Preparing for Life After a Year of Service

Every year of national service brings challenges, triumphs and unforgettable experiences. As City Year AmeriCorps members, we serve in some of the highest-need urban schools across the country, forming unforgettable bonds with each other and the students we support. Now, as our service year begins to come to an end, my fellow corps members and I are busy preparing for life after City Year, and taking the skills we've gained to exciting new career and higher-education opportunities.

The graduation rate at the school where I serve hovers around 50 percent. Helping students discover their potential and connection to learning has opened my eyes to my passion for education and education reform. But it's also given me a sense of calm about my future. Now in my second year as a corps member, I feel stronger and better prepared to meet whatever comes my way. I've also learned so some tangible new skills, like how to analyze numbers and data to track my students' academic and behavioral progress. I've learned how to effectively manage my time, build a strong team, and lead creative school-wide initiatives.

But in today's workforce, landing a successful job is especially difficult for my generation. In November, the unemployment rate for people under the age of 25 was 14.8 percent, leaving nearly 10 million people unable to find work.

Fortunately City Year has a network of partners that help corps members begin preparing for the transition from service in schools to a range of different careers. This winter, 1,400 City Year corps members are getting training and advice from more than 100 Comcast and NBCUniversal employees during the annual Comcast and NBCUniversal Career Days. Since these days began in 2005, employees have worked with nearly 7,000 City Year corps members on how best to highlight the skills and experiences we've gained from our year of service during job interviews, on resumes, and at networking events.

Here in Los Angeles, several top entertainment executives offered career advice to nearly 150 City Year corps members. We heard from seniors leaders including Donna Langley, Chairman of Universal Pictures and Jennifer Salke, President of Entertainment at NBC Entertainment. Many of them explained how they started at the bottom of the career ladder, and through hard work and perseverance worked their way up to the positions they hold today.

Members of their talent acquisitions team also gave us some great advice on how to get started with the job search. Here are five top tips:

1. Having a complete and up-to-date LinkedIn profile is critical. Share articles, join groups and engage with other professionals to improve your visibility.

2. Be sure to do your research about the organization before your interview. Knowing company culture is key.

3. Tailor your resume to the job you are applying for. It's important to match the skills you have with the job description.

4. If you're tailoring your resume, know exactly what's on it!

5.Prepare solid follow-up questions to ask during your interview.

Jennifer Salke, President of NBC Entertainment, emphasized the importance of finding opportunities to get your foot in the door, no matter how small the job. If you challenge yourself and find ways to improve the company you're working for, you'll build a reputation that you're someone the company should invest in. Comcast and NBCUniversal invests in City Year corps members' futures during these career days by working one-on-one with us, running motivational workshops and holding mock job interviews.

At the end of Comcast and NBCUniversal Career Day there was a noticeable shift in confidence in my team. We had just heard advice from some of the entertainment industry's most successful leaders about starting our career search. But the number one lesson we took away was that if we're confident in the skills we've developed during our year of service, then our career search and career paths will be successful ones.