Stories of Service: Maria Badillo

Maria Badillo’s AmeriCorp Family Supported Her Throughout Her Job Search

Three months prior to the end of my VISTA year, I began a job search that I hoped would last no more than those ninety days. A millennial with a newly-minted master’s degree should be able to find a solid career job, right?

Nine months later, I was nearing the end of a second AmeriCorps contract, this one a fast-paced six months helping men with barriers to employment become job-ready. Ironically.

I’d been scheduling regular networking appointments and filling out job applications throughout my contract with the blessing of my supervisor. My spiderweb network grew larger as I sought out my ideal professional future, fingers tightly crossed that I wouldn’t regress to retail or food service. I lamented my lack of success, desperate to understand why my strong resume could impress so many and achieve so little.

My coworkers and supervisors at my AmeriCorps location encouraged and supported me. I continued to dig for career jobs that would satisfy my creative hunger. And when I finally secured three job interviews within a two week span, they waited with bated breath. “You’ve grown immensely in the past year-and-a-half,” they’d tell me. “You’ve contributed so much. It’ll be really tough when you’re gone.”

Second interviews came and went. Daily, I was asked if I’d heard anything. “Not yet,” I’d say, both delighted they were so interested, and concerned that I still hadn’t received any answers. I tried not to dwell on it. In my mind, I imagined what it would feel like to say, “Yes, I got my dream job!” instead of “They picked someone else.” I wondered if the latter might kill me.

One job told me they were waiting to hire until they had the budget for it, but that I was their strongest candidate. Another job, a part-time freelance position, hired me! I happily began working that job alongside my AmeriCorps contract, intending to keep it once I found my next full-time role. The third job, though…the third one was The One. It was the perfect combination of my skills. It was the perfect way to launch my professional career. And it was taking way too long for a decision to be made.

So when I finally heard the words, “We are offering you the job,” I nearly collapsed from relief and excitement. My family screamed with joy when I called them. My coworkers hugged me and celebrated. My friends uncorked wine bottles and toasted my efforts.

I went home and slept better than I had in nine months.

And here’s the truth of it: when I completed my postgraduate degree almost two years ago, I wasn’t ready for the role I’m about to undertake. I knew a lot, but I didn’t know how to apply it in the working world. AmeriCorps helped mold me into the employee who can now take what she knows and effectively make things happen with it. I’m a better listener, better thinker, and better human being than I was when I first started. And I can’t wait to take those lessons into the rest of my career.

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