitive" hiring in the federal government, but who do you think they will contact first in consideration for employment? "Correctamundo" - my "Happy Days" fans - they will ask the direct supervisor of the AmeriCorps site in which the AmeriCorps volunteer had placement! The federal government (contrary to what President Obama claims) wants toadies (happy "cogs in the machine") and not outspoken free thinkers! Sincerely, Brian F. Gorman, Ph.D. P.S. Feel free to pass this along (including my name) to any organization or person you would like...I am done being a coward!

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On noncompetitive hiring, you have it for one year. They will not find you, you have to find them.

You can get a job noncompetitively, but it is probably going to be entry level (GS 3 - 5, possibly as high as 7 or 9). Any higher than that will usually require a lot of experience or high level schooling. While temporary, the Census Bureau will be doing a lot of hiring over the next 1 1/2 - 2 years. Other options are looking at federal agencies where you want to work. Talking to people in the office is a good way to network and may be the connection you need to get the interview.

I do agree with Brian on the "cog" concept. I have more than 8 years of federal employment and free thinking was, and still is, discouraged. If you don't have an issue with this, go for it.

There are numerous advantages to working for the feds, and people have to weigh the pros and cons to decide if they want to pursue fed. employment. On the pay side, it generally tends to be about 15% or so below comparable positions in the private sector, and the insurance benefits are fairly average and somewhat above average on the cost of premiums, etc.

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Samantha,

My first and second years were with an AmeriCorps State/National program. The first year was pretty rough, related to a situation between the host site and my AC program. I seriously considered not doing a second year, but I chose to do it after giving it much thought. My second year went a whole lot better at a different host site.

I took a year off to finish my B.S. (Organizational Management and Leadership) which I had started back in June 1979. I was approached by a friend to apply for an AC VISTA position at her agency and I was chosen to serve there. My term ends in May and I plan on starting Grad School in June. I will probably apply to the Census Bureau for their temporary office help as this gives me plenty of flexibility in planning my Master's courses. I will also be finishing up my second B.S. (Not-for-Profit Management).

I used most of my Ed Award to complete my B.S. as financial aid was not an option for most of the last classes. I encourage everyone to find schools which match their Ed Awards if possible, or at least offer additional scholarship options if they don't. One thing to watch out for is to make sure the match is worth the cost since a number of the matching schools are private and the tuition can be higher than the match difference.

If you are close to mid-year on your service, it is time to be considering your next step: college or employment, etc. It is much easier to get a job while employed (or serving) than what you are not.

Your 1 - 3 years of service may help you decide what you want to do, or equally important, what you don't want to do.

Paul

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I took my stipend and had a delightful six-week adventure in sunny Spain. I walked the pilgrimage route from Roncesvalles (near the French border) over five mountain ranges to Santiago de Compostella. I carried my backpack and went alone. (This path is sometimes called the Way of St James or the Camino.)

I did a couple short term contracts for a local non-profit and basically enjoyed the year off.

In October I will start a second year as an AmeriCorps*VISTA, back at the same organization I worked at before. I am delighted with the project they have designed for me. I will travel around the state giving workshops to small literacy organizations on recruitiment and outreach and I will be designing strategy for a team of AmeriCorps members who will be solicited in 2010 or 2011. I suspect I will have a staff position at the agency when my second year is over. If not, there will be other adventures ahead (I may use my eligibility for a federal job to leverage a position somewhere else...lots of interesting jobs on their books!)

I have enjoyed the autonomy of my VISTA role and I was delighted to have the cash for my trip.

Life is good...

"Ginn"
In Sunny Santa Fe

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