Pros: every third friday off, paid leave, americorps scholarship award
Cons: high hours, low pay, clients having attitudes
During my time as a fellow with the Choice Program, I worked as a mentor to youth in the legal system, the staple of the job being to make home visits from 5:00pm-11:00pm.
Every day would start off with the team meeting to discuss contact with clients over night, followed by planning for the day in the form of deciphering which team member would see – more... which clients at school or home. After making rounds to the schools and homes, everyone was expected to come back to the office, document the day's events, and have another team meeting to discuss information that needed to be relayed to clients, and whoever's turn it was would see clients in the field after 5:00.
While I learned a multitude of things as a Choice fellow, the most important thing I learned was how to effectively work with a team. I was one of three people regularly going into the field to see clients, so it was critical that I communicated my encounters with clients, as well as pay attention to my teammates' encounters, to better service our caseload as a whole.
The staff hierarchy at the time I was working was set up so there were three Fellows on a team, one Service Coordinator directly supervising one team, then two Assistant Directors supervising 2-3 teams at a time, two Directors to oversee all operations, and lastly an Executive Director oversee and represent the entire organization. As a fellow, I had the most contact with my Service Coordinator, and the main thing she did for me was biweekly supervisions where we would talk about how I was doing workwise, as well as set goals for me to turn my weaknesses into strengths and improve through my fellowship.
On average, my coworkers were very sociable individuals that gained energy from being around people. They also had strong hearts for service, and really believed in the AmeriCorps creed, which was "Getting Things Done for America."
The hardest part of the job was working in the field on weekends, because I was required to plan activities with clients, get approval from my Service Coordinator to do the activity, then have my teammates communicate with clients to see who was interested. Furthermore, I would have to sometimes deal with clients not following through with their commitment to participate, and scramble to see if anyone else was interested. The good thing about that part of the job, however, was that it taught me to adapt, think on my feet, and maintain composure when plans fall through.
The most enjoyable part of the job was interacting with clients and being able to see the difference I made in the moment. My favorite example would be one weekend I was working, a youth had a math packet he had to complete, so I made it an activity to help him. As I tutored him, it was clear that he did not understand the material, so I kept thinking of different ways to explain it, until he finally got it and I could tell he understood it. Even though I did not complete the packet with him, it was rewarding to know that I gave him the means to do the packet himself. – less