Jake and Sydney both started at Youth Volunteer Corps as AmeriCorps VISTAs in late November of 2017. As their terms end at YVC, they reflect on their time and how they’ve grown over the year. We have asked Jake and Sydney to share some of their thoughts and memories as they move forward in their professional careers.
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Q: What was the most meaningful experience that you had?
Sydney: Last year for YVC Day, I joined a YVC project in Kansas City at the Kansas City Community Kitchen. I had such a great time! I had been talking the talk but not walking the walk so to speak, and having the chance to join in on a project, meet YVC youth, and see our impact was really meaningful.
Jake: The entirety of Summit was meaningful to me. Since Summit was towards the end of my term, it was really cool to see all of the youth that I had been helping both directly and indirectly for the last year. It really put the scope and importance of YVC into perspective for me.
Q: How did you grow from your term?
Sydney: In too many ways to list. Perhaps the biggest way I’ve grown is my confidence in myself. YVC pushes you to take on new projects and initiatives that help you grow as a professional (and as a person), and I am much more confident in my spectrum of skills and the assets I can bring to a team.
Jake: My skills have grown exponentially since I began my term. I joined YVC fresh out of college with very little experience under my belt, and am now leaving with more new skills than I can even count. I was told by multiple people that I came off as increasingly more confident professionally the longer I worked at YVC.
Q: What is one of your favorite memories during your term?
Sydney: Going to our national Summit conference in Charleston, SC! I loved meeting all of our incredible affiliates and learning more about the work that they do. It was such a fun, exhausting, and exhilarating trip and I’d go back in a heartbeat.
Jake: Definitely making the introduction video for Summit. Sydney and I created the outline and script, and then I was mainly in charge of the filming and editing. We put aside a half-day to get the whole office involved, which was a lot of fun.
Q: How has your VISTA term prepared you for future jobs?
Sydney: One thing that I loved about my VISTA term is that we weren’t treated like interns – we jumped right in and had the opportunity to tackle “big kahuna” sized projects. I have never felt more prepared for an interview, as I have taken on a wide variety of projects and tasks and can talk about them for as long as a person will allow me. YVC truly cares about your personal and professional growth, and I appreciate that in an employer.
Jake: Throughout my VISTA term I have been afforded tons of opportunities to gain the professional experience I have wanted. I plan on moving into a career in advertising after my term has ended, and YVC and VISTA have allowed me to grow whatever skills I need to set me up for success.
Q: What are you most proud of?
Sydney: Writing a grant and being awarded $30,000 from it. The day I opened that letter, I almost fell out of my chair I was so excited.
Jake: It is a tie between creating websites for our seven new programs in Kansas and Missouri, or the summer youth recruitment plan I created for each of these new sites. I created the websites with almost no web design experience, and the recruitment plan allowed me to work with a budget for the first time, so they were both important projects for me.
Q: What will you miss the most when you leave YVC?
Sydney: What I’ll miss most is the office culture and the friends I have made. One of the most important things that I have learned is what my ideal office culture looks like: welcoming, supportive, fun, dynamic, motivational – I could go on! My coworkers have become my friends, and I will definitely miss seeing their faces every day.
Jake: I’m really going to miss seeing the YVC team every day. It is going to be very difficult for my next job to live up to the wonderful environment YVC has offered. On the bright side, I have made friends with everyone I work with here, so I plan on seeing them a lot more in the future.
Q: What advice would you give to new and potential VISTAs who want to work with YVC?
Sydney: Probably the hardest part about living as a VISTA is the living allowance – as one who is helping eradicate poverty, your pay is at a poverty level. However, it IS doable (plus the education award at the end of your term to pay for college is SWEET), and I definitely think it’s ultimately worth it. My year at YVC is one I will never regret; I’ve learned so much and have been surrounded by some of the most amazing people I will ever meet.
Jake: You should be certain the VISTA lifestyle is for you. A VISTA term can be extremely rewarding, but you should always consider if you are able to make the financial and economic sacrifices necessary to be a VISTA.
Q: Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
Sydney: I cannot recommend working at YVC enough. There hasn’t been a day that I’ve woken up in the morning and dreaded going to work, and I think that says a lot. My VISTA term has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in my life, and I am so happy that I had a chance to work here. Now that my term is up, it’s time for someone new to step in have the same opportunity that I did. That person is you!
Jake: I just want to thank everyone at YVC for not only being so welcoming and inclusive, but also genuinely supportive and caring of my future endeavors and me. It is rare to find such a perfect group of people that all get along and enjoy each other’s company so much, but that is exactly what YVC is. Everyone at YVC has played a huge role in my professional and personal growth, and for that, I am extremely grateful.
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