By Katelynn Essig
I’ve been in AmeriCorps for two years now. This October I’ll be starting my second year with Energy Corps and third year of AmeriCorps. As I reflect back on where I was just one year ago, I remember feeling a lot of pressure to find a “real job” and get my life together so to speak. I had completed my Master’s Degree right after undergrad and felt like I knew what I wanted to do but it felt impossible to find a job in my field of Sustainability. In August of 2015 I was frantically scoping out friends’ LinkedIn pages to find a path. That’s when I found Energy Corps. I emailed my friend who had been in the program a year before; she was so excited, she told me to call Kaleena, the program coordinator, right then and there. In one short conversation, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Out of nowhere, I was looking at 10 positions all in my field; a rare opportunity you don’t find when job hunting in the real world. There was one position in Red Lodge whose project list was a mile long but something in my gut told me to go for it. 3 weeks later I was heading to Montana for the first time having never stepped foot in the state – to live, work, and play. Here I am a year later, smiling with gratitude and true happiness. Not only did I have an incredible year making friends and moving into a beautiful historic house with 3 awesome girls but my professional life grew ten-fold
With the undying support of my community, Kaleena, and my Energy Corps crew, I was able to build a network, in my field, around the state. I now feel comfortable where my career is heading. I’ve learned so much about myself but the most important lesson I learned is to let things go with the flow. Wherever you go, go with confidence. Even if you don’t feel confident, fake it. Be kind, take into account everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and be prepared for a huge learning curve. Be OPEN to getting to know people both personally and professionally and don’t get down on yourself when you realize you can’t please everyone. Finally, always remember your Energy Corps cohort is there to HELP you. We may be doing different projects but we will all have the same struggles. My Energy Corps crew was the most supportive group of people for me. We cheered each other on, complained about our lack of progress, and everything in between.
This may be a list to give advice to new Energy Corps folks but it’s really just a list for myself. These are things I learned and need to remember going into this next year. I’m ready to head back to Red Lodge and get back in my groove. I’m excited to keep growing, meeting a new group of Energy Corps folks, and taking a look back at this blog to see how much more can change in another year.