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A Commitment to Service: Gain Experience, Make Connections, Open Doors

On Monday, Americans came together to celebrate a national day of service in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One of the defining characteristics of today’s job-seeking millennials is the importance they place on giving back to their communities—an attribute that is frequently discussed among my colleagues in university recruiting, and which was even noted in Achieve Consulting Inc.’s 2014 Millennial Impact Report.

Credit: Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross AmeriCorps volunteers work to provide disaster response following Hurricane Isaac.

Credit: Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross
AmeriCorps volunteers work to provide disaster response following Hurricane Isaac.

As you may imagine, such a commitment to community service is music to the ears of non-profit organizations such as the American Red Cross. Each year, our competitive internship program attracts students from around the country who are interested in giving back while gaining real-world work experience. And while internships are certainly one way that students can make valuable connections and build the foundation for a future non-profit career, many recent college graduates are going a step further by participating in a year (or more) of service with programs like AmeriCorps.

Rewarded through a modest stipend and education award (which some universities will even match) instead of salary, our Red Cross AmeriCorps volunteers still log ~40 hours a week, working right alongside our employees in the field. While many choose to focus on disaster preparedness and response, there are also opportunities for those who wish to experience the administrative side of the Red Cross, such as volunteer recruitment and management.

Credit:  Daniel Cima/American Red Cross AmeriCorps volunteers gain valuable experience in the field during their year of service at the Red Cross.

Credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross
AmeriCorps volunteers gain valuable experience in the field during their year of service at the Red Cross.

Not only is such experience an impressive addition to any resume, it also facilitates life-long networking opportunities and opens doors to employers who value candidates with both hard and soft skills (leadership, adaptability, team work) developed during their service commitment. In fact, the Corporation for National & Community Service—the federal agency responsible for engaging Americans in such service opportunities—has built partnerships with the American Red Cross and other employers committed to building a talent pipeline of alumni from AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps.

While an extended service commitment might not be the ideal post-graduation plan for every college student, the long-term benefits certainly justify a closer look from career centers and students alike. Interested individuals can get started by simply visiting the AmeriCorps website to explore their areas of interest and discover what opportunities might be available to them.

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Courtenay Verret

Courtenay Verret

Courtenay Verret is a member of the EACE Tech Committee and a Talent Acquisition Program Associate at the American Red Cross. When not exploring the latest and greatest in employer engagement and recruiting strategy, she assists with day to day vendor management. Courtenay holds a B.A. from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, and a M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. In her free time she is an avid open water swimmer and conquers local park trails with her dog Boudreaux. You can connect with Courtenay on LinkedIn and Twitter (@Cour10AV).

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