Flexible from the F to the E: Lessons from AmeriCorps

Community, GenDIY, Leadership, Mission-Driven Work

By Angela Martano 

This phrase: “be flexible from the F to the E” was one that I heard in AmeriCorps a lot. Upon first listen, I didn’t exactly know what it meant. Of course I know it didn’t mean be flexible like doing splits, but flexibility in a different way.

It’s talking about being flexible in the workforce, which is something that I never thought about before. Now, wouldn’t you know that I use this phrase in every job interview/training session/AmeriCorps moment I have? It might be the most valuable lesson I learned while serving.

In AmeriCorps, there are many unknowns. Some of us move across the country to cities we’ve never been to and immerse ourselves into a program hoping for the best. Some of us sign up for programs that have very general descriptions and we are forced to “figure it out.” To me, that is the beauty of service. It’s selfless, right? Doing something for someone else without expecting anything in return? That’s the hope. This whole “being flexible” concept is built upon the idea of meeting people where they’re at and stepping outside of your comfort zone, many times stepping into the proverbial unknown.

The lesson of flexibility is an important one while doing service, but even more important as you leave service to enter into the workforce. Many people who serve in AmeriCorps go on to work in non-profits, which oftentimes have limited resources–this is the perfect storm in which you’ll find yourself stretching yourself thin while remaining flexible. This happened countless times while I was in AmeriCorps. We went from Plan A to Plan B to Plan Z and accepted it all as it was coming to us.

AmeriCorps Alums come with a lot of marketable skills that set us apart from other people. I am grateful for my time in AmeriCorps because it has prepared me for the workforce and gave me the confidence I needed to continue on my path, no matter where it takes me–because I’m flexible.

About “GenDIY”

eduInnovation and Getting Smart have partnered with The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation to produce a thought leadership campaign called Generation Do-It-Yourself (GenDIY)–how young people are hacking a pathway to a career they love–on The Huffington Post and GettingSmart.com. This campaign about reimagining secondary and postsecondary education and career skills will explore the new generation building a global economy and experiences that are impact driven and entrepreneurial.

For more on GenDIY:

Angela Martano is a Co-Chair of AmeriCorps Alums Boston. 


Stay in-the-know with all things EdTech and innovations in learning by signing up to receive the weekly Smart Update. This post includes mentions of a Getting Smart partner. For a full list of partners, affiliate organizations and all other disclosures please see our Partner page.