The opportunity to take a different path

acI became interested in serving through AmeriCorps during college. I was looking at my options after graduation and became discouraged in this impossible job market. I knew I wanted a career in public service with a non-profit organization, but was struggling finding the right fit. AmeriCorps offered me an excellent chance to combine my education background in marketing and communications with my interest in public service.

Through my experience with AmeriCorps, I have learned the opportunities and challenges of the financial counseling industry, a sector I previously knew very little about. My position has helped develop my writing and public speaking skills, organizational abilities, and problem solving skills.

In my position as the Financial Literacy Instructor with Lutheran Social Services Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS), I represent the agency at a variety of local events and teach free education classes in the community about budgeting, credit, resume & interview skills, and tenant/landlord rights. I also write CCCS’s posts on this very blog and schedule client appointments (when I’m actually at my desk). My most memorable moment thus far is the success of Protect Your Identity Week. I assisted in organizing a document shredding event to educate consumers on identity theft protection. At the event, we saw 80 cars and shredded 3355 pounds of paper!

I am proud of what AmeriCorps accomplishes as a service organization. I can see the work we do making a difference to our clients and to the larger community. It’s exactly the kind of experience I was looking for. Being an AmeriCorps volunteer with Lutheran Social Services is an added bonus. LSS does so much for South Dakota families and communities, and I am proud to assist in providing such wonderful services. At the end of the day, I can go home feeling positive about the work I am doing, even if I’m having a particularly difficult day.

My time with AmeriCorps differs from jobs I have had in the past because of the increased flexibility. Our office is open evenings and some weekends, allowing me the option to work as my personal schedule allows. Some weeks it feels like I live at the office, but I’m rewarded with a more flexible schedule the next week. I enjoy having the ability to easily fit AmeriCorps into my life, and the education award is a cherry on top.

I think AmeriCorps is a great opportunity to take a different path. Not everyday is easy and it’s rarely glamorous, but actively engaging in such a large service adventure is intrinsically rewarding. I will look back on my year of service as something special. I’m challenged everyday and am excited about the opportunities AmeriCorps has opened up for me.

Submitted by Danielle Erickson.

The South Dakota Nonprofit Association is the state’s Commission for National and Community Service. LSS was recently awarded a grant from the state commission to fund AmeriCorps members to serve at our agency.  We are currently seeking AmeriCorps members for 2013-14. Please visit the employment section of our website for more details.

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