Consider a year of service as your first job out of college!

I recently went on a school tour in my community with City Year and had to share it with you as it’s something I wish I would have known about before I graduated college. 

City Year is a national service program for students ages 17-24 where students dedicate a year to helping students in public schools; benefits include a living stipend for your year of service as well as a $5,500 education award upon completion.

On my tour, I was struck by the innocent faces of the children (I toured a Title I elementary school), the dedication of the principal, and the joy of the City Year corps members
Our tour guide, a corps member, had a particular spark that radiated both from her smile and her glittery glasses. 

As we continued the tour I found out our tour guide’s name was Khady and that she too was a community college graduate. While finishing her Bachelor’s degree at UCF she is also working full time as a City Year corps member. 

I knew when I witnessed this program that I wanted to share it with you as a potential opportunity for your future, and I thought the best person to share more would be Khady.

Khady in her City Year uniform.

Below is an interview with her so you can learn more about her journey and why City Year has been such a great experience for her so far. 

You can also jump here to learn how to apply to City Year! 

Some fast facts about Khady: 

She started community college in 2009 after graduating high school and got her A.A. in Spring 2013 from Valencia College. She is majoring in psychology and is expected to graduate from UCF in 2015. She enjoys watching Netflix and Hulu and her favorite foods are salads and smoothies. 

1. Why did you choose community college?

I couldn’t afford university and didn’t know what I wanted to do. Valencia was near by and I knew some administration. I thought it would be good fit for me to grow.

2. Were there any obstacles you had to overcome in your life that helped you become who you are today?

Not knowing what I wanted to do and not having a solid foundation of college educated people; I wasn’t driven. Not having a drive to do school or to be educated I didn’t do well at first. After working in the “real world” and seeing a cap on my potential I knew I needed to get back in school and Valencia was the place for me.

3. What was one thing you did in community college that helped you be successful?

Taking time to study and read was beneficial. Valencia is a group based school and working in groups was so helpful that I brought that technique into my studies at UCF.

4. What drew you to City Year?

City Year found me. I was at school and saw the City Year booth. I read up on some things and saw that it was service based organization. My background is in service so I was interested. Seeing the benefits and also what I could do for our country, I knew it was a fit for me. I even met the recruiter through a friend and he was such a great help in the application process.

5. What have you loved about being involved about City Year so far?

I love being able to work with the scholars. Teaching them is different then what I have done with children before but it’s a learning process. 

I also am the outreach coordinator at Catalina Elementary School through City Year. This is a fun part of my responsibilities because I get to write a monthly service briefing on what’s going in our school. I also enjoy being the one to take all our guest around and show them the impact that City Year is doing.

6. How do you feel City Year is helping you grow towards your goals?

The work load is rigorous and time consuming. I feel as though once I graduate from my service at City Year I can do anything.

7. Doing City Year and going to college full time is a lot of work! Would you recommend this or recommend doing it after college?

I would recommend City Year for after college or right after high school. The work load is a lot. You are required to work a certain amount of hours for AmeriCorps certification. With the required hours for City Year and the required hours to be a dedicated college student its too much for a normal person. But it is doable.

8. What is one thing that has helped you manage your time the most and not let your grades slip while working full time?

Time management is an important part of my life. I have been working with my impact manager on how I am using my time and also what I can do to benefit my life and school. 

It’s been a balancing act because I also have to go to the chiropractor from a serious car accident that I was in the day before City Year started. I have my iPhone that has a calendar filled with my responsibilities and I make sure that I check it daily/weekly to make sure I don’t miss any due dates for school or City Year.

9. What advice do you have to a reader who would like to apply for City Year?

Read into the organization. Stay on top of deadlines if you are serious about applying. Look into other cites in America if you are looking for different scenery as well. 

Something I wish I did was travel to a different state like some of my team mates but I’m happy to be helping my home state. If you have questions I’m willing to answer via email: [email protected]

10. What do you hope to do after you graduate as a career?

I want to be a psychologist and have my own private family practice. I want to work with children and married couples incorporating art and music for therapeutical treatment.

Learn more about City Year at or jump right here to apply!

101 Secrets for Your Twenties

Disclosure: The author of the book I’m referencing in this post mailed me a free copy of his book and asked that I write about it if I liked it, with the full understanding that I was under no obligation to write about it, especially if I didn’t like it. Turns out, I loved it and wanted to share it with you. I was in no way paid to do this and all opinions are my own. I only share resources on this blog that I personally think will be helpful to my readers. 
I got Paul Angone’s new book 101 Secrets For Your Twenties in the mail yesterday. I opened it up and read it completely in one sitting, with laughter punctuating every few minutes. 
I’m currently twenty-six, so I loved the way this book outlines the twenty-something crisis with humor and a healthy dose of reality, plus heaping helpings of hope.  
My first few years out of college left me feeling frustrated and depressed; you could often find me gorging on Oreos and Full House re-runs, wondering if I’d ever feel like myself again. 
I read a lot of books about the twenty-something crisis during that time, but none made me feel like what I was going through was part of the process of getting to where I eventually wanted to go
A lot of them felt like they were saying “yes, there is a 20-something crisis, aren’t you glad everyone is miserable and it’s not just you?” I wanted more. I wanted hope. I wanted something to do. I also needed to laugh. 
Paul’s book will definitely make you laugh, make you feel less alone, appreciate this time of live, and give you courage to take the risks necessary to take your life where you want it to go. 
Below are some of my favorite secrets and tips in the book:
#2 The possibility for greatness and embarrassment both exist in the same space. If you are not willing to be embarrassed, you’re probably not willing to be great.”
#3 Making and keeping friendships in your 20s is harder than G.I. Joe’s abs.
Giving everything you have to find the right job is the most important job you’ll ever have.
#22 The grass is always greener on the other side, until you get there and realize it’s because of all the manure.”
From the “22 Signs You’re Having a Quarter-Life Crisis” list: “You glare at your cat as you get ready for work and say “Gosh I wish I had your life.”
#43 The most dangerous job you can have in your 20s is a comfortable one. 
#99 Success in your 20s is more about setting the table than enjoying the feast.
I watched a special on TV billionaire Simon Cowell once where he was being interviewed about the unprecedented success of American Idol. He sat back in his interview chair and, looking sincere and thoughtful, told the interviewer that the best part of the experience was really the beginning, when they were working long hours, taking risks, and had no idea if what they were doing would be successful. That part, he said, was the most fun. 
Growth is painful, but looking back, even billionaires find working to make the money was way more exciting than having it.

How to make it in LA: First Job Profile of Pivot Producer

This summer I connected with some amazing professionals who were willing to share their wisdom. Each profile features how their first job out of college led to their amazing careers today, as well as their advice to help you do the same. 

From my favorite movie, The Help, to my favorite documentary, Waiting for Superman, I’m a huge fan of the work of Participant Media. They use media to tell a story and create awareness that can change the world. And since they’re launching a new network just for millennials called Pivot, I thought it’d be great to learn some career tips from the new network’s senior producer, Adam:

First Job Profile: Adam Sumner, Senior Producer of Pivot at Participant Media 

1) What was your first job out of college and how did you get it? 

My first job out of college was working for a commercial producer in Charleston, SC. I got the job through my video production teacher. 

I was eager to get into the business and sought the first place that might help me, and I guess I got lucky in that my first avenue opened for me. We produced and edited mainly regional commercials, but it was a great first step in the right direction.  

2) What was the most important thing you learned from your first job? 

I think you have to be eager to learn. You need to bring some practical knowledge with you, but don’t act like you know everything, especially in this business. 

There are ways to say things and set etiquette that can only be taught by watching seasoned veterans. The most important thing I learned was listening and watching, but also being eager to act and help. 

3) What did you to leverage your first job to help you get where you are today? 

I managed to use my previous experience as an assistant producer to get on the documentary crew for the Bonnaroo music festival. I was very persistent to get that job and I think having that little bit of experience helped me land the gig. 

This job would change my life forever and still stands as one of the most incredible events in my life. Everyone on the crew was from New York or LA, and they’d say “where do you live in LA?” … and I’d respond, “I’m from South Carolina.”

I was a little bit out of place you might say, but again I was ready to listen and learn. I made some incredible friends and lasting relationships and from there I got the courage to make the move to LA and give this a real shot. I had nothing to lose. 

4) What advice do you have for a recent graduate who is struggling to find their first job after college? 

As I said above, you have nothing to lose. If you are young and free from serious attachments, shoot for the moon. Go for it. You can always move back in your parents basement. 

You also need to build on personal relationships. Searching the internet for job postings is like a shot in the dark. It really is about who you know – hit the streets, really get eager and annoying for what you really want.


I second all of that!  Great advice – thank you Adam!