FAQ: “Reader Mail” Edition

As our ol' pal Dave would say, "These are actual letters, from actual viewers..."

Every Monday afternoon, I’ll write a column that provides advice or insight on applying to Public Allies.  The FAQ’s have been our most popular posts.

Hey there — this week, I’m going through my in-box and picking out some individual questions.  These questions below are excerpts from actual e-mails.

Question:  …I am moving to Milwaukee in September, so I am interested in the Milwaukee branch. However, I am a Canadian citizen. Does this bar me from acceptance into the program?

As we are funded through AmeriCorps, we abide by their rules and regulations.  In terms of eligibility, I’ll cite 45 CFR 2522.200 — you must be able to demonstrate documentation of being a US Citizen or National, or a Permanent Resident Alien.  So to answer your question, unless you are a Permanent Resident Alien, then you cannot participate in Public Allies.

Question: … I came across the public allies program while going through the americorps website. I toured the public allies website and may be interested in applying. I just had a few questions. First, how competitive is it to get accepted?

It all depends on how you define “competitive.”  Our national average last year was 5 applications for every opening.  This year, we anticipate to be at least 6 applications for every opening.  We have yet to have the final numbers for the ’10 season, but  Our most “competitive” in terms of numbers in ’09 was the Eagle Rock Teaching Fellowship — they had 141 applications for 12 Fellowship positions, 11.83:1 ratio.  In terms of an Ally Apprenticeship site, New York and Los Angeles were 1 and 2 in ’09 in terms of numbers of Applicants, but part of that is due to the fact that they are based in our two largest metropolitan areas.

Question:  I am in the process of applying for both your Silicon Valley and Los Angeles branches, and was wondering if I need separate applications for both.  Also, could you tell me the start date and end date of both those programs?  Lastly, if chosen, would I have to interview with both programs?

Gotta love the multi-part question.  Now that we have the on-line application, y’all are welcome to check as many boxes as you want.  In terms of the start dates:  Returning sites usually begin during the first week of September, while new sites begin on the first week of October.  In terms of end-date, just add 10 months to that first day.  Yes, if you made it to the interview portion, you would have to interview with both programs.

However, let me add a new bit of complexity that we added for the on-line application — “Primary” and “Alternate” Sites. When you apply, you have the option of selecting a Primary site.  What this means is that this site will get “first dibs” on reviewing your application.  If they choose not to pursue your candidacy, then you will be available for consideration by the sites that you designated as “Alternate” sites.  Let’s say you selected more than one alternate site — In that case, you would be akin to being a “free agent” (to use a sports phrase), in that all of the alternate sites would be “competing” for you.  So in this case, you may get several more invites to interview with different sites, or you might get one more invite to interview, or you may not make it past the interview stage.

Question:  I am currently an undergraduate student in my junior year.  While I have learned from the website that the Public Allies program is a full time commitment, I was wondering if the four days of service were typically Mon-Thurs with the Leadership course on Fridays.  Or does the service component happen on weekends as well? I ask only because I do take classes two days a week but am  available the other three days of the week as well as the weekends.  If the schedule is flexible enough to work with my classes, I am very confident in by ability to commit to the work.  I currently work more than 40 hours a week and have for the past 2 years, while also taking classes full time.

Typically, the Public Allies work week is that you work at your placement full time from Monday-Thursday, and then on Fridays you have a full-day training day with the other Allies.  A few sites have trainings every other week, and even fewer sites choose to have their trainings mid-week as opposed to Fridays.

Also, it’s possible to have some flexibility with your placement, since not all Ally placements are 9 am – 5pm type jobs.  For example, youth work placements sometimes flex because the “primetime” for working with youth tend to be after school (3pm – 6pm) or even on weekends.

That being said, I usually invite applicants to consider Public Allies as a full-time job.  To complete the “bare minimum” of hours to qualify for the Education Award is 1700 hours over a 10-month term.  That means your average at least 42.5 hours a week.  Be mindful that 1,700 is usually on the “low-end,” as I’ve seen Allies usually average 1,800-1,900 during their term — as we tend to hire types who aren’t “clockwatchers” and who are enthusiastic about creating a strong team service project, or doing whatever it takes to do a great job at their placement.

Now, on my planet, I’ve got 24 hours in the day.  However, if you’re a Steven Covey mastermind, and are the ultimate time-management guru, then by all means.  Now, snark aside, I’ve known some Allies who have taken one academic credit course outside of their Apprenticeship, or who’ve even done side jobs on the weekends to make a little extra dough.  At the same time, there is a fine line between doing something a la carte and ordering a whole other entree.  If you do the Apprenticeship, then that should be your first priority.  Not only is your nonprofit placement counting on you, but so are your fellow Allies on your Team Service Project.

That’s all for Reader Mail this week.  Feel free to send me some questions, and I’ll be sure to answer them in another installment shortly.

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One Response to “FAQ: “Reader Mail” Edition”

  1. Eric Says:

    I like seeing the questions coming in. Be interested to hear more as the process goes forward. Thanks Mac!


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