Ashira Mayers (Class of 2021) joined the Breakthrough New York community as a student, and upon graduating from Manhattanville College, transitioned into the role of Recruiting Coordinator as an AmeriCorps Civic Corps member. She shares her perspective on the benefits of having Breakthrough as a support system and as an employer, and how the role prepares her for job future opportunities.

After I graduated college, I had very little idea about what I wanted to do. Finishing my degree and senior thesis online felt like a big enough challenge that did not allow time for self-exploration. Ultimately, I knew with my degree in sociology and women’s gender studies I wanted to give back and not sacrifice my identity (appearance, beliefs, and commitment to social justice). I did not have an idea of what I wanted to do but I did have an idea of how I’d prefer to work. I knew I wanted to work in service or non-profits, maybe with children, as I had experienced. Maybe I would work in an office as I had for the last four years to build on those skills. At this time, my college coach Minji and I were in contact regularly, and I shared job hunting updates while she shared open positions and opportunities. She finally mentioned AmeriCorps and that the 2021-2022 deadline was approaching. This was my first time hearing of AmeriCorps, but I liked the idea of a year of service. It gave me a timeline and would give me a structure to work on projects I am passionate about. When she also mentioned Breakthrough New York was a host site, I quickly reviewed the positions and felt as though a Recruiting Coordinator would be the most fitting, as I spent the majority of college working in Admissions and the Career Services Department.

I knew it might be an easier transition to work with Breakthrough New York, a program I am very familiar with versus starting somewhere completely new. The greatest way Breakthrough New York has prepared me to enter the workforce has to be that I now have an idea of a work environment I’d want to be a part of. Growing up, you learn as an adult you’ll have to often compromise and settle. Throughout my education, I had been preparing to compromise and settle into a position that paid enough and was just bearable enough to commit to each day. At Breakthrough, my identity is respected and my beliefs are shared throughout our community. Not only is the position my first experience working in a traditional full-time role, I feel affirmed in my work each week [in] seeing goals met and receiving constant feedback.

I joined the Breakthrough community over ten years ago, prepared to commit to my education. As a student, Breakthrough was a reminder of my goals. With every obstacle I came across during my education, Breakthrough remained a constant [presence]. In college, when classes became overwhelming, Breakthrough worked with me to create progression plans. Now, when I feel overwhelmed in my new position, I am able to create plans of action with my supervisor in a similar fashion. I learn new applications often in my role and I’m given many opportunities to be creative and take lead on projects. My greatest responsibility as the Recruiting Coordinator has been my direct contact with prospective students and their families. Public speaking has been a crucial skill in my position as I host information sessions, application calls, and partner calls with schools and employers. I found speaking to be one of my greater skills in college and this position has allowed that skill to develop, not only through daily practice but through feedback-driven conversations where I am able to implement comments into my performance. I am really excited to continue my service year with Breakthrough, to continue learning and growing. I love that I never truly say goodbye to Breakthrough New York.

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