Being an Americorps VISTA was a great opportunity for me to get involved with both the Americorps organization and the City of Austin as a whole. I learned a lot about how the City's Public Health department is run and met many people with whom I can network in the future. My job at a community center allowed me to directly connect with so many individuals who are facing poverty, homelessness, and hunger across the city, and revived my desire to fight for social and economic equality in Austin.
What I wish was different
Although i had an enjoyable experience as an Americorps VISTA, I can't deny the economic stress that comes with this position. Although I was paid a monthly stipend, it was minimal, and for my work I was being paid less than minimum wage, around $7.111/hour. As a student who must work to afford her college tuition, I found myself uncertain whether the pay I received for the amount of work I was putting in was fair or just. I appreciate that Americorps allows students such great, hands-on experiences, but because of pay I think these experiences are often restricted to students who have greater privilege. Because I was at work at least 44 hours a week, I didn't have the time or energy to pursue a part-time job, which would have made my economic situation easier.
Think about your position financially and how much time and energy you are willing to invest before you choose an Americorps position. It can be a great experience but it is definitely all about finding a balance between what you want and what you need.