THINGS I LEARNED DURING MY YEAR AS AN AMERICORPS VISTA

  1. Boredom is healthy for the brain.
    If I hadn't been so bored I would never have taken up computer programming to fill my copious spare time. I would never have found my actual dream job.
  2. Too much boredom is soul crushing.
    I spent more lunches eating Wendy's dollar meals alone in my car (frustrated, crying, useless) than I would care to admit.
  3. The larger the nonprofit organization, the more focused they are on their own image than on community improvement.
  4. If an organization respects you and the work that you do, they'll pay you to do it.
  5. Earning less than minimum wage for a year does not teach you about generational poverty.
    It is disingenuous and manipulative of VISTA to claim that it will.
  6. It's important to find a job where you have something in common with your coworkers.
    If you can't find common ground, flee.
  7. There are some people who will never upgrade to stronger passwords no matter how hard you try.
    And no matter how many times their Twitter account gets compromised as a result.
  8. Nonprofits are staffed mostly by women, but you'll still probably find more men in management positions.
  9. The education award at the end of your service is not as useful as you think it will be.
  10. You can write as many internal social media policies as you want. No one will follow them. Or read them.
  11. "Capacity building" is a buzzword used to contract short term labor to do the work of a full employee without paying for benefits.
    Buzzwords and phrases are something to watch out for in general. Hearing someone say "move the needle" now makes me want to stick a rusty needle through my eye.
  12. I really cannot stress this enough: if they aren't paying you, they don't respect you or your work.
    You should not have to live like a saint to work in nonprofits (or teaching, or social work, or as a public defender, etc.). The work itself should not be your only reward. Warm fuzzy feelings do not put a roof over your head. http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4060311
  13. Make friends with the IT folks.
    They're probably the coolest people in the building and they definitely have the best coffee stashed away in a secret location. I'm not just saying this because I work in tech now. You can never go wrong making friends in IT. If nothing else, you'll get your computer fixed quicker.
  14. No one knows how to use LinkedIn.