Public Spirit, May 2015

Happy June, Folks!

Along with higher chances of sunshine, June also brings your newest edition of Public Spirit. Not only will you find articles on how to finally pull off that camping trip of your dreams without breaking the bank, but also how to properly celebrate National Great Outdoors Month. Being that many AmeriCorps members have service years coming to a close, we also included a cheat sheet to the ever-dreaded interview and resume process that many are likely to encounter within the next couple months. If you’re looking for summer employment or wondering what AmeriCorps members plan on doing after their service year, scroll down to get advice and find the answer! We really pulled out all the stops on your penultimate Public Spirit of the service year, and now it’s time to sit back, relax, and read away.

Let’s Go Camping!

When thinking of things to do this summer, your mind might automatically think of lying on the beach, riding bikes at Lake Calhoun, and eating ice cream. Why not get more in touch with nature? If you have never gone camping before, or if you have and it’s been a while, here is a quick and dirty guide for a great tenting camping trip. Have fun, be safe and say hi to Mother Nature for us!

Step One: Location, Location, Location

After making the solid decision to go on a camping adventure, first decide if you want to go with friends or alone and pick a weekend that works for either your camping group or yourself. Then comes the fun part; deciding where to camp!

If you don’t have a campground you’ve been dying to check out, visit this website to help you decide where to go. You can search for campgrounds based on ratings, amenities, swimming, entertainment, location, etc. to ensure you find the best site for what you want out of your experience. Finding a camping site that fits your needs is important, and unless you want to go completely rustic, make sure the site has good toilet and water supplies.

Prices range from free to expensive, so be sure to check out prices! If you’re interested in trying to camp for free (of course you are!), check out this article for hints and tips. 

Step Two: Camping Supplies

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Once you have all the details worked out, it’s time to make sure you have the things you need! Check out this camping supply checklist:

  • Tent (we all have to start somewhere)
  • Mallet or hammer to pound tent stakes into the ground
  • Ground cover or tarp
  • Sleeping gear (sleeping bag, pillows, blankets, camp pad if you’re feeling fancy)
  • Flashlight/lantern with fresh batteries
  • First aid kit (safety first, kids)
  • Towels
  • Insect repellent and citronella candles
  • Layered clothing including rain gear
  • Toiletries
  • Folding chair(s) for around the campfire
  • Food and supplies, including can opener if necessary
  • Firewood and waterproof matches (but some sites don’t let you bring your own)
  • S’mores supplies (a necessity)

Keep in mind each camping trip is unique and requires different items depending on the time of year, amenities available at the campsite and personal preference! If you don’t have all items listed, ask to borrow them from someone you know to avoid high costs. Check out a detailed list from REI here.

            Step 3: Camping Pro Tips and Life Hacks

Once you leave civilization and arrive at your campsite, follow these tips to get the most out of your camping experience!

  • Arrive during the day time so you don’t have to set up your tent in the dark.
  • PRO TIP: if you’ve never set up a tent before, practice before getting to the campsite.
  • Ensure your tent zipper is all the way closed to avoid a mosquito feast.
  • Don’t underestimate how cold it gets come nighttime! Bring lots of clothing layers and multiple blankets.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time and bring all necessary items, including pots and pans, a cooler with ice, and a camping grill to place over the fire if that’s how you plan on preparing your food.
  • Safety first! Set up your tent far away from the campfire and clean up after each meal to avoid attracting animals. Don’t ever leave a fire unattended, and avoid setting up a tent under tree branches.
  • Leave no trace; make sure when it comes time, the camping site looks the same as when you got there.

Enjoy your time in the Great Outdoors and God Bless America!

 

Plans After Service? We Asked and You Answered!

We asked our readers and social media followers to respond to a brief survey about future plans after service. We had a whopping 61 responses to this survey – shout out to AmeriCorps VISTAMinnesota Green CorpsMinnesota Opportunity Corps, andMinnesota Reading Corps for being the top responders! Thanks also to NW Sector Alliance, Veteran’s Justice Corps, Promise Fellows, College Possible, CTEP, and AmeriCorps State members for your responses.

So, what did people say? Check it out, below!

Most people (31%) indicated that they would look for a non-profit job after service. Furthermore, many respondents answered that they would apply for a second year of service (about 20%). That’s great!

Some of the Other responses include: “Find a position in education and reform,” “Get hired by my site,” “Finish my senior year of college,” “Volunteer/work on a political campaign,” and “Peace Corps.”

We asked if service members have started planning or applying for their next positions. Thankfully, most members (77%) responded to this question with yes. The next highest was “No, and dear goodness please help me!” (13%). To those folks, check out the resume and interview tips later on in this article, as well as last month’s piece titled Life After Service.

Next we asked how people react emotionally when asked about their plans for next year. Equal amounts of folks feel “prepared and excited” and “prepared but unsure” (33% for each category). About 20% of respondents wet their pants a little when asked that question. We hope that Memorial Day family time did not include too many wet pants.

Our final two questions were open response questions. The general response categories and their amounts are as follows:

We asked: What are you concerned about for the future?

  • Not being able to find a (good) job – 40%
  • Money OR Housing woes – 25%
  • General uncertainty – 10%
  • Uncertainty about graduate school – 8%
  • Lack of career direction – 5%
  • Will I continue in a helping role? – 2%

Understandably, most are concerned about not finding a job – and specifically not getting a relevant and enjoyable job. The next greatest concern is financial and housing security.

Responses include: “I do not know what direction I want my career path to go,” “I wonder if I will ever go to grad school,” “Job. No job, no money.” “Everyone else seems to have their [stuff] together, but I don’t!” “I’m afraid I won’t be happy doing my next position,” and “Will I be able to continue to help the youth who need help?”

We asked: What are you excited about for the future?

  • Greater financial security and comfortable employment – 41%
  • Doing more of the service I love – 13%
  • New and exciting opportunities (for growth or employment) – 33%
  • Using skills gained from service for my career – 5%
  • Taking a break and enjoying less stress – 8%

Not surprisingly, financial security was the number one response. While service members have huge love and appreciation for service, we’ve definitely felt the financial strain of living on a stipend. 

Responses include: “To not get sick as much because I won’t be around kids all day!” “Looking back at all the students I have worked with that have exited!” “Making improvements and coming up with even more ways to motivate kids to read!” “All of the professional skills I’ve learned!” “Getting some time in the summer for myself!” “Start new adventure,” “Get real $$$$$$$$$$$” “Maybe getting paid a little bit more, but I have loved serving for four years,” and “Starting my new job as a social worker!” 


Congrats to the person with the social worker job! And kudos to the person who served for four years!

 

How to Get Started on Your Career:

For many of us, right now is a dreadful part of the year; your service year is coming to an end and now you have to find a job. What’s even worse? Resumes and interviews! Many of you are probably questioning where to even start. If you’re not serving another year, here are some websites to get you started:

            Non-profit work (MN): http://www.minnesotanonprofits.org/jobs/

           Federal government jobs: https://www.usajobs.gov/

            State jobs (MN): https://statejobs.doer.state.mn.us/JobPosting

            Other: https://pollenmidwest.org/opportunities and http://www.idealist.org/

 

RESUMES:

Did you know that based on which industry you go into, the resume requirements are different?

  • If you want a nonprofit job, the organization will be looking for a good fit in their workplace culture and want to see your results. For more information, see the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ Job Seeker Guide here.
  • If you want a federal government job, resumes can be anywhere from 3 to 15 pages long. They want the details, including salary and hours worked per week. Include work, volunteer, academic, and extracurricular accomplishments. For more information, check out advice from the Department of Homeland Securityhere.
  • For private/for-profit companies, they are looking for big achievements. Use the industry language in writing your resume. Get more advice from the Harvard Business Review here.

 Here are a couple links that will describe how to write a resume:

 

INTERVIEWS:

Most employers will interview quite a few people for one position, so it is important for you to set yourself apart from the rest. Here are some tips to do that:

  • Dress to impress; no matter what the job is or where it is, you always want to dress your best. Do not wear baggy clothes or over-the-top jewelry; keep it simple but classy.
  • Do research on the company before the interview. Know as much about them as you can. You want to show them that you did your research!
  • First impression is everything.
    • Show up early! You should have no excuse to come late. To make sure you are there early, do a test run a day or two before the interview to see how long it will take you to get there.
    • While waiting, sit up straight and look prepared. Don’t be on your phone or tablet, etc.
    • Greet them with a smile and a handshake. Practice your handshake with other people to make sure it is not too strong or too weak.
  • Many companies now do panel interviews. Be prepared that there may be multiple people interviewing you.
  • Make sure you come up with questions before the interview to ask them at the end. You generally want three to five questions to ask them. The questions should show that you’ve researched the organization and have been thinking about the position. Questions could also include something they mentioned during the interview, so you can learn more about a challenge they’re trying to address, or a short-term goal they have for the position.
  • Make sure you have a closing statement showing how interested you are in the position. Shake their hand and thank them for their consideration.
  • Bring extra copies of your resume and ask if they need a copy.
  • Send a thank-you card to each person in the interview. Sharing how your skills can address the goals they articulated in the interview is a great way to set yourself apart.

Interview DONT’S:

  • Do not bring up pay.
  • Do not chew gum or crack jokes.
  • Do not discuss former bosses, especially if it is negative.
  • Do not lie.

Good luck AmeriCorps friends, and deep breath-you can do it!

 

Get Outside! – National Great Outdoors Month

June is the nationally designated Great Outdoors Month, and to get people in the spirit of going outside and connecting with nature, there are numerous activities and events being planned that you can take part in throughout the month of June. Whether it’s hiking, fishing, camping or doing it all for the first time, here is a list of activities going on in the month of June. So get out there and enjoy the Great Outdoors!

June 6 – National Trails Day

June 6-13 – National Fishing & Boating Week

June 13 – National Get Outdoors DayNational Marina Day

June 19 – Great Outdoors Month Day of Service

June 27 – Great American Campout

As part of National Great Outdoors Month, National Great Outdoors Day is a great way to see some of Minnesota’s State Parks for free! This year National Great Outdoors Day lands on Saturday, June 13, 2015and admission to all Minnesota State Parks is free. In addition, many parks will be holding special events such as archery, bird and flower hikes, and free fishing programs. There will also be concerts at Itasca State Park, located northwest of the Twin Cities, and Blue Mounds State Park, located southwest of the Twin Cities. There will be a Family Outdoor Fair at Whitewater State Park, located in the southeastern part of Minnesota, and a selfie scavenger hunt at Interstate State Park, also in the northeast part of Minnesota. Several public paddles will be on the  between Granite Falls and the Twin Cities.

If you’re looking to go up north, Split Rock Lighthouse historical site will have an open house June 13, along with the state park. The park will offer storytelling about the shipwrecks of 1905 and host a guided bike ride on the Gitchi-Gami Trail to Iona’s Beach natural area.

To give you some more ideas of where to get started, we’ve compiled a few parks around Minnesota with cheap entrance or even free entrance to the parks!

Mississippi National River and Recreation Area has no admission fee year-round. It is located in the middle of the bustling urban city of Minneapolis with plenty to do including hiking, biking, canoeing, fishing, and camping. While you’re there, you can also visit the Science Museum of Minnesota, which also has free admission.

Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway is just east of the Twin Cities and has no entrance fees year-round on federal lands. You can use the 60 landings, 100+ riverside campsites, seven hiking trails, two visitor centers, and 255 miles of river for free. However, there are fees at state parks and other private lands within the boundaries of the national park.

Pipestone National Monument’s entrance pass is only $3.00 per person, age 16 and up year-round and is valid for seven days! Pipestone, Minnesota is southwest of the Twin Cities and there you’ll find many activities to keep you busy as well as nearby campground sites to spend the night! Some activities at Pipestone National Monument include: Touring the Visitor Center, seeing the Museum Exhibits, going on the Nature Walk; Circle Trail, and watching “Pipestone: An Unbroken Legacy”; a 22-minute film..

If you want more information on how to find the nearest state park to you, check out this neat Park Finder from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Enjoy the Great Outdoors!

 

Summer Employment

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Alright folks, who’s ready to get a summer job? As with most things, the hardest part is beginning.

When looking for part-time, evening, weekend, or seasonal work you have to consider what jobs are part-time, evening, weekend, or seasonal jobs! Who knew?

Let’s begin with a few Evenings/Weekends jobs:

Evenings/Weekends: Many people get out and about when they’re not on the job. Consider the restaurant industry. Restaurants are constantly looking for bussers, washers and servers for peak hours. There are tons of restaurants/bars around no matter where one lives. When looking at places to apply, consider a few of your favorites. Alternatively, if you don’t care to kill your cravings, consider venues thataren’t your favorites, so as not to saturate your senses with the things you love!

Seasonal Employment: The key to finding seasonal employment is thinking about what is seasonal. Roadwork is a given. Look for construction jobs. A simple Google search will crash your browser with results. And unless you’re a hard-core winter sports person, or a winter bicyclist, being outside is a seasonal activity we ought to take full advantage of.

 If you’d like to be outside during your summer job, look into parks. Minnesota has lotsof them. If you start now you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding places to apply. Don’t forget swimming pools and water parks – which are in need of lifeguards and park/beach cleanup crews. Gardening is also seasonal; are there any nurseries around that could use some help? Take a look. 

Other Part-Time employment:

There is an abundance of other options, but here are a few other ideas of where to look:

  • Work at a coffeehouse.
  • Grocery store; as the summer months roll along, folks will continue to be needed for customer service, cashiering, and bagging.

These are just a few ideas to get you started on your job search.

Remember these tips:

  • If you haven’t started, start now.
  • Make goals for yourself. Have five applications out by the end of the week.
  • Talk to friends to see if they know somewhere hiring.
  • Consider jobs that interest you or fit your employment conditions (part-time, evening, weekend, seasonal, etc.)
  • Don’t be deterred by lack of experience. We’re AmeriCorps folk; we succeed daily in the face of challenges. Let employers know that. Remember, wherever you find a job, they’ll train you to their specifications.
  • Call sites, let them know you’re applying and ask them about what they’re looking for in employees – and be honest about what you need in the job!
  • Lastly, don’t sell yourself short. If granted an interview, explain to them what you have to offer. Apply your skills to their needs. I, for instance, might throw down the argument: “I was a math tutor for two years, so I can break down the process of making coffee to instruct our patrons as to what they’re drinking. They, in turn, will have a better understanding of what they like, and have more confidence, and passion, in coffee!”. Boom, done. The job is yours.

Cheers folks! And good luck job-searching.

 

To view the list of all ICC members, including the names of the Communications Committee who bring you your monthly Public Spirit, click on this link.

That’s all, folks! Stay tuned for the last Public Spirit of the ICC year coming to you next month! Stay classy!