It is incredible to think that it has already been 9 months since I started my year as the Public Policy GSV in New York City. I have learned a lot this year about myself and the world. When I was asked to do this blog post I had trouble coming up with an idea until I realized that a major part of my year as a GSV was learning and that I should share a little of what I have learned both for future GSV’s and for the community in general.
1) Remember that there will always be more to learn.
I started this year with a pretty extensive background in policy and politics. I have been involved in campaigns since high school and try to stay informed. However after my first day as a Public Policy Fellow I realized how little I knew. I went to meeting after meeting where I could barely follow what was being said and was often forced to write down pages of questions to be answered later. At first I hated it. It made me feel stupid and uninformed but then after a while I realized how valuable the experience was. I had been taken under the wing of one of the best policy minds in the non-profit industry and the whole point of this position was to learn. Since that day I have learned more than I ever thought possible. I can tell you about the budget on both the state and the city level, I can list acronyms with the best of them, and I have a working knowledge of most of Good Shepherd Services’ programs. I told you this long-winded story to illustrate how important both humility and learning is as a GSV and in my position in particular. You may be brilliant but you will be surrounded by brilliant people and the best way to be the best at your job is to try and learn from their brilliance.
2) It’s not always going to be easy.
Being a GSV has been an amazing experience and one of the most important things I have learned is to be honest with myself and others about how hard doing a service year can be. I am not discouraging people from doing it but I think it is important to respect the challenges that come along with being a full time volunteer. Living on a stipend is difficult and you are going to want to do your thing without all the events and extra responsibility that comes with being a GSV. Learning how to accept the challenges and embrace my own shortcomings has been one of the most important gifts this program has given me.
3) Take advantage of all the opportunities offered.
Being a GSV has given me the opportunities to do some amazing things. I was able to go to a party on an Aircraft Carrier, I went to a party at Gracie Mansion (the home of New York City’s mayor), I organized and attended a massive youth advocacy day in Albany, and I was able to go to Washington, D.C. to advocate for anti-human trafficking legislation. The last piece of advice I have is to take advantage of everything offered. It can feel overwhelming and you may feel like it is all just too much but by embracing everything you can you will have a far better year than if you do the bare minimum required of a GSV.
Written by, Spencer Carter Public Policy & Advocacy Good Shepherd Services Washington Heights Community '17-'18