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After college, I really want to join a yearlong volunteer program called Americorps National Civilian Community Corps, or NCCC. It's a full time program, and I won't be able to complete any internships during my year there. I may be able to intern between graduation and the NCCC start date. However, if I was offered a job at the end of the internship, I wouldn't be able to take the job because I'd have to leave.

The million dollar questions: will employers look at my volunteer year as a wasted year? Does it really matter, as long as my demo reel's good? Should I take a year off during college instead of after college so I can avoid this?

Thank you so much for reading!

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Are you in school for sound design? I can speak from the side of being an engineering major in college, which is similar in that current knowledge is valuable to employers.

I graduated and decided to go into audio/visual instead of a field related to my major. After a year and a half, I decided I wanted to go back to engineering for more money and better hours. Even though I had been working, had more leadership and work experience than almost anyone at the job fairs and hiring folks I visited, the question I got every time was "where were you for a year? why weren't you doing engineering?", and there was very little . I stayed with A/V, which was a good decision for me in the end, but it made me realize that current, fresh knowledge is most often valued.

My advice: take a year off in the middle of school to do this internship. There are two reasons I think you should. First, you will be able to come back, finish your degree, and have everything fresh in your mind as you seek employment. I would take off as soon as possible in your studies so that you don't have gaps between high level courses. Second, it will help your employability. If I had to choose, just on paper, between a recent grad and someone who has been out of school for a year and has not used their degree at all, I'll pick the recent grad. The other thing that happens is you will instead of being someone who has been out of the industry for a year, you'll actually come across better with the internship being while in school. You'll have a leg up on claiming leadership and real world experience over people who just went straight through school. By graduating, you show that the year off did not effect your course studies and you're just as sharp as anybody graduating, but with some extra bonuses.

Keep in mind some schools plan major course requirement changes that could effect you if you're absent when the change happens. There are also a lot of courses that require consecutive semesters or quarters to complete.

Again, my advice isn't exactly geared towards employment in sound, but hopefully it helps. I'm sure others who have taken a more direct path to sound can speak to employment after college. Good luck!

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I assume you want to get into sound post production?

The only thing i think the volunteer year would do is delay your entry into the world of post. It seems to me that, in this industry, it's about: whether people like you; your skillset and ability to learn; and being in the right place at the right time.

As an example: after finishing my bachelor in film and TV, i worked at a supermarket for a few years while i worked on as much as i could (mostly unpaid) and built up my contacts and experience.

I think life experience and communication are very important in our job, so this volunteer year could help you in the long run. Try to work on projects for friends and people you find on craigslist (etc) in the meantime, but i can't see anyone looking down on you for it.

Best of luck!

PS: if you are offered a job at the end of an internship, that would be a decision for you to make then and there. I would recommend taking it, as the industry seems a little tricky to get into right now.

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