As with many membership sites, one of the first things to do on the Americorps Alums site once you create an account is to fill out your profile.
There are several sections in your Americorps Alums profile that you can edit and add information to. Aside from the basic username/password stuff and a photo uploader, there are sections for Personal Information (gender, age, marital status, etc., including your Americorps service background), Additional Information (text boxes for “More About Me,” “Educational Experience” and “Social/Volunteer Organizations”), Contact Information (address, email, IM handles and the like), and Professional Information (basically, your current employment status).
You also get a personal blog on your profile that you can use, but I don’t recommend it. It’s clunky and the contents are only available to other site members, will not be indexed by the search engines and there are no RSS feeds. If you’re not the blogging type, it’s just one more thing to do. If you are the blogging type, chances are very good that you’ve already got at least one other, more functional and more visible blog out there, so why bother with another one that only a handful of people, at most, are ever going to know exists? I just put up a post on mine directing people to this blog and called it a day.
Bits and Pieces
There are a few other bits and pieces of potential interest that make up the Americorps Alums member profile, including a photo uploading app, a preferences section where you can tweak notifications and whatnot, a page to access your membership status information (paid, lifetime or free), a message inbox and a page that lists all the groups you can belong to (A.A. has “groups,” which let you connect to other people from, say, past Americorps programs or organizations. These operate more like announcement boards than interactive chat groups or anything. Useful for keeping up with what your old Americorps org is doing (if they update their group announcements) than anything else.
The Americorps Alums site also allows you to connect with other members. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any way to upload your contacts to find members easily, so you have to manually track them down using the Member Search function (or discover connections in your Group memberships) and connect from there. Not sure what the point of connecting is at this point, as there don’t seem to be any additional features you have to be connected to use, but they may add functionality later so it won’t hurt to connect up with your peeps, if they’re on the site. If they’re not, drop them an invitation via the Tell a Friend function at the bottom of the My Profile sidebar.
It’s your all-around standard Profile section – nothing weird, nothing unrecognizable to anyone who’s ever been on any membership/connectivity site. As far as whether or not you should spend the time to really buff it out, I’d say that if you’re going to be using the Alums site to go job hunting through the Career Center or as part of your resume/CV, it’s probably a good idea to create a full profile with all the useful stuff a future employer might be interested in (including who you’re connected to). And if you’re going to be heavily networking among the Alums, a complete profile with interesting tidbits about yourself will probably enhance your connectibility. Otherwise, you can just set up a basic profile and leave it at that.