Tips For Talking About Service with Deborah Cushman

We spoke with Deborah Cushman, Associate Director of the literacy council, about tips for life after VISTA. Here's what she has to say:

 

VISTA service doesn’t tend to require much explanation when you’re communicating with the inside crowd. Plenty of nonprofits and public sector organizations are well-versed in national service. But here are some things to consider when engaging in a job search with audiences who might not know much about VISTA.

On printed materials (resume, cover letters, etc.):

1. If you have space, spell out VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America). It’s a cool acronym but a word that’s used in lots of other ways.

2. Include AmeriCorps before VISTA. Due to its larger size the brand recognition is strong with AmeriCorps; this might give readers a jump start.

3. If the mission of your host site isn’t obvious by its title, include a brief explanation. For example, “ABC Center (social service agency serving youth)”. 

In person:

1. Don’t be shy about asking your listener whether they’re familiar with national service. If they haven’t heard about AmeriCorps VISTA before, start with a quick reference to Peace Corps.

2. Have a couple of concise thoughts ready to share about what motivated you to serve. It’s inspiring to hear about passion translated into action.

3. And on the flip side, if your service isn’t all that applicable to the conversation it’s OK not to spend a lot of time on it. Gauge your audience and respond accordingly.

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