By Sherry Leung, AmeriCorps Member, Serving at McDonough Elementary School
From a young age, I always knew that I wanted to make a career in the education sector. For me, I saw a career in education as a way to combine my two passions of service and continuous learning. Throughout college, I immersed myself in a variety of different opportunities in education from being a camp counselor, a Resident Assistant and a student teacher. When my senior year came, I was confused about what exactly I wanted to do in education. When I learned about City Year, I knew it was the perfect option for a gap year because it would provide me with multiple opportunities to discover where I belonged in the education sector.
As an organization, City Year encourages its corps members to begin thinking about their Leadership After City Year (LACY) plans so that they can take what they’ve learned through their service and apply it in a professional setting. Putting such an emphasis on LACY planning gave me the opportunity to connect with existing partners and alumni to learn more about my interests through an event called 18 Minute Networking.
18 Minute Networking brings together City Year Alumni and partners to speak with current corps members about professional or academic fields of interest. The goal is to provide current corps members with an honest perspective of what to expect in a given field and how alumni made that transition from being a corps member to that professional role. Corps members had the opportunity to rotate between three different groups to have discussions with alumni and were encouraged to bring their own questions.
In my 18 Minute Networking sessions, I was able to meet with alumni who served in different capacities in the field of education. I was able to learn what a day in school was like for an alumni who became a high school education teacher versus an alumni who chose to become a behavioral specialist. I learned how the skills I developed at City Year could be transferred to help other education non-profits close the education gap or the value of strong communication skills when mentoring young people in a higher education setting.
The conversations that I shared with alumni and partners made me aware of the limitless possibilities for me in the future. Their actions showed me that I can continue to serve others no matter what role in education I ultimately choose.