Thinking about what to do after four years at Kalamazoo College is stressful. There are so many opportunities out there that it can seem daunting trying to find one that’s right for you. Last Tuesday, three different AmeriCorps programs were presented at the “Making the Most of Your Gap Year” event put on during the CareerExpo by the Center for Career and Professional Development.
This event highlighted a few programs that allow graduates the chance to serve communities and gain tangible experiences.
One of the AmeriCorps programs was City Year. This is a program that works in high poverty communities to provide students with support to stay on track for graduation.
Monique Zellars, the City Year Presenter, explained her ideal candidate for the program. “You have to have a passion for understanding community,” Zellars said. City Year and AmeriCorps try “to bring in a diverse population in to serve. When you bring all those people of diverse backgrounds together, it works to bring about a strong community and opens conversations.”
Next, Claira Freeman presented the Literacy of West Michigan program. This organization operates in the Greater Grand Rapids area to improve adult literacy. Many of their participants are immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers working to improve their English to aid in their children’s education.
“A gap year is a huge resume builder. AmeriCorps is a nationally recognized organization and [being a part of it] is a great time to learn those hard skills,” Freeman said. “It gives you confidence and a shot to do tangible work along with some great benefits. It gave me the confidence to be a leader.”
AdviseMI was the third program presented by Emily Halling. AdviseMI specifically seeks recent college graduates to work in high schools around Michigan to partner with students in pursuing a college education. “All these opportunities are so special. You do incredible things [while gaining] a great network of people and skills that you can translate into something else that you might want to go into,” Halling said.
A gap year is a huge resume builder. It gives you confidence and a shot to do tangible work along with some great benefits. It gave me the confidence to be a leader.
The presenters emphasized the many post-graduation benefits of participating in their programs.
“AmeriCorps is so great because it’s a solid year of doing it. You get money to help with starting in the [professional world] and with student loans,” Freeman said.
Zellars added that AmeriCorps is an opportunity to put what you’ve learned in college into the context of the real world. “It really helps you to understand how big the problem is and how much further you need to go in understanding and educating yourself in it,” Zellers said.
Lia Williams K’18 was one of the attendees of this event. “What I enjoyed most was hearing about the benefits you can bring to the programs, including personal mentoring to high school students, and in turn, how the programs benefit you,” Williams said. “It seems an intense growth experience for both you and the students, but definitely a rewarding one.”