National Service and You

Reflect on your accomplishments and take stock of your new skills

While you're thinking about the future, it will be helpful to spend some time reflecting on the ways your national service experience has affected you.

Has AmeriCorps or VISTA made a difference in your life? If so, how?

Look at what you've learned and accomplished during the past year.

Confused about the difference between AmeriCorps and VISTA?

VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) provides full-time members to nonprofit, faith-based and other community organizations, and public agencies to create and expand programs that ultimately bring low-income individuals and communities out of poverty.

AmeriCorps*State works with Governor-appointed State Service Commissions. AmeriCorps*National provides grants directly to national public and nonprofit organizations. Both AmeriCorps streams support programs around the country, including hundreds of faith-based and community organizations, higher education institutions, and public agencies to meet critical community needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment.

Journal #2: Describe your AmeriCorps or VISTA experience

For this journaling activity, you will have a list of questions to help get you started with your writing. As with all journal entries, feel free to record your response in a blog or on paper.

Please respond in your journal to this writing prompt:

Describe your AmeriCorps or VISTA experience.

(Here are the questions that can help you get started:

1. What did you do well?
2. What are you most proud of?
3. What do you wish had been different?
4. Do you believe you made a difference? If so, how? If not, why not?

Since your AmeriCorps or VISTA experience began...
5. How have you changed as a person? How are you different as a friend or spouse or family member?
6. How have you changed as a community member?
7. How have you changed as a worker?)

See Julien’s journal entry

Would you like to see a sample of how someone else responded to this journaling activity? You can take a look at what Julien wrote. (pdf)

Journal #3: Skills inventory

In the next journaling activity, you'll consider the skills you learned or enhanced during your service. Have you become better organized? Patient? Diplomatic? Helpful? Are you more punctual? Less shy? A better public speaker? Did you learn how to write? How to understand and work with a budget? Did you learn new software? Did you learn about other cultures? How to organize around a community issue? As with all journal entries, feel free to record your response in a blog or on paper.

Please respond in your journal to this writing prompt:

List your skills and other things you've learned during your service term. Begin each list item with an action verb.

Here are some examples of how to put your list together:

  • Wrote a community newsletter.
  • Monitored program expenses. Kept program budget.
  • Recycled trash.
  • Organized and conducted community service projects.
  • Tutored middle school students in reading.

If you are a VISTA member, they might look like this:

  • Marketed my project to potential volunteers in the community
  • Created a volunteer training program.
  • Organized in-kind donations from local businesses for an auction.
  • Worked with community businesses on service projects.)

Journal #4: List your accomplishments

What did you complete and/or achieve during your AmeriCorps or VISTA service? List things that you feel you did well and about which you are most proud. Use a verb first, and be specific. When you can, use numbers. Be accurate: Don't overstate or downplay what you've done. And don't forget to include all the training you've received (and used) as a member. As with all journal entries, feel free to record your response in a blog or on paper.

Please respond in your journal to this writing prompt:

Write about your accomplishments as an AmeriCorps or VISTA member.

(Here are some examples that may help you describe your accomplishments:

  • Wrote six community newsletters that were distributed to 500 community residents and organizations.
  • Planned and managed a $30,000 budget for a community program. Raised $1,000 among local businesses for playground equipment.
  • Participated in community trash recycling program that collected 1,000 pounds of material for recycling.
  • Completed 1,700 hours of community service at a neighborhood center.

If you are a VISTA , your list items might look like these:

  • Developed a system to market our program to the community and to identify and recruit interested volunteers. This included creating new print and web materials, writing 3 volunteer task descriptions, and developing a database to track volunteers.
  • Developed a volunteer training curriculum and held 2 trainings to train 50 volunteer project leader.
  • Planned, and held a charity event, invited local leaders and auctioned off donated items resulting in raising $9,500 for my non-profit organizations.
  • Researched community projects, identified potential partners, and built strong ongoing partnerships with 3 community businesses and 2 civic organizations.)
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