As the summer and my time as an AmeriCorps volunteer draws to a close, I find myself in a similar position to last year. Having recently graduated from a Midwestern college, I’d spent the summer working and hanging out – both with the knowledge of my looming unemployment and the uncertainty about what I would do next. But there is a key difference between fall 2010 and fall 2011, and this makes me much less apprehensive about the future. I was lucky to spend the last year working at the Cascade Bicycle Club, and working at such a fun, diverse and driven organization has taught me a lot.
Ten and a half months isn’t much time. The strength of the AmeriCorps program — that volunteers can do meaningful, exciting work without a long-term commitment — is also a weakness. As I settled into my position my time at the club was almost up. Cascade is constantly looking forward, and something exciting is always around the corner. That positive momentum, combined with great coworkers, makes it difficult to leave.
I was hired into the Commute Department as the Commute Programs Assistant. My job has evolved over the course of the term, changing to fit my strengths (and weaknesses) and the needs of the club. I’ve enjoyed being part of the development of some exciting programs, like the soon-to-be-debuted Bike Friendly Business Certification System and the accompanying Best Practices Guide. I fully experienced the stress and excitement that is Bike Month, along with the months of planning preceding it. I was also given room to pursue my other interests, from graphic design to teaching, and the adaptability of the position greatly contributed to the experience.
Cascade has set the bar high for future work. I’ll be hard pressed to find another job with equally warm and inspired coworkers and a similarly strong sense of purpose. Luckily another AmeriCorps volunteer gets the chance to have the same experience I did.