Friday, March 21, 2014

#femacorpsfriday - Where Are They Now?

Every #femacorpsfriday in March, we'll be profiling former FEMA Corps members - asking them why and where they served, and what they've been doing since graduation. If you're interested in learning more about FEMA Corps after reading their stories, visit, or send your questions to

This week we're talking with Jordan, a FEMA Corps alum from the Southern Region, who served last year with FEMA Corps as a Community Relations Specialist, and now works with FEMA in the Disaster Survivor Assistance program.

Where are you from, and what were you doing before serving with FEMA Corps?
I am from Escondido, California, and before FEMA Corps, I was getting my bachelor's degree in Psychology at the University of California-San Diego.
Why did you decide to join FEMA Corps?
At the time I wanted to spend a year helping others before going to graduate school. I applied for AmeriCorps NCCC and was offered a position within the, at the time brand new, FEMA Corps program. It seemed like an interesting concept, so I joined.
What is one of your most memorable FEMA Corps experiences?
My first time to New York City was directly after Hurricane Sandy. I will never forget the incredible mix of awe at the city itself and horror at the damage the storm caused.
                                                                What was your favorite area to serve in?
I had the pleasure of working in amazing places all around the country. Each was unique and amazing for different reasons. I think I enjoyed the great amount of travelling and vast variety of places combined together most of all rather than any one place in particular.
What was the most challenging part of your service experience?
The most challenging part of my service experience was also one of the most rewarding. The long hours with few days off in response to hurricane Sandy was the most physically, mentally and emotionally draining times of my life. However, it was also definitely the most rewarding, and I have never regretted the hardships.

What did you learn while serving with FEMA Corps that helped you to land a full-time job with FEMA?
While in FEMA Corps I had the privilege of working with a wide variety of amazing FEMA employees.  Getting to know them and learning from their experiences was fantastic. The greatest thing I learned was the ability to learn and adapt based off the knowledge and advice of other people with more experience than myself.

What is your current position with FEMA, and what does that job entail?
My current position is within Recovery Operations under Recovery Operations and Readiness Coordination. At the moment, most of our time is spent in the development and improvement of FEMA’s Disaster Survivor Assistance program.

Since working with FEMA, how have you applied the skills and experiences you gained while serving with FEMA Corps?
My work with FEMA Corps has given me invaluable field experience which I am able to use in my current work. I also had the privilege of working within my current work group while I was in FEMA Corps. This created a wonderful work environment with great people that I was able to easily transfer into my current work environment.
Do you have any advice for folks applying to serve with FEMA Corps and/or currently serving FEMA Corps members?

The most important thing to understand is that there will be hard times in this program. Understand this and decide that you will make it through no matter what. Yes, the living conditions may be rough. Yes, you will be making very little money. Yes, you will occasionally get tired and annoyed with constantly being around the same people for ten months. Yes, you will be working long hours with few days off at times. However, for all the bad there is much more good to come from this. You will  have the rewards of helping survivors recover. You will have selflessly given ten months of your life for the greater good of putting others above yourself. You will have made lifelong friends and crazy fun memories. In the end, it will be the fantastic experiences you remember rather than the hardships you faced.

Thanks for sharing your story Jordan! Next week we'll hear from Katy, who served with FEMA Corps, and is now completing a second year of service with the American Red Cross, through the AmeriCorps Public Allies program.
Brought to you by AmeriCorps NCCC, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service.
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