5 Lessons I’ve Learned as an AmeriCorps Fellow

By Kiara A. Collins on March 6, 2017

Categories: First Person Perspective, Our Work, Real Stories


When I accepted the opportunity to commit a year of service with AmeriCorps on LIFT’s communications team, I knew it would be a whirlwind of an experience. Over the last six months, I’ve learned a lot, made mistakes and gained some insightful perspective for navigating any fellowship experience. Here are five of my most important lessons learned thus far.

Ask for what you need.
Working as an AmeriCorps VISTA Fellow with LIFT has taught me that the relationship between VISTAs and our service sites is mutually beneficial. By keeping in mind that serving our members is the most important, I’ve learned I must ask for what I need in order to achieve my goals. Whether it be assistance from another colleague, learning to master a new skill for a project or obtaining necessary tools to see a project to its end, asking for what I need is imperative to doing what is required as a VISTA.

Lead with intention.
Every opportunity or project I’ve tackled has had an intention. Understanding the meaning of why and how an event or project is valuable can help make tackling that task much easier. By letting intention lead the way, I’ve learned to create a plan of action that helps me execute projects much more efficiently.

Never stop learning.
Serving at a nonprofit has taught me there’s always a new report, figure or graphic that outlines changes within the field of anti-poverty. Staying ahead of the game, devoting time to reading, engaging in webinars and being informed by the news has helped transform my skills to better help my team succeed. 

Take chances.
With support from the communications team and LIFT’s staff, I’ve been encouraged to think outside of the box and come up with really cool ideas to help elevate the work that happens at LIFT. Being fearless in my approach to asking new questions, examining issues from a different perspective or completing projects in innovative ways is a lesson in taking chances that has paid off both in and out of my professional life.

Adapt. Adapt.
Day-to-day work at LIFT varies and it’s important to be able to adjust and roll with whatever comes across our desks. Staying flexible and willing to adapt to new challenges has not only been helpful for moving forward on projects with my colleagues; but, also given me skills to navigate tough times in the real world.

Together, these lessons have shaped my fellowship and allowed me to fully take advantage of this experience. As I continue on through the rest of my year of service, I’m sure these lessons and the other lessons I’m sure to learn along the way will prove valuable for any opportunity that follows.

About the Author

Kiara A. Collins

Kiara supports the communications team by spearheading its internal communication efforts and by producing engaging content across LIFT’s digital channels. She LIFTs to empower and encourage everyone to pursue the goals that will enrich their lives and the lives of all they touch. Before coming to LIFT, Kiara obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas Read More