My Potential Plans After Graduation: AmeriCorps

By: David

As some or none of you may know, I will be graduating from college in about three semesters. As a current senior, I have yet to make future plans as to what opportunities and steps to take for life after graduation. Some days it scares me, other days it excites me, and some other days where I’m very, “Graduation? Meh.” Lately, I have been having instances of  zoning out about my plans for the future. Coming into the semester, I had a clear cut plan for post-graduation, but throughout the semester my life experiences has open my perspective to other possibilities and doors. To keep it brief, one opportunity that I have always considered is volunteering as an AmeriCorps member. After doing some research, I was able to uncover some interesting facts about AmeriCorps.

Branches of AmeriCorps

Within the AmeriCorps program, there are various branches that AmeriCorps breaks up into, but for the purpose of this blog post I will be mentioning three main branches: AmeriCorps NCCC, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps State & National.

AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC)
To start off, the AmeriCorps NCCC branch focuses more so on strengthening communities through community service. Certain projects could range to helping local and national parks with conservation of wildlife to infrastructure improvement. Within this branch, there are two possible paths for members, the Traditional and FEMA Corps. The Traditional Corps would focus more so on hands-on projects in certain field settings to accomplish the NCCC’s mission which is to help better communities. On the other hand, the FEMA Corps focuses more so on responding to disasters. To better understand this, the acronyms FEMA stands for, Federal Emergency Management Agency. Members in this branch would travel to strengthen communities across the nation.

AmeriCorps Volunteers In Service To America  (VISTA)
To shift gears, the AmeriCorps VISTA’s goal is to “fight poverty in America” according to the website. Members of this branch typically live and serve in low-income areas of the nation, and many of the projects are designed to bring individuals and communities out of poverty. Some of examples may range from organizing shelter and job opportunities to assisting victims of disaster to recruiting mentors for children with an absence of support.  

AmeriCorps State & National (SN)
Lastly, the AmeriCorps State & National is by far the broadest branch because it offers a wide-range of opportunities to engage in critical community needs such as education, public safety, health, and environmental. Projects within this range may vastly range from community outreach and financial education to collaborating with Girl/Boy Scouts.


In the program, there are multiple areas and fields that members can dive into. Depending on what your interests are, they can filter out specific programs for you for the AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps SN. Due to the breadth of content, feel free to explore the website some more to better grasp an understanding of the various areas that they offer, “AmeriCorps Focus Areas.”  

AmeriCorps VISTA

AmeriCorps VISTA

AmeriCorps SN

AmeriCorps SN


Though the wage may not be the most captivating, there are definitely benefits to being an AmeriCorps member. For college graduates, the most appealing benefit would be the Segal Education Award. In a nutshell, the education award allows you to pay off any previous student loans, current or future educational expenses in higher education or training programs, or can be transferred to any child or grandchild under certain circumstances. Here is a chart indicating the various sum amount of the award:

Segal Education Award

In addition to the education award, other benefits as an AmeriCorps member may include training, limited health care, relocation expenses, student-loan forbearance or deferment, and non-competitive eligibility for a federal government position.

To conclude, I want to personally emphasize on a key component. Though the wage may be discouraging but the benefits appealing, it seems that the main purpose of the AmeriCorps program is to assist and help other individuals and communities to flourish to success. I understand that it is very cliche to say that the best benefit to the experience is making the world a better place, but in reality it actually is. Throughout the years, I have seen myself and others stray away from the concept of collectivism and towards individualism. Not to say that one is better than the other, but sometimes in order for us, as individuals to become better than yesterday we have to help ourselves and also those around us to efficiently flourish as one.  For some like myself, the end goal is not money, but happiness within yourself and others. I’d like to leave off with a quote I came across earlier this week that has inspired me to continue helping others, “Money is nothing but numbers, and numbers never end. If money is what it takes for someone to be happy, then the search for happiness will never end.” Enjoy the holidays, stay safe, warm, and as always, stay gold!

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Putting the Assessments All Together

By: Logan

The career assessments offered at the Career and Internship Services Office are very beneficial in many ways. These assessments can help you target your strengths, where your interests lie, or find out more about your personality. Some people just take one or two of these assessments and learn from the individual results, but by taking all three and comparing results you can learn a lot more about yourself. You can observe where similarities may lie, or where there may be some differences. In my experience, comparing all three assessments helped me realize more about myself, and it helped me realize how I can incorporate these results into my everyday life.

My favorite assessment by far was StrengthsQuest. I really enjoyed seeing where my strengths lie and which strengths were the most prominent in my life. My top five strengths are consistency, harmony, positivity, includer, and futuristic. I found it helpful to learn this information because I can see where I excel, and I can also see where I may need improvement. After receiving my results, it made me more aware of these strengths I possess, and I felt more inclined to use them in my professional and everyday life. An example would be the fact that I have consistency as a top strength. I use this in my job by providing the same customer service experience to everyone who walks in the door. I treat everyone the same and do not give special treatment to some. I think consistency is a very important skill in my line of work. So just realizing what your skills are can benefit you in many different ways.

It is important to look at similarities between the different assessment results. By doing this you will make sure you get the most out of the assessments. I began to look more into my results to see if there were any similarities I could find. One theme I found throughout all of the assessments was communication and being social. On the Myers-Briggs I showed preference as an extrovert, and on my Strong Interest Inventory my highest theme was Social. I thought this was very accurate and I was not surprised this theme came up in each assessment. I like to work with people and I like to communicate with others, so I think it is accurate to have social themes on each of my assessments.

Another theme I noticed multiple times was being futuristic. As I said before, Futuristic is one of my top strengths on StrengthsQuest, but I saw evidence of this in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as well. I showed a preference for Intution, which means I will probably prefer an occupation that permits me to focus on the future, envisioning the possibilities of a person or a situation. I find this to be true. I consider myself a rather futuristic person. I am constantly thinking about the future and how my actions now may affect me down the road, so I was not surprised when I saw futuristic as a common theme on these assessments.

Another similarity I noticed in my results was feeling and people skills. The Myers-Briggs told me I was more on the feeling side, which means I would prefer an occupation where I would focus on people and process issues rather than the technical problems. It also means I would try to understand the particular needs or contributions of the individuals with those I work with. I think this relates to my results from the Strong Interest Inventory where Social was my top theme. This shows I prefer to work with people and be social with them, as opposed to working alone and focusing on technical details.

I think I learned a lot more from comparing my results from all three assessments. If I had not compared my results I may not have believed them as much, but after I saw physical evidence of these skills in multiple assessments, it made me very confident in the assessments’ accuracy at describing me. I believe everyone should review their results from all three of the assessments we offer, because you can learn a lot more about yourself than you would if you only looked at your results individually.

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Bringing the Magic to Life: What Harry Potter Taught Me About Success

By: Katie

In previous posts, I wrote about what Harry Potter taught me about myself and about others. For my last post in this series, I’m going to write about what Harry Potter taught me about success.

Success isn’t simple.
I’m a firm believer that success in one area of your life isn’t worth it if it comes at the cost of another.  It’s easy to develop tunnel vision when it comes to striving to achieve your goals, but it’s important to remember that achieving your goals alone won’t necessarily mean success. Voldemort had power, intimidation, and at face value was very successful in achieving his goal of being in extreme power. However, he was alone. He didn’t have friends, and the only people who stuck close to him did so more out of fear or obsession than anything positive. Voldemort was so committed to becoming all-powerful that he focused on only that, leading a lonely life because of it. Sacrificing meaningful relationships, happiness, health, or your sanity to maintain your 4.0 just isn’t worth it.

HP Success

You’ll fail along the way.
If anyone exemplifies this idea, it is the Harry Potter characters. How many times did the “good guys” try to get rid of Voldemort? How many times did Voldemort try to get rid of them? Countless, practically. However, both sides continued to fight for what mattered to them. One side fought for cruelty while the other fought for peace, but still, they didn’t let failure after failure stop them, and their string of failures eventually led to a final success (well, for one side, anyway).  Failure is an unavoidable byproduct of working toward something important or doing something you care about. Whether it be to defeat an evil lord or get a job you love, you’re not going to get the “happy ending” you want without some unhappy circumstances beforehand.

Sometimes you need to break the rules.
Sometimes authority just needs to be challenged. Sometimes the status quo should be thrown out. And sometimes, the way to succeed is to forget the rules and follow your own. When Harry, Ron, and Hermione broke into Bellatrix’s vault at Gringotts to search for a horcrux, Harry used the imperius curse on a goblin so they could get inside. The imperius curse is one of the unforgivable curses, so named because it is considered so awful that its use is an unforgivable offense and will land you a lifelong prison sentence. However, they may not have gotten to the vault without its use. While this act wasn’t necessarily ethical or moral, arguably, Harry had no choice. Sometimes you can’t get where you want to be from inside the confines of what’s expected, what’s always been done, or what is deemed correct. While I don’t condone breaking laws that exist to protect others, there are times when established systems might not allow for the success you seek. When that happens, consider developing your own system instead.

We have about 1 million words detailing the experience of the Harry Potter characters (I got that number from Yahoo Answers, so it must be right). In those words, we find countless lessons that can guide our decisions, actions, and feelings toward others, ourselves, and success. The situations in your life may not involve defeating a dark lord or manipulating the world with magic, but the story of Harry Potter can still provide with wisdom you can apply to your own muggle life.

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APIA Leadership: Beyond the Boat

By: David

The notion of leadership is one that is highly valued among many individuals. In addition, race and diversity is a topic that is consistently prevalent in our society. When blending the two, the two elements complement one another quite well. Recently in life, there has been many events relating to  the two topics. Within this past month, I have had to plan for Asian Pacific American Association’s (APAA) Annual Culture Show, partake in various student of color panels, and discuss about cross-cultural communication. In addition, the recent events at the University of Missouri and Paris has definitely impacted me as an individual by urging me to reevaluate myself as an Asian Pacific American leader.  Today’s blog post zooms in on the two notions of leadership and culture, Asian Pacific Islander Leadership: Beyond the Boat.

Bamboo Ceiling

Before starting, I want to take some time to talk about the “bamboo ceiling” phenomenon. The term “bamboo ceiling” derives from Jane Hyun’s book Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians. To sum it up, the term refers to the barriers and limitations to Asian Pacific Americans to rise to leadership roles it. In regards to the historical context, before the modern days in Asia many people would built their homes out of straws, mud, and bamboo. Figuratively speaking, the “bamboo ceiling” is what limits Asian Pacific Americans in career success. Once the rooftop is sealed, an individual can only achieve so much, and therefore it often restricts one’s ability to reach their full potential.  

Beyond the Boat

As part of the title, I decided to include the phrase “Beyond the Boat.” Though there are numerous interpretations to this phrase, this is one concrete way of defining it:
“The concept of ‘Beyond the Boat’ was taken from the phrase, ‘Fresh off the Boat.’  The term ‘FOB’ often limits immigrants and Asian Americans, a way of making generalizations.  ‘Beyond the Boat’ was used to seek out the ways APIs were complex and rich in history, especially through activism, solidarity, and social change.” – Verna Wong

The term “fresh off the boat” is an older term for immigrants who are new to the United States who are freshly arriving off the boat (this was before air travel was a possibility). Altogether, we have the phrase, “fresh off the boat.” One thing to be aware of is that with race and culture there also comes many generalizations and stereotyping. The phrase “Beyond the Boat” is a way for individuals or a culture group to break these stereotypes and generalizations to overcome such judgements and expectations.

Relating back to the topic of leadership, the image of Asian Pacific Americans in leadership roles is one that is barely visible. According to LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics), “less than 3% of the leadership of the nation’s top for-profit and non-profit groups are Asian Pacific Americans.”  With such a low percentage of role models, it’s difficult as an Asian Pacific American student to see a future past the “bamboo ceiling.” As an Asian American in today’s society, there is a lot of  concern as to what leadership opportunities are available for myself and others in the future. To go “beyond the boat” requires me to constantly step outside my comfort zone and always having to put in the extra effort to be acknowledged. Furthermore, this phrase inspires me to break the stereotypes and generalizations revolving around Asian Pacific Americans and also to increase the 3% of APIAs in leadership roles.


To conclude, the duty of being a leader is never an easy task to do. From any standpoint, there will always be some form of systematic oppression despite circumstances. As a student leader for APAA, I find it most difficult promoting such events and activities relating to the Asian Pacific culture and showing the common interest for those who may not identify with the culture itself. Furthermore, I find it difficult to motivate my fellow peers to embrace the trait of being a leader to increase the 3% due to the lack of APIA role models in society. As many millennials begin to enter leadership roles after college, it will be interesting to see how the percentage of leaders with a different ethnic background evolve throughout the years.

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I Have No Idea What I’m Doing, but I Know I’m Doing it Really, Really Well

By: Cassie

I will be the first to admit I don’t really have it all together. Don’t get me wrong there are occasional moments when I feel like I might pull it together, and yet another curveball is thrown at me. Life as a college student is stressful, and I’ve accepted that it’s okay to feel like your world is falling apart. We all have exams, papers, and hours of homework and reading to do (pro tip: yes, when a professor assigns readings you are actually supposed to do them). On top of all of that we balance social lives, jobs, internships, clubs, sports, and let’s not forget to add in time to eat and sleep. But fear not, because I am here to tell you that it is okay to not be okay all the time.

Sometimes, doing things the hard way is the best way to do them. That’s not saying it doesn’t stink when you make a mistake, because it really does, but sometimes learning lessons the hard way might be the most effective way to get them across. As an example, say you stayed in bed all day and watched a whole season of your favorite show on Netflix instead of studying for your midterm. You probably didn’t do so well on the exam and you now know that in order to succeed you have to be willing to put in the work. It’s okay that those mistakes happen now because then you’ll know you can’t do that when you get out into the real world. Believe it or not, when we get out into the real world our lives will get even more chaotic. The more lessons we learn now, the more we will be prepared for our future.

The future is scary and you might not know what your future will hold. The thing you have to remember is that you don’t always have to know exactly what you’re doing. Now is the time to try new things, get involved, and find out what you really like to do. It is better to find out you don’t like something now, rather than later. If you have any questions about careers, absolutely come see our counselors at Career and Internship Services. They can help you take the first steps to find where you want to go, or get you going towards your goals. They can also help you talk through any issues you might have or that may come up in the process. Taking the first step is the best thing you can do to figure out what you want to do. I know that talking about the future is scary and that it might just scare you away if you are already dealing with all of the other stuff in your life, but I can’t emphasize enough about having a plan for yourself. You don’t have to follow the plan exactly, but having some sort of structure will help you navigate whatever comes your way.

We might not always know what we want, what we need, or how to get where we’re going. That doesn’t mean you are a mess. There are so many people who are willing to help you and so many lessons you can learn in the process. Yeah, growing up is scary, but if you want to get the most out of your college experience I think that it is important that I emphasize how okay it is to not be okay. You can be a mess and still have it together. Even if you don’t have it all together just remember that even if you don’t know what you’re doing, make sure that you are doing it really, really well.

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What I Wish I Had Known

By: Logan

Everyone learns a lot during their first few years of college. It is a time of exploration and gaining new experiences. Being a Junior, I sometimes look back at my Freshman self and wonder if things could have been different. I wonder what my college career would look like if I knew all of the things I know now. I’m not saying I made a lot of bad choices as a freshman, but I know that if I had the knowledge I have now, I could have improved my professional development and made college more enjoyable overall. As a part of my role as a peer educator, I want people to hear some things that I wish I knew when I first came into college.

Person & Night Sky

One of the biggest mistakes I made coming into college was the decision to decide on a major right away before actually researching it and making sure it was what I wanted to do. I was unsure of what I wanted to do when I first came to college, but I thought that I had to choose a major right away. I decided to follow in my brother’s footsteps and study Exercise Science. I quickly learned you should never decide on a major because of what your siblings or parents did. Everyone is different, and we all have different interests and skills. I quickly realized where I had made my mistake. I didn’t feel right in the classes, and I was struggling to keep up with the material because I had no interest in it. If you are a Freshman and are undecided on a major, do not rush. You have plenty of time to figure out what interests you and where your skills lie. If you try to quickly declare a major for the wrong reasons, you will be disappointed. If you are having trouble finding a major that interests you, try coming to Career and Internship Services. You can set up a 1 on 1 meeting with one of our counselors and discuss different options that would suit you. You can also take different career assessments, such as the Strong Interest Inventory, StrengthsQuest, or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which can help you identify your individual interests, strengths, and personality.

As a freshman I was constantly told, “Get Involved!” This could mean joining clubs or organizations, getting an on-campus job, or simply being more active on-campus. As a freshman I only joined one organization, which was a fraternity. I got out of it exactly what I wanted: new friends, volunteering and leadership experience, and a large network of other students and faculty. Looking back at it now, I gained so much from joining this one organization, and sometimes I wonder how much more I could have gotten if I had joined more than one organization. Being involved not only looks good on your resume, but it is a great way to meet people who have similar interests as you. If you are having trouble meeting new people, then joining a club or organization could be the best way to overcome this issue. Another benefit to getting involved is that you may be exposed to different leadership positions within the organization. This could mean being the Treasurer, Secretary, or even President of any particular club. Taking on these leadership roles looks great on your resume, and they can help you learn new skills to help you continue your professional development.

The last piece of advice I would give to anyone who is coming into college would be to try and make as many new friends as you can your Freshman year. Many people meet a friend on their first day of college and tend to stick with that person because they do not know anyone else. I recommend you try to meet as many people as you can because you never know who you might meet. And it makes the campus feel a lot smaller when you can walk through the halls and recognize a few faces. So don’t be afraid to start a conversation with someone in your class, or introduce yourself to everyone on your dorm floor.

There are a lot of things that I wish I had known when I was a freshman, and I would have benefitted greatly if I had been able to read this blog post when I was first coming into college. Your freshman year is a time to try new things and meet new people, so do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and gain some new experiences. I promise that you will thank yourself when you reach your senior year and you have no regrets about your freshman year.

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Photo source: Unsplash|Greg Rakozy

Exploring Careers in Psychology

By: Logan

Being a psychology major, I am often asked what I aspire to do with my life after graduation. I have put many hours of thought into this, and every day I come up with new ideas or career paths I might be interested in. One of the aspects of psychology I enjoy is the fact you can go in many different directions with it. You can use psychology in a very wide range of careers ranging from mental health and counseling to even applying it in a business setting. In this blog post I will be discussing some of the possible career paths I am interested in, and hopefully my story can help others decide on their career path as well.

A very common career path for psychology majors involves something with counseling. This could include many different types of counseling. Some examples include Mental Health Counseling, Family or Marriage Counseling, or even Career Counseling. My interest in counseling developed when I became close with the many Career Counselors who work in Career & Internship Services here at UMD. I met with them and they always made me feel so comfortable and they were always so helpful. I realized I wanted to help people as well, so I have definitely looked into different counseling programs.

Exploring Psych

Another area that I looked at was School Psychology. I think I would enjoy school psychology because I find Developmental Psychology and Educational Psychology very interesting. I enjoy learning about how someone’s experiences as a child can affect their adult life. School psychologists work with individual students and groups of students to deal with behavioral problems, academic difficulties, disabilities, and other issues. They also work with teachers and parents to develop techniques to deal with home and classroom behavior. Other tasks include training students, parents, and teachers about how to manage crisis situations and substance abuse problems. I think I would be good at this profession because I like to work with children and adults, and I think it would be a very rewarding career.

I also have looked into a career as a rehabilitation psychologist. Rehabilitation psychology is a very broad area of psychology, and it covers a wide range of different psychological problems. Many rehabilitation psychologists specialize in certain areas of this field, and they only work with certain types of patients. Job duties for a rehabilitation psychologist include conducting interviews with patients, or the patient’s loved ones. It could also include staging interventions, assessing and diagnosing patients, counseling, and simply guiding the patient to their goals. I think I would enjoy being a rehabilitation psychologist because of many of the same reasons that I stated above. I enjoy working with people and helping them with their problems. I also find the topic of addiction very interesting. I would want to talk to the patient and figure out what the underlying reason for the addiction is. I think this would be a very rewarding occupation as well, because you are helping someone through what could possibly be the most difficult part of their life. I think my communication and empathy skills would benefit me in that career.

The final career path that I have been researching is a Marriage and Family Therapist. Marriage and family therapists help troubled couples and families identify and understand the psychological issues behind their problems so they can improve their relationships and repair any damage done to the relationship. These therapists use their knowledge of the psychology of relationships and the family dynamic to help families and couples take a step back and recognize why the issues occurred in the first place. They then help the families and couples work through these issues together. I think I would enjoy this job because I have experience in that area and I think that my own experiences would help me relate to people and connect with them.

When you are contemplating career paths it is always a good idea to look at all of your options. The best thing to do is educate yourself on the duties and responsibilities of a particular job and imagine yourself doing those things. Can you see yourself doing something like that for the rest of your life? It is also very helpful to conduct informational interviews and job shadows. Try to explore many different career paths and do not be too narrow minded when you are searching through different jobs, because you never know what you might enjoy!

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Photo source: Unsplash|Dustin Lee