In May, I was fresh out of college and uncertain about what I wanted to do in the future. As I weighed the pros and cons of graduate school, a professor suggested I spend the summer with AmeriCorps helping prevent “summer melt” – when students that have already been accepted into college suddenly decide not to go. During the summer, I worked one-on-one with incoming college freshmen every day, whether we filled out paperwork together or whether I simply gave them advice and guidance. I quickly learned the importance of my role: VISTAs who work year-round aren’t allowed to provide direct service, so we (the summer mentors) were the connections between students and the resources and support they needed. Without us, VISTAs wouldn’t be able to help students nearly as effectively.
Time has flown by since I began that position. Before I knew it, I hit the end of my service and I was applying for a new position, this time as a year-round Communications Coordinator for 55k. Now, I’m three days into my new job, and I’m already feeling the difference between this and summer mentoring. I’m still supporting students – but I work much further in the background, managing social media accounts and making communication with our affiliates smoother. Rather than directly interacting with students, I’m interacting with other 55k staff and their affiliates. The environment, while not lacking in friendliness, feels much more professional here.
Of course, I do miss talking students who were preparing to head off to college. I went through all kinds of emotions with my students: excitement for what’s to come, nervousness from wondering whether it will all work out, confusion in putting together details of this new part of life… It was challenging, but incredibly rewarding. I won’t have that sort of thing here, but in its place, I’ll finally get a real taste of what being a working professional is like, and I’ll still have the satisfaction of helping others in doing so. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.