In this installation of our Alumni Blog Series, K3 Reading Corps Alumna Lauren discusses her tips for leveraging Reading Corps experience in interviews.
The Next Step: Life as a Reading Corps Alum
Hello, hello, hello! My name is Lauren Pires, and I was a K-3 tutor last year with Reading Corps, serving at Hendley Elementary School in DC. I am currently pursuing my Masters at the London School of Economics and Politics in Gender Policy and Inequalities. It’s a 12 month intensive program that focuses on the social, political and legal aspects of gendered policy, and it is insanely difficult, and intimidating and everything I could hope for!
To say that Reading Corps was seminal and foundational to where I am now would not be an overstatement. I graduated in 2013 from McGill University with a degree in English and just the idea that I wanted to change the world (yes, isn’t that what every liberal arts student wants?). AmeriCorps and Reading Corps fit into that dream both idealistically and as a practical stepping stone, or rather booster, onto the job path I discovered I wanted. Simply being in the thick of it, because Reading Corps focuses on direct service as opposed to other AmeriCorps programs, opened my eyes not only to the inequalities that were being faced, but absolutely reaffirmed my belief that I needed to be affecting change potentially through a legal/political route. So where does a Masters in Gender Studies fit into this? Simple. To get most jobs nowadays not only is experience necessary (thank you Reading Corps), but so is higher education, and a degree in Gender not only gives me a niche angle, but it allows me to incorporate education rights from a gendered perspective.
My last parenthetical serves as the perfect segue into discussing how Reading Corps and AmeriCorps really ameliorated and amped up my application and interviews. Reading Corps gave me experience where I didn’t have any, and that is invaluable. Not only is it experience, but it is the kind of experience that you can talk about for hours, and that kind of passion and devotion comes through in interviews. Furthermore, since AmeriCorps is a year of service for your country, this is extremely helpful when applying to government positions and NGOs. Your year at Reading Corps is going to be insane. It’s going to be challenging, it’s going to keep you on your toes, and it’s going to be insanely rewarding. And this is where it plays perfectly into interviews. Any question they throw at you along the lines of “tell me a time when…” or “explain how you would deal with…”, has happened during Reading Corps. You will come out of this year with an arsenal of professional tools that you would not believe. Working with kids in a challenging environment leaves you better prepared for most things in the working world! I can say this with absolute confidence, because after Reading Corps, I could walk into interviews confidently, and walk out knowing that the merit of my experiences and the weight of the name AmeriCorps were working overdrive in my favor.
I think the only thing I can really say I had wish I had known during the job application and school application process is to be on top of your game. Know the deadlines, and get there early. Some school applications close in October, some in February, but as a rule of thumb, job applications should be in by Dec/Jan!
I want to sign off just by saying: congratulations! Reading Corps is an amazing program and the Literacy Lab is a phenomenal organization. Like I’ve said before, and as I’m sure you’ve heard: this year is going to change your life in the best way, and you will not believe where you will be at the end of the year. The end of the school year is going to sneak up on you, and you will be left with an awesome feeling of accomplishment, experience, and more stories than you could ever possibly tell!