After graduating from college, I wasn’t sure about my next step. I only had retail jobs up until that point and graduating meant that I would have to step out into the professional world. It was intimidating, I knew I wanted to be in the non-profit sector and I knew that I wanted to make a difference, but I wasn’t sure exactly where to start.
In my search I stumbled on Public Allies, an AmeriCorps program. I liked how it was a transitional program that seemed to really focus on fostering leadership development and professional growth. I decided to make the move from Denver to Albuquerque to be a part of this program.
I’m so glad I made the decision, I have gotten to be a part of so many unique opportunities that I wouldn’t have had in a traditional job after college. I also have learned a lot about the unique culture and history of New Mexico, and it’s a place I have grown very fond of.
Through the Public Allies program, I have completed around 200 hours of leadership development training with an anti-racist and equity lens and am about to complete a 1,700 service hour requirement for the 10 months. The program also required me to be to be a part of a cohort gorup that included other Public Allies for learning and support. Moving from another state, having a cohort really set me up for success in Albuquerque. Being around such a likeminded group, I was able to make many friends and connections. Knowing everyone was in the same situation really helped us bond.
As part of my Public Allies requirement, I had to complete a Team Service Project. A Team Service Project can be in any area that the group chooses, as long as the final goal is to build capacity. I was given opportunity to assist an African women’s refugee group focusing on creating a driver’s education program. The goal of this group is to empower the refugee women and increase their self-sufficiency. I helped them with logistics planning, creating flyers for the group, attending meetings and leveraging my connections in the community to help the project lead start her own non-profit organization. It has been exciting working with this group from the beginning and to be able to provide my help to such a valuable cause.
As a Public Ally, I was lucky to have my placement site at Mission: Graduate at United Way of Central New Mexico. I’m part of an inclusive team that provided mentorship on several levels. I feel empowered to ask for help and guidance, and I know that they want to see me succeed. The Mission: Graduate team encouraged me to work in different areas of the organization and I learned new skills. I had the opportunity to be a part of the data team, writing data briefs, creating graphs and researching models to be implemented into community practice. I also worked on social media infographics, created spread sheets and immersed myself into College and Career Readiness work. I was also encouraged to have meetings with staff about my future career goals as well as attend professional development workshops and events.
A big project that I worked on as part of the College and Career Readiness strategy at Mission: Graduate was assisting in a pilot program at College and Career High School with United Way of Central New Mexico’s Young Leaders Society. Committee members organized sessions teaching students about financial literacy, resume building, interviews and overall professionalism skills. I learned what it is like to run a committee and how to manage volunteers. I saw what it takes to create an engaging career exploration experience for high school students, and I worked with a committed group of young professionals that are passionate about inspiring high school students to follow their desired career path.
This support, combined with Public Allies staff support, has given me the confidence to apply for jobs that I, at one point, didn’t think I had the skills for or feel as though I was qualified enough for. The Public Allies trainings, as well as being a part of my cohort of individuals also committed to social justice and helping others has really inspired my career path, and I feel more certain of what I want to pursue in the future. I am grateful for this experience and I am looking forward to what the future holds.