Participating full-time in a term of service allows you to take your commitment to improving your community and the world a step further than volunteering episodically in your community.
As a service corps participant, you work side by side others committed to social or environmental service, people who'll be a core part of your network for the rest of your life. You'll learn about your community, the world, and the way things really work.
Service programs exist that work on every issue that the nonprofit sector works on: from teaching in schools with critical needs, to re-building regions destroyed in natural and man-made disasters. From sustaining agriculture to greening the workforce to bringing people out of poverty and homelessness. Service allows you to roll up your sleeves and muddy your own hands through the effort of changing your world.
Offering yourself up to a commitment of service may bring you closer to fulfilling your mission in life, or at least to figuring out what that mission is. If you are a person of faith, service may be a way you live out your beliefs. In his book Acts of Faith, Eboo Patel recounts his mother's urging that service is a central aspect of Muslim life. The St. Vincent Pallotti Center describes service as a gift, that you make and that you receive. The Jewish tradition teaches about Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world, a deeply-held reason to serve.
Service also gives you an incredible launching-off point for a lifelong social-impact career, and can offer you hands-on experience you need before applying to grad school. This is true for new, mid-career, and retiring professionals.
To support corps career transitions, Idealist offers the book Service Corps to Social Impact Careers, a companion to the Idealist.org Guides to Nonprofit Careers, for both First-time Job Seekers and mid-career Sector Switchers.
Thinking of joining a corps? When you commit to a term of service, a lot of people are counting on your fulfilling your entire term. To ensure you are committing to the best service program to achieve your goals and match your expectations, it's important to ask yourself and program staff some key questions.
Check out our page linking to other resources on Idealist for service corps applicants, members and staff.