It is hard to believe I am more than half way through my second year of service with Volunteer Maryland. I had no idea what I was getting into when I signed up to be an AmeriCorps member, but without a doubt it has been one of the best decisions I ever made. While in college, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Egypt. That experience planted the “law-as-a-career seed” and AmeriCorps has watered it. I did not know that serving as a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator at the Banneker-Douglass Museum and now as a Volunteer Maryland (VM) Peer Leader would prepare me for a career in the law field, but I believe that it has. Since joining the VM family, I have improved and discovered skills that will only help me in the long run as an attorney. It was difficult, but I narrowed down my list to my top three skills:
1. Clear and effective communication really is key. I never had a fear of public speaking, but I was not the most comfortable with it either. AmeriCorps has allowed me to practice speaking to various groups and learn how I need to readjust how I give out and receive verbal information. There really is no point in me talking if people are not understanding what I am saying. That also applies to written communication. In today’s social media and electronic advancing age, it is easy for emails, messages, documents, etc. to be misinterpreted, so I have learned how to be clear and concise; even in my writing, so that my main points are not lost in translation. Pretty important for when I’ll be preparing briefs and appearing in court.
2. Time management is a skill, not a natural talent. Like communication, managing my time has been another area where I have grown. Since being a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator, I have learned more about my work ethic, how to balance short and long term projects, and (most importantly) my limits. I now have a system on how I prioritize to make sure I follow through with any task I am given. Being a lawyer will require a lot of juggling, so I am glad I have a time management system in place.
3. The beauty of relationships may not always be easy, but it is necessary. Establishing a rapport with the VM Support Team, Volunteer Maryland Coordinators, volunteers, clients, and all persons really, is essential for work to get done. I have learned to work with a variety of communities ranging in age, race, gender, interests, needs, and professions. I never understood the importance and value of building relationships in the work place until I joined Volunteer Maryland.
I thought I had AmeriCorps all figured out, but I have gained more than I thought I would! I have gained so many great experiences, and I am eager to expand upon them in law school this fall. I do not know many jobs that would have enhanced the skills of their employees in this way, which is why I will be forever grateful for Volunteer Maryland and AmeriCorps!