Take it from a recent college graduate: It's rough out there. With the national economy in a shambles and entry level employment opportunities scarce, AmeriCorps can be a saving grace for recent college grads.
That population is part of the reason that in the past 11 months, AmeriCorps received over 144,000 more applicants than it did this time last year. It's been bolstered by the $200 million in funding it received this past year, when President Obama inked the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The organization partners with local or national nonprofits according to those organizations' area of expertise. For post-grads bogged down with debt, it's a way to pay student loans, offering steady work for the time being and a guaranteed job in an otherwise uncertain future.
I can empathize with the young South Floridians who were recently interviewed for a USA Today feature story about AmeriCorps. People like 23-year-old Chris Kowlish from Boynton Beach who picked a college major similar to mine.
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"I was at a loss," Kowlish told USA Today correspondent, Deb Peterson, of his fruitless search for a job in journalism. "I didn't know what to do."
Same here. Even if you're willing to pour the obligatory blood, sweat, and tears into practicing journalism, it's hard to find somewhere to practice it.
As a recent college grad with a journalism degree, I scoured the Florida peninsula. But most papers are laying off writers and editors -- not hiring them. The only game in town is online, as newspapers phase out their print products to invest in their internet futures. Those of us who've found a place in that new futuristic media universe count ourselves among the fortunate few.
And that feeling only lasts until the next letter from the loan sharks that helped pay the college tuition.