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While many communities are struggling with the affects of COVID-19, the economy is especially challenging in Buffalo, NY. As the Business Journal recently reported, unemployment levels in Buffalo are up to almost 20%, as opposed to 3% at this time last year. For many recent graduates in WNY and those in the job market, it is a scary and uncertain time.
If you are a recent high school or college graduate considering the next steps in your next career, now is a great time to consider enrolling in AmeriCorps or a Buffalo internship. AmeriCorps is a federal program that allows members to get job experience and make connections. Participants also receive up to a $14,270 living stipend and $6,345 education award depending on the number of hours served.
Joining Mission: Ignite allows you to pay off your student loans, gain employment and skills, and put yourself in a better position for a good paying and rewarding IT or STEM education job. In fact, studies have shown that 42% of AmeriCorps alumni find jobs within 6 months of service through connection made during their AmeriCorps program.
On today's blog, we invited two of our current AmeriCorps members, Brandi Ball and Kaila Frazier, to share their insights and experience.
Brandi Ball started the AmeriCorps program right after she graduated from college. "The program is set up a lot like that of an internship, where I can gain a lot of experience and skills to develop my career opportunities further."
Brandi choose the AmeriCorps program over other jobs and internships for two reasons. "The first reason is the amount of experience I am gaining by working with Mission: Ignite - our expectations, roles, and responsibilities are just as important as the staff.", Ball said. "The second reason is that I get to serve and give back to the community with affordable technology for schools, organizations, and the general Western New York area."
Kaila Frazier came to AmeriCorps when approached by a Mission: Ignite employee, who told her the benefits that serving could provide for her future. She works in Education Services, designing and leading remote learning programs. "My typical day is making creative lessons and adding them to our list and training others on how to teach them."
For Kaila, the choice to sign up for AmeriCorps was easy. She is going to school for early childhood education. "This job has taught me how to make my own lessons as well as deploy those lessons...What better place could I have picked?"
Brandi has learned a lot through her time at Mission: Ignite. "My typical day starts with checking in and managing my AmeriCorps team. After guiding my team and reviewing our tasks, I start the day by reviewing our grant contracts. I work with our warehouse and tech team to see if they need any equipment or tools and use the rest of my time to help write and build out procedures. To end my shift, I save the best and most fun task for last, my marketing tasks."
"I would encourage college students and graduates to apply to Mission: Ignite's AmeriCorps program because it is the perfect opportunity to develop your career and serve your community." Brandi concluded, "Not only do you get to develop your career and serve, but you also get awarded money for both school and yourself through the Educational Award and the Living Stipend."
Kaila has also learned a lot through her experience at Mission: Ignite. "Being an AmeriCorps volunteer has taught me that a community has to work together to provide a better place for our future", she says.
When asked about her favorite part of her position, Kaila was candid. "The best part of the experience has been finding other AmeriCorps members that have the same goal in mind as me working at another location. To anyone that is considering AmeriCorps, I would definitely say go for it. This has been one of the most rewarding educational experiences that I could have ever signed up for."
Mission: Ignite's mission spoke to Brandi and Kaila, and the organization's work takes on new meaning during COVID-19. Interns and AmeriCorps members are vital to our operations to curb the digital and learning divide in our community.
Curious to learn more? Don't delay - head to our AmeriCorps and internships page to learn more and fill out our contact form. Positions are limited and filling quickly.
For more great tips on considering AmeriCorps, check out Sarah Westbrook's article, Living on the AmeriCorps stipend: tips and strategies. For questions or more information on the AmeriCorps program, please contact AmeriCorps manager Mark Lazarra at email@example.com.