Relating Your Experience to Others

As you complete your year of service and get ready for the next phase of your life, you will need to be able to tell others—potential employers, college admission officers, your friends and family—about your AmeriCorps or VISTA experience as well as the skills and accomplishments you achieved during your service.

Application reviewers (jobs or colleges)
After you've identified your skills and accomplishments, you should be prepared to talk about them. In interviews with prospective employers, schools, funders and selection committees, you'll certainly be asked to describe the good things you will bring with you to the new opportunity. The best way to do that will be to emphasize skills you have, and examples of the way you've successfully used them.

Print and use this worksheet (PDF) to prepare for interviews or other occasions when you know you will talk about being an AmeriCorps member. It will help you define and shape ways to talk about your accomplishments.

Family and friends
Manny didn't have to travel far to change cultures.

Manny didn't travel far to serve with AmeriCorps. His service site is in the same neighborhood as his high school and family home. When he was finishing high school, there was pressure on him to stop going to school and find a full-time job to help support the family. Members of his family have always been wary of education, in part because they see how school causes students to drift away from their home culture. Manny is strongly considering going to college after he finishes AmeriCorps. If that's what he's going to do, he'd like some guidance in how to approach his family with his decision.

Returning home is not always easy. AmeriCorps or VISTA members who've relocated will return home afterwards often face what is called "cross-cultural re-entry." A member who grew up in rural Texas and served in urban Chicago, for example, may find re-entry harder than expected if she returns home for any length of time.

Planning for re-entry can help to ease the transition. Give some thought to the way you'll describe your service to your family, friends, and neighbors at home. Some may not be interested or may believe their culture is better than the one in which you served. How will you deal with that?

Even people who have spent their service in their home community may experience some re-entry issues if they have worked in a somewhat different culture, or if family or friends have discounted their experience.

In general, people returning home don't expect a hard time and are surprised because the difficulty is so unexpected. Sometimes, the surprise of re-entry "shock" leads to ineffectiveness and/or depression during the transition.

Often people who return from service overseas or cultures that differ from their own discover that the same coping skills they used to adjust to another culture also help them cope with returning home. Think back to what helped you get through the first few months of your service assignment. Transfer your new experiences and expertise to your home or your "old" situation.

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