A Review: City Year

So, one of the reasons that I started this blog was because I had this great post on manifest destiny and moving west and maybe going to Seattle.  That’s not happening.  Instead of dwelling on another failure and something gone not right again, I would like to talk about the program that I applied to.  City Year.

I found out about City Year through a blog about Teach for America (which I also applied to and was rejected from).  As I was researching the program, I really thought it looked fantastic and I was really excited about researching it more thoroughly, and I obviously decided to apply.  It took me a long time to decide to do this and as I had mentioned in my first post, I really wanted it to work out.  It didn’t.  And boy, do I have some things to say about the program’s customer service – mostly a long, huge rant.

Most of my hesitations with the program had to do with the financial aspect of the situation.  I have no problem with doing volunteer work – especially not in schools.  However, the program did not provide housing and the stipend that they give corps members is barely enough to survive in the cities where the corps members do their service.  Maybe I would have a different opinion of this had a I been accepted and been able to see and go through the process of trying to find housing.  So, in order to give myself some peace of mind, I emailed the contact information for all of City Year to see what the stipend was.  The response I received was that I would have to contact each City Year location individually to find out this information.  I found this slightly inconvenient because a headquarters represent should be able to list off the stipends for certain cities when asked.  So, I contacted all of the locations that I was looking into and most of them gave me a quick response back.  Most did not offer up any other help and most did not give me any other additional information.

I finally decided to apply to City Year Seattle/King County.  I thought it would be fun to see what would happen and to see another part of the country – to fulfill my manifest destiny to travel westward.  I sent in the application and got my references sent as well.  Then, things got a little sticky.  I understand that sometimes it is difficult, with the time difference and busy schedules, to contact people who may live far away.  Here were my problems with the City Year Seattle/King County location.  First, I asked to receive contact information for a current corps member to ask them questions four times.  Each time I was told that my information would be passed on, and I never once received an email from them.  Second, for my first interview I was left a message at 7:30 PM EST on a Friday and was asked to email about confirming a time slot.  I emailed and then didn’t go in for a day of subbing because I was supposed to have an interview at 10 AM EST on a Tuesday, and was never called.  I received an email on Wednesday I believe confirming for a Thursday or something like that.  Not a good start.  My first interview came and went, and I got a call to schedule my second interview.  That interview was scheduled and went off without a problem.  During the interview I was told that I would know by June 15th whether or not I was going to be given a spot, waitlisted, or accepted into the corps.  June 15th was a Tuesday.  I did not receive word until June 19th, a Saturday.  I received a letter saying that I had not been accepted and I could reapply next year – although I am unable to because of age restrictions.  This made it seem like they didn’t actually care – which I’m sure they didn’t.

My overall impression of City Year was not a good one, and I would not recommend the program to anyone after the way I was treated by the Seattle/King County office.  I understand that it can be hard to treat everyone great, but you should always treat prospective members well or they may decide not to join.  I have since applying, heard bad things about the program.  A part of me is relieved that I didn’t have to make the decision not to do it had I been accepted.  But a bigger part of me is upset that I have once again been rejected.

I do need to offer praise to the City Year San Jose location.  When I emailed them, I was given a prompt response and was asked if I wanted to have a current corps member get in touch with me.  I said that would be great, and was contacted by that corps member within a day and we emailed back and forth a few times.  They made me feel welcome and were extremely kind to me.  So thank you, Veronica and Megan, from City Year San Jose – you are the only shred of hope I see in my experience with City Year, and I appreciate your kindness.

Needless to say, I am disappointed about my rejection as I hoped that I would be able to become a part of City Year and possibly stay with the program – as the mission that it states is one that I deeply believe in.  However, I do not plan on looking at City Year ever again because of the way I feel that I was treated.

Have you ever been let down by something that you believed in?  What was it and did you regain your confidence in it?

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