This is Kelly Sherman, one of the CVA’s from the lovely Harpers Ferry just sharing a little bit about my life as a CVA. We passed the halfway point in our internships about a month ago, so I’ve thought a lot about what I would have liked to have done differently and what I want to do going forward. This post is all about what I wish I had done differently (Molly and Emily, if you’re reading this I give you permission to show this to incoming CVAs as a lesson of what NOT to do).
Starting this job was rough. Coming into it, I wasn’t super detail oriented and so I missed a lot of emails, which was a really big mistake. If I could give any advice it would be to read ALL of the emails sent out. This sounds super obvious, but it was something I overlooked. I get 100s of emails a week. I kid you not, I currently have 11,273 unread emails in my personal email, 19,954 unread emails in my school email, and even more in my professional email account. So yeah, it’s not surprising I missed a few emails, especially since I don’t actually check my personal and professional emails, like ever. I missed the email saying there were TWO background checks I needed to complete, and that ended up being a nightmare for when I actually had to start the position.
The first background check is for SCA, and it’s pretty straight forward, other than the fact that you need to get your fingerprints taken in the state you work, which can be a pain if you work in a remote location. The second is for the federal government and it’s way more annoying but it’s SUPER important you fill this one out ASAP because otherwise you can’t use a computer, and this background check takes forever to get processed.
I can’t speak for everyone but a lot of my work at Harpers Ferry involves the use of a functioning computer. You can’t get into your work computer without a PIV card which you get after your federal background check has been processed. So I wasn’t able to do a lot for the first three months of my job. Also you can’t access your work email until you get your PIV card, so guess who continued to miss emails? Yeah, fun times…
Once I got the PIV card, which was around August/September, I definitely felt more empowered. I was able to actually start contacting and planning events for volunteers instead of just reading about my park. I also started going to a lot more trainings, which is hands down one of the coolest parts of this internship. I’ve been able to learn so much from formal trainings and from other CVA’s, and I love being part of the NCR region. Even if it was a really painful process, filling out all the background checks (and swearing my head off in the process), was completely worth it. I’ve really loved all the people I’ve worked with and the work I’ve been doing. Hopefully all of you reading this (present, past, and maybe even future CVAs) have/will enjoy your job as much as I enjoy mine!