Free at last!

  1. I’m officially on vacation for the next week! Well, technically it’s mostly a staycation for me since I’m only going away for a couple days. I had saved up my personal time to use at the end of my service term for job interviews and whatnot. Once I got my VISTA Leader position, I didn’t need to use that time anymore, so I decided to take this whole week off! I’m going to the Cape with a couple of my good friends from Holy Cross from June 1st to June 3rd. I’ll spend the rest of the week running some errands, renewing my license, and generally decompressing. I haven’t had a whole week off since last August, so this week is totally welcome to me. 
  2. I’m getting a head start on my summer reading list (translation: finally reading all the paperbacks I bought years ago and never got the chance to use). Right now I’m reading Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, and a YA novel about beauty pageant contestants stranded on a desert island a-la Lord of the Flies called Beauty Queens.  Both are pretty good so far! I’m open to any suggestions! (Sidenote: you can add me on Goodreads if you’re into that kind of thing)
  3. Speaking of books, I love reading on my Nook!  I have both the Nook Simple Touch and the Nook Color, but the reading experience on the NST is overwhelmingly better, at least in my opinion. I was an e-reader doubter until I got one myself, and I would totally recommend a Nook to anyone looking for an e-reader.  Plus, I can read in the sun on the Nook. 
  4. I did a 2-hour Zumbathon to benefit my friends’ Relay for Life team on Monday. When I first started doing Zumba, I never thought I would be able to keep it going for this long. I had a lot of fun. I also sweated more than I ever have in my life. And that’s including wearing a marching band uniform in Florida or during the Memorial Day Parade. 
  5. David Wright is still being awesome! D-Wright has always been my favorite player since he came up, so it’s great seeing him play so well. He is currently batting .405 and leading the team in other categories. All with a broken pinkie. Well, maybe the pinkie has healed itself.  And Fred Wilpon said David Wright wasn’t a superstar? 
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Friday Five: TV Time edition

  1. I hate to say this, but am I the only one that was a little underwhelmed by the How I Met Your Mother season finale?  The big reveal of the bride was no surprise. I also felt like a lot of the jokes fell a little flat (i.e. baby Erikson’s middle name, Victoria’s return, etc.). I think the jokes and gags had the potential to be funny, but something just seemed a little off about the episode to me. Yes, Barney and Robin are endgame. That’s great. I just really want to find out who the damn mother is. I don’t wnat to see another dead-end or rehashed Ted relationship. I’ve stuck with this show a long time, and there was a time when I was really obsessed with it (Disclosure: I started watching the episodes on DVD in 2009, so I know I’m not like one of the early adopter fans, but STILL. That’s a lot of TV to watch).  Maybe I was the only one who just wasn’t feelin’ it. 
  2. And speaking of disappointing TV…I think I’m over the Real Housewives of New Jersey.  The first few seasons were a lot of fun, but season 4 so far has been full of hate. I mean, the first couple episodes were driven by Teresa’s cookbook and a comment Teresa made to her brother OFFSCREEN. Teresa is no angel (see how she treated Danielle in S1-S2), but I just can’t stand all these grown women gang up on someone.  Caroline is a know-it-all, Melissa is fake, Teresa is a fool, Kathy is a pot stirrer, and Jacqueline is wishy washy. The episodes I’ve watched this season are more painful than fun, so I think it’s time to give up on RHONJ. 
  3. On another note,  the agency where I work is having the annual all-staff meeting at 6 Flags New England. While I’m not super excited about driving all the way up there, I am excited to ride some roller coasters. I haven’t been to a theme park in so long. I think the last time I went was when I went to Fright Fest with my friends Lindsey and Michelle freshman year of college.  I’ll only have a few weeks left here before I start my next service year, so this should be a fun way to wrap things up for me. 
  4. David Wright’s flip-out at Terry Collins for pinch-hitting for him. It’s so refreshing to have the Mets actually actively entertaining me rather than depressing me this year. That’s all I have to say about that. 
  5. I broke one of my biggest life rules this week and bought a pink Mets hat. I vowed to myself long ago that I’d never buy girly/pink team accessories.  I was looking through the MLB.com Shop clearance section and saw this little beauty.  If you know me personally, you know that I cannot resist hot pink. It was on clearance, it was cute, and I can totally wear it to the beach! 

Cult Nails giveaway!

As you guys all know, I’m obsessed with nail polish.  One of my favorite brands is Cult Nails, an indie brand run by the fabulous Maria Morrison.  The colors are really unique, the prices are good (especially during the last two $5 sales), and you get the satisfaction of knowing you’re supporting a small business owner.

The Collegiate Nail is doing a giveaway of the Cult Nails Divas and Drama Collection (pictured above), and you should totally check it out! The Collegiate Nail is a great blog to check out for swatches!

So you want to do a year of National Service?

I realize that I really haven’t written too much about what it’s like to be an AmeriCorps VISTA even though this blog is supposed to be focused on my year of service. I really didn’t have too much to say about VISTA and my service year until now.  It still feels like I just started the service term and have plenty of time to write about it. That’s not true–I only have about two more months left at my current site.

I chose to do VISTA for a few different reasons. First of all, I wanted to do some sort of service program after graduation. Second all, I wasn’t sure at all of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and thought that serving would be a good way to explore a different career path from the ones I’d previously worked in (insurance, food service, retail, customer service) without making too much of a commitment. I also knew that I needed more professional experience if I wanted to land a job.

Here are a couple things I wish I’d known before starting my service term.

Do your research when applying to positions. Make sure you understand what the main tasks and skills required of the position are. Some listings on the AmeriCorps website are really vague and don’t give you a clear picture of what you’ll be doing.  If the listing isn’t clear, and you’re still interested, try reaching out to the current VISTA. He or she might be able to give you valuable insight on the day-to-day responsibilities of the position. Also,  Google the hell out of the organization, and make sure it’s the place you want to be before committing.

Understand what VISTA is. VISTA is indirect service aimed at capacity building, or helping organizations grow in order to serve the goal of ending poverty. That means one thing: you won’t be working hands-on with the community. You’ll be fundraising,  coordinating volunteers, community organizing, and more, but you won’t be tutoring, constructing houses, or handing out food at food shelters.  If you’re more interested in direct service, try AmeriCorps State & National programs or NCCC.

Treat the application process like that of a real job. VISTAs don’t get paid much. That’s a fact. However, lots of VISTA positions receive multiple applicants. Not all of these applicants are straight out of college. Some are retired, some are changing their careers. Take the process seriously. It’s a lot more competitive than you think.

Advocate for yourself. There were a lot of times this year when I wasn’t especially busy because I had already completed projects on my Volunteer Assignment Description (or VAD, basically a job description). My VAD was pretty vague in comparison to other VISTAs, so I had to create work for myself. Try talking to your supervisor, and keep communication clear.

Ask to see a copy of the VAD during the interview process. That way, you’ll get a better idea if the job is a good fit for you.  If the VAD isn’t available, ask more specific questions about the day-to-day tasks of the job. If you get a vague answer, run! The supervisors need to have a clear vision of where the project should go and why the project is important to the agency.  You want to make sure that the project will be worth your time (and the agency’s time).

Understand the stresses.  Being a VISTA is not easy.  You make basically no money for working 40 (or in some cases 40+ hours a week): r. I was lucky that I was able to live with my parents during my service term. Some VISTAs aren’t so lucky–they actually relocate and live on the stipend.  All these external stresses can really effect your work.  Learn how to budget your money and make sure you have a safe place to live.

Make sure you’re committed. VISTA is not like any normal job.  You make a one year commitment to serve, and you shouldn’t view this as a stop gap between college and another “real” job. First of all, you won’t get your education award if you leave early.  Leaving early also leaves your project/organization in the lurch: the agency can’t replace you until the end of your term is up).  Basically, make sure you WANT to make the commitment to serve for a year.

All in all, VISTA can be a good experience.  You can make valuable networking connections, gain references, and gain professional experience.  If you get only one takeaway from this, just make sure you understand what you’re committing to before you commit.

 

Friday Five: How Sweep it is edition

  1. A couple of my friends and I went out to Los Mariachis, a Mexican restaurant in Wallingford, for Cinco de Mayo. Unfortunately, Los Mariachis is also the ONLY Mexican restaurant in Wallingford. Usually the food and service are great, but because everyone else in town had the same idea as us, the place was packed. We waited 2 hours for a table (I’m pretty sure the host forgot about us). The margarita I had was excellent though. Afterwards a few of us went over my friend Amy’s for more drinks.  We watched the Muppet Movie: I saw it for the first time, and I loved it. 
  2. The Mets swept the Phillies in Philadelphia for the first time since 2006! I love when the Mets actually pull off a sweep, and I love it even more when they pull it off against the Phillies! Yes, I know the Phils are without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley right now, but the beating them just feels so good.  Plus, the Mets finally broke out of that rut they were in against the Rockies and the Dbacks.  I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about the rest of this season. Yes, it’s only May. Honestly, I’ll be happy if the Mets play .500 baseball for the rest of the season.
  3. On another note, one of the game highlights on my MLB At Bat app was the Philly Phanatic holding a baby.  First of all, the Philly Phanatic is not deserving of having one of the game highlights. If I was that baby I’d be screaming my ass off. The Philly Phanatic is creepy and is also my least favorite mascot in sports.  He looks like a chicken mated with a creepy green alien.  Mr. Met is a family man. I’d trust him with my kid.  The Philly Phanatic…not so much. Besides being scary, he’s always causing trouble.
  4. I am officially obsessed with Smart Art! I’m writing a couple manuals for work right now, and I’ve been shamelessly using Smart Art as much as I can.  The shapes make everything look way more professional and classy, and they’re just fun. 
  5. So I’m finally in the market for a new computer (well, once I get reimbursed my deposit for my wisdom teeth and start my VISTA Leader position). I’m thinking of getting a refurbished MacBook Air or MacBook Pro (depending on what’s available/cheapest at the time). I really don’t need a laptop for much beyond word processing and surfing the web. I also love the Mac OS and the aesthetics of both the Air and the Pro.  And any computer, even refurbished, is better than the one I have now. I’m waiting until July, when my next service term starts, to buy anything anyway (my stipend will be bigger than the one I have now).