Lately, I’ve been working at a number of career fairs. These career fairs are a time for Volunteer Maryland to recruit not only for the coming Class 26, but potentially for classes years from now. What a career fair means for me as a representative is a chance to reach out to the community, to educate people on a world that AmeriCorps is working towards, and to try and help them figure out a part they can play in that. And whether their part is to start a charity, volunteer a couple hours a week at the pound, to tell a niece or nephew about our organization, or just go home thinking about how they can improve their little slice of the world, that’s fine by me.
The career fairs aren’t just about asking for jobs or offering jobs – a career fair is a chance to give people whole new ideas of where they might end up, or what they might want to explore. Any number of the attendees of these fairs have never heard of AmeriCorps and Volunteer Maryland before, making the fairs the perfect place to start educating. We talk about what Volunteer Maryland exists to do, its history, and their possible place in it. We explain what AmeriCorps is, all the places it ranges and community needs it addresses. It might take me several minutes to tell a student everything they need to know. Hopefully at the very least, I’ve exposed them to the idea of working for a non-profit, or at least inspired them to look into how they can volunteer for something they care about.
All of this talking is for a bigger purpose than just recruiting. Whether that person I just talked the ear off of decides to apply this year or not, they now have an invitation to learn more about the AmeriCorps world with them. As that idea incubates, it might just grow into a relationship with us and with the AmeriCorps world.
For me, this fits in neatly with the mission of AmeriCorps Week. This approaching week is a time for those who have or are taking part in AmeriCorps to educate. We will be sharing our stories and explaining what a year of service means to us. My elevator speech will become a multi-layered story- talking about service broadly across the nation as well as my own experience this year with Volunteer Maryland.
All of us here at Volunteer Maryland will be sharing our stories this coming week in the hope of informing and inspiring. Check in on us every day to hear about our adventures and achievements in AmeriCorps!