Fighting Poverty with Passion
Hi everybody, thanks for checking back in. It feels like March flew by, and with everything going on in April, it seems like May will be here before I know it! Recruitment is either winding down or ramping up depending upon who you talk to on the VISTA program team. For our WaveCorps program, Amy and Michael have been working hard to interview all of the candidates that have come our way (and seem to keep on coming in droves). The WaveCorps program is an AmeriCorps program that places students from Tulane with one of two organizations that handle youth summer programming. The ages of the kids that the WaveCorps volunteers work with range from young elementary school students all the way up to 18 year old high school students. Therefore appropriately, it’s been important to match the volunteer at the site where they would be working in their most comfortable situation. Some volunteers thrive when given the opportunity to work with young kids on sports and athletics, while others do their best when they’re able to give advice and support to kids closer to their own age. The program lasts only about two months, but the program offers many benefits that are similar to our very own VISTA full year program.
In terms of the VISTA Fellows Program, our recruitment process is at the point where potential candidates have been interviewing with Fellows community partner sites over the past couple of weeks. It’s been really exciting to be able to interview really awesome candidates and ultimately watch them accept offers for a year of service with an organization that they’re passionate about. The process has been going slower than we’d want it to, but that’s part and parcel of working with various community partners, who each have their own busy schedules and programs that they have to take of. It’s a strange feeling, but I feel like I have definitely learned a lot about being on the other side of a recruitment process. There are so many concerns and strategies that you have to take care of all at the same time, as in the end your ultimate goal is still to make sure that all of your sites get a VISTA, and that the site and candidate with the selection. Sometimes it doesn’t go quite as you would have thought, but they end up being amazing placements, and the VISTA makes the job work around what they can bring to the table and what the site has to offer.
I’d say that last point has been one of my biggest learning humps this year. I think in many ways coming out of college, beginning my first long term professional experience, I initially conceived my VISTA placement being all about what role I would ‘fill’. I thought about what needs I needed to shore up, or how to ‘solve the problem’ if that makes sense. What I have come to understand about VISTA and AmeriCorps is that it is much more designed to allow the individual candidate room to operate and conduct projects that they would not only be successful at but that would complement or supplement the work going on at the site. In addition, it’s about what professional goals or activities you want to make sure to begin tackling and experiencing before you eventually step into a formal role after your VISTA year as a development officer, grant writer, program designer, and evaluator/monitor, at an organization.
I’m glad that I’ve had many of my experiences during this past year, and that I’ve had the time to reflect after my projects about what worked, what didn’t, and how I can take it forward after my year here at Tulane VISTA.