By Jessica Schrader
Edited by Dawn Bush
As we approach the end of our terms of service, some of us are looking at doing another term with AmeriCorps, but many of us are moving on to other things. Some of us may have accepted job offers or plan to attend graduate school, but not everyone knows what they want to do after they complete their 1700 hours of service. I recently talked with Stephanie Klocke, a 2011-2012 Compass AmeriCorps member, about what she’s doing now, almost a year after she finished her year with AmeriCorps.
Where are you from, and where did you go to college? What did you major in?
I’m from the South Hills of Pittsburgh and attended Allegheny College studying Spanish and Economics.
How did you hear about AmeriCorps, and why did you decide to apply?
I was really active in service in college and had many friends who had completed AmeriCorps terms both during undergrad and after they graduated. I’d gone to school thinking I was going to eventually work in international business, but come the end of my senior year when I was actually looking at those jobs realized that I wasn’t that interested. I’d loved interning at a non-profit while I was studying abroad in Argentina, and decided to do AmeriCorps to see if I really wanted to work at a non-profit full time.
Where did you serve? What was your role there?
I served at Catholic Charities as a Refugee Caseworker. I was responsible in guiding refugees through their first 180 days in the United States, beginning about two weeks before their arrival securing housing. Once in the US, I picked clients up from the airport, helped them apply for Social Security numbers and public welfare benefits, coordinated all medical appointments, and enrolled children in school and adults in ESL. As the caseworker I also guided clients through applying for jobs, preparing a resume and cover letter, practicing for interviews and maintained a connection with employers to monitor their progress.
What are you doing now, and how did you get there?
I’m the Volunteer Coordinator for Free Arts NYC, an arts education and mentoring non-profit in New York. I’m responsible for recruiting over 2,000 volunteers to run our programs each year and oversee their training, placement and management. Being able to prioritize and pay attention to details is crucial in my position, so my manager was really impressed during my interview when I told her about my AmeriCorps experience, especially prioritizing and managing case details when a third of Catholic Charities’ refugee clients arrived on the same day! Additionally, because of my service term I was able to speak to my dedication to volunteerism and my understanding of volunteer motivations, both of which are necessary in managing so many volunteers!
How do you feel your experience in AmeriCorps affected your life after your term of service?
To begin with, I decided to pursue work in the non-profit sector because of my term! Though my job now is serving a different population than I did with AmeriCorps, I’m still really interested in working with refugee populations and so have been tutoring individuals studying for their Citizenship Test through the International Rescue Committee. Also, I also feel like I’ve come full circle since my term finished because Free Arts is preparing to bring a pair of new AmeriCorps members onto our team! I’m excited to use the experiences I gained to shape our new members’ projects and support them throughout their term. I’ve also become the designated knowledge source on prohibited activities, so I guess I didn’t get away from that when my term ended!
What was your favorite memory from serving with AmeriCorps?
My favorite memory would have to be the first time that I picked a family up at the airport- they were exhausted from their hours of travel, but so excited to see their new home and discover the new opportunities waiting for them.
Do you have any advice for current members as their terms of service come to an end?
I see a lot of resumes where applicants list their AmeriCorps service as a sort of side note. I may be just a little biased, but Compass is a really challenging, interesting, and unique accomplishment so make the most of it when marketing yourself!