I joined Atlas Corps family in November 2018 with its Class #33 which became very symbolic to me since I turned 33 next year while staying on the fellowship with Voice of America. Before it was a bit stressful since it’s hard to accomplish all things upon your arrival in a new country. In the meantime, Atlas crew and other local friends were very helpful and managed to overcome all these challenges. So it was much easier to get to my duties right after the Orientation week which was also really helpful for understanding all the details on the ground. And here is my first recommendation to be more attentive during the Orientation and don’t hesitate to raise your hands asking specific questions.
In one year after the fellowship, I can tell fo sure that my professional experience and skills have been significantly improved as I observed real changes after the arrival back to Ukraine which has been also noticed by muy colleagues at work. Below I would like to share in my view the most important things which you should know before completing your fellowship with Atlas.
- Even though you want to extend your fellowship for 2,4 or 6 months your host organization along with Atlas team don’t guarantee you such opportunity as these provisions are mentioned in our contract (please read it carefully). Therefore, you need to check-in with your supervisor at least in three months before the end of your program to discuss further opportunities of the extension;
- In case if you agreed on the extension feel free to work on your further accomplishments within your leadership plan. In this case, I would highly recommend you switch your duties by obtaining other professional skills rather than what you did before. I may also discuss it with your supervisor as he/or she could send you to another department for the shaping of your different skills. Remember, being in one position will not let you move further as you have to use your time at its best by gaining more skills, experience, and contacts with your host organization;
- Regardless of which is your host organization and a city where you serve, don’t stick with a usual route “home-work-home”. Firstly, this is a boring routine and secondly, you are missing more opportunities to experience more places, (public events, exhibitions, receptions etc. are free to attend so you don’t need to waste your limited stipend). Secondly, don’t miss possibilities to meet new people as you never know when you will end up in 5,10 and even 50 years from now. So go for it, share your unique experience, culture and professional accomplishments with others. America was built by free people who loves freedom, new ideas, and thoughts. Use it at your best;
- Prior to your arriving back home, you need to find a job as its a long-term process and you want to have your plans ready by finding a place before returning back. Of course, don’t hesitate to add your new experience to your resume so it will definitely be more beneficial to your further employer (-s). In this regards, any recommendations and endorsements from your supervisor (-s) will be also welcome;
- Stay active and don’t lose your contacts back home and vice versa. Many fellows may feel they are too far and too busy to keep in touch with their families and friends. This is a deep misconception since your fellowship will come to the end much faster than you think, so you don’t want to lose your contacts even if you are located on the other continent. Remember, your beloved family and friends are still missing you so spend more time by calling and talking to them;
- Travel more. Although Atlas stipend is limited and provides coverage of only your expenses, you can still find affordable options to travel. Domestic flights in the U.S. are really cheap especially if you book it in advance and not in the holiday seasons. I can also do lots of travels by bus or rent a car with your friends to save more. America is a big and charming country so don’t restrict yourself by staying in just one city;
- Keep in touch with other fellows and staff. As a famous American anchor and journalist Thomas Friedman named his book “The world is flat”, nowadays its really important to understand how connections can make differences. Most of Atlas crew and fellows are true professionals who are dedicated to their work, therefore, they were selected for this program. Don’t lose these people and stay in touch by sharing your experience (such as I’m doing now by writing this blog), ideas and future plans. I’m sure you will be keeping it up far beyond time within your fellowship. Together we can do the world a better place to live. Cheers 🙂