peace corps application

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How competitive is the Peace Corps?
“Don’t you just sign up for Peace Corps and go?” is a common question asked by people unfamiliar with the Peace Corps application process. After finding out that there are specific education and sk...

“Peace Corps is actively working to recruit a stronger, more highly skilled applicant pool to meet the diverse needs of the countries we serve.”

Attempting To Recreate my Peace Corps Application/Acceptance Process

Received email confirmation that my application had been received. In that email, I also got my “Candidate Reference Number’ which came in handy throughout the process.

  • December 2nd 2013: Interview

I wont lie and say this was nerve wracking for me because it wasn’t. As a supervisor at Phonathon I interviewed a lot of people and the best ones were always the ones where I felt like the interviewee showed us the best part of their personality and asked us as many questions as we asked them so thats exactly what I did. I was lucky in that my interviewer was warm and we connected on everything. If, like one of my friends, you get an interviewer who doesn’t smile back at you or, generally, isn’t giving you any positive feed back just do your best not to get nervous and take time to think out your answers instead of saying the first thing that comes to mind.

http://www.peacecorpswiki.org/Interview_Questions . I used that Wiki page to prepare and most of the questions were listed on that page. 

  • December 17th: Interviewer called and asked how i felt about Cambodia. Said I was down for anything and was told i’d be getting an official nomination soon
  • January 28th: Nominated for Cambodia. 

During my interview my interviwer had asked that I take a look at their interactive map tool (http://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/learn/openings/) to see what was open in my area of ‘expertise’ and make a top 5-10 list of countries I was interested in. This was my list (I should have known then that I would get Cambodia because 6 is my life path number, its my lucky number, and I literally see sixes everywhere)  

1) Belize 2) Swaziland  3) Botswana  4) Fiji 5) Kenya 6) Cambodia
  • March 5th 2014: Got my Invitation for Cambodia.

(This step involves getting a million emails and documents all at one time. Don’t get overwhelmed, you’ve got months to figure everything out.) In your invitation email you get a 'Invitation Decision Form’ (to indicate whether you officially accept or not), a welcome book (country specific), core expectations, volunteer handbook, 'On the Home Front’ (for families to read more about your service). — This email ended up being the most important for me. I referred back to my welcome book almost religiously and it was the 'On the Home Front’ booklet (31 pages of info for families) that made my mother impressed with Peace Corps as an organization and finally comfortable with the idea of me going.

During this time until final medical clearance you’re basically going to doctors appointments, doing training tasks in your 'New Volunteer Portal’ , emailing back and forth etc.

  • May 16th 2014: Received Final Medical Clearance.

For me the medical clearance process was the longest and most overwhelming part of the journey. I had to get a barrage of tests, shots, and paperwork then run back and forth to Staples to scan everything and input it into my Medical Access Portal. The only advice I have is- deep breaths and don’t get ahead of yourself and think you’re done with this portion until you receive that clearance email. Several times I thought I was finally finished only to be asked for one more thing and have my due date extended by one more week. Another thing about medical clearance is that depending on how much you have to get done at the dentist/doctors office it can get very expensive. However, Peace Corps does offer reimbursement up to a certain dollar amount for each medical task. 

  • May 29th: Phone call with In Country Director

Before this you receive an email asking for your availability and which 3 dates and times would work best. Then they send you an email to confirm once you’ve chosen, This would have been the day that I spoke to my in-country director but, like a dingus, I mixed up the dates and totally missed the phone call. Whoops. 

  • June 10th 2014: Received information for staging.

Mine is in LA (woop!). This email includes instructions on contacting CWTSATO Travel Agency and booking your flight. That process took me exactly 2minutes&31seconds. 

  • July 1st (ish): Finally found the Peace Corps Cambodia K8 group on facebook and began connecting with some of my soon to be BFFs (right? right? lets be friends )

Thats pretty much it. I recreated this timeline through emails so hopefully I haven’t missed anything! Hope this helps a future volunteer. Its a long process but it really gives you time and space to do research and consider if the organization/country/time period is right for you.

Peace  

rubyclocks-deactivated20150811 asked:

Hi! I just came across your amazing blog, thank you so much for sharing your experiences! I am also interested in joining the Peace Corps, so I was wondering, could you please share some tips about the application and screening process? Did you have any advice that would give me greater chances of being invited to serve? I'm interested in Education and would be willing to go anywhere at any departure date. Could you please message me with details? Thank you!!

I’ve moved! Find the answer to this question by clicking here.

Luther

9 Myths and Misconceptions about the Peace Corps

9 Myths and Misconceptions about the Peace Corps

The newsfeeds of today are proof enough that anyone with a MacBook, a latte and a half-baked opinion can be an expert on pretty much anything. Including, apparently, a government agency program which they have never researched, never applied for, nor ever served with.

Comments under online articles relating to the Peace Corps are awash with misinformed statements and stereotyped assertions that…

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dancing-thru-clouds asked:

So, I'm a sophomore in college and when I graduate I'm seriously thinking about joining the Peace Corps, most likely Eastern Europe, and I was wondering if you had any advice for an aspiring volunteer?

I do, actually! First of all, Peace Corps is pretty great, so I wish you all the best in getting involved - if you want to come to Eastern Europe, you will most likely end up in a TEFL/CD/YD post, so I hope that you enjoy teaching and working with kids!

I get this question a lot so I went and contacted my original Peace Corps recruiter, asking her what advice I should give prospective volunteers. This is what I got back:

As for what makes applications stand out, previous leadership and service experience are great, as are solid references.  Another recruiter favorite is a flexible candidate.  Also, in general, a candidate who has done their research on program qualifications and is in the process of bolstering that experience, or gaining it when they apply, looks great.

Those are small things, but hope they help!  It’s always beneficial to have a couple of semesters of a romance language, but if there is not time in someone’s schedule, it’s certainly not essential.

So there you go! My additional recommendation would be: get SOME experience living abroad (because otherwise you’re going 0 to 60 in terms of culture shock, and the only way to know if you can handle that is to give it a try somewhere else beforehand). All the volunteers I’ve talked to have lived outside the states before coming to the Peace Corps, so I think it’s a factor they consider when applying.

Best of luck, let me know if you have other questions!

My Peace Corps Timeline [Version 1.0]

Recording my Peace Corps timeline (so far) so that I don’t forget when everything happened now that I’m throwing out my 2012 wall calendar. 

August 15 - New Peace Corps website goes live. I was nearly done with my application on the old site (literally one essay left) when I had to go home unexpectedly for a family situation and didn’t get time to finish it before the site changed. 

August 28 - The essays haven’t changed, so it doesn’t take me that long to finish up. I press submit after checking over everything seven thousand times. Immediately complete the pre-health survey which is really quick until I hit the allergies section. 

September 11 - I’m told they’re waiting on one last recommendation (no surprises there, I knew who’d be the last one in) and I receive the financial obligations form to fill out. 

September 17 - I complete the financial obligations forms and send them in, and make a desperate call to get my last recommendation in as there is a window of time before they’ll consider it an inactive file.

September 20 - My last reference is in! Yay! Now the waiting and hoping that I make the first cut starts.

September 25 - Just less than a month after I applied, I get contacted by my (amazing!) recruiter (who also happens to be an Ohioan now in California!) to set up an interview! Cue almost tears, insane joy and immediate trepidation. I am super nervous about the whole process, since it means so much to me and I only get one shot. The recruiter is out of town for a while (going to learn about the new application system) so we set an interview for October 10 in Oakland. My first trip to the East Bay!

October 8 - My amazing, seriously so amazing, co-workers set up a mock interview panel for me using random questions they found online. They even printed out a Peace Corps logo, colored it, and stuck it on the door. I’m interviewed by my boss, the receptionist of our office, my co-AmeriCorps, the mental health specialist at our school and her two children (second and fifth grade - it was Columbus Day and they had no school but we did). It totally helps, as I get a chance to really think about what’s important to say and hear feedback. The little ones even rated all of my answers for me. 

October 10 - I do a nearly two hour public transit commute to the Peace Corps offices in Oakland. I’m so nervous, but I drink some tea on the train to relax and listen to some Ohio State music to keep me pumped. The security officers at the door wish me good luck, and the receptionist is super nice. The interview goes super well. I’m prepared because of my mock interview and never feel the striking fear of having no idea what to say. I have really good questions that show that I’m invested (I had read two books and a series of articles, and cited them) and know what I’m doing. It seems to go well on both ends. I’m out the door in a little less than two hours after my recruiter says she wants to move on with the nomination process! Whoo!

October 18 - I email my recruiter to thank her for the interview and to make sure that (as she had said in the interview) she knew she had a thumbs up from me, and that I hoped the same was true on her end. 

October 19 - In the middle of school I get a call. I don’t answer because I’m busy, but I check the voicemail as soon as possible. It’s my recruiter, and she wants to talk to me about a potential position. It’s a secondary English teaching position leaving in mid to late September 2013 (right after the beginning of my availability). I’d have to be comfortable with the possibility of living with a host family for most or all of my placement, and it’d be cold in the winter. That’s all I’m given, but I email her back and say I’m interested. Within ten minutes I get my official nomination email. Cue more almost tears. 

October 20 - While enjoying an Ohio State football game I notice that I have my first medical task! Huzzah! I’m excited to have something to do until I realize that it’s a mental health form and that they want me to get it filled out by my psychologist. Earlier, on the pre-health form, I was honest when I said that I do have a phobia of thunderstorms and that I had seen a psychologist when I was younger. And while I still suffer from the phobia, I haven’t seen anyone over it in over 15 years (living in the midwest, it’s just something I learned to deal with). My excitement over the task turns to dread, as I have no idea how I will get it accomplished since no one knows anything about the previous psychologist and I really don’t want to pay to have someone evaluate me now. I email the medical staff to see what I should do.

October 23 - The medical staff informs me I can write a personal statement on my phobia, addressing certain concerns they had, an they will decide if I need to see someone further. I’m nervous - it’s hard to convey that while I do have a legitimate fear, and I really, really hate storms I’m not going to let it hold me back. Some fears you can avoid. This one you can’t, so I can’t let it get to me too much. I start the essay… but I have a hard time choosing the words. I work on it here and there with little interest.

November 11 - With the deadline for the personal statement fast approaching, I decide to stop putting it off and I realize that it doesn’t need to be an award winning essay. I write it from the heart, and decide there isn’t much better I can do.

November 16 - I get my fingerprint forms in the mail! Naturally I get it on a Friday, so I can’t set an appointment up until after the weekend. When I try to set an appointment up, they’re all closed for Thanksgiving. When I try again, they want to charge me two separate fees since I have two cards. This seems like a rip-off to me, since I’m not taking up two appointment windows. Seriously… 68 dollars for something I could do with a two dollar ink pad from JoAnn’s? Luckily, as I’m sitting dejected over the huge fee I’ll have to pay I re-read the letter from the Peace Corps and notice that they’ll do it for free at your recruiting office. Sure, it’ll take a few hours of public transport… but I call and book an appointment with the Peace Corps and make my co-AmeriCorps call and cancel my other appointment.

November 29 - I enroll in an online TEFL certification course (120 hours). I want to make sure I have the best qualifications going into placement, and I know this will help. Plus, I really do want to learn the best way to teach grammar and all the uniqueness inherent in English.

November 30 - I spend a few soaking hours getting myself to and from Oakland. I get my fingerprints done with the fancy red ink, and ask if they happen to know any more information about my program. They don’t. No surprises, and since they change so quick they don’t want to say anything that might not be true. The receptionist tells me that I can check my status probably once a month since my departure date is so far off. I laugh. Sure.

Now - I’m waiting. And hoping that things are going well. Working on my TEFL (1/5 modules done! Working on my second!) I’m checking peacecorpswiki frequently for staging dates. It gives me a reference of where they are in placements (looks like they’re just starting June… so maybe soon…) and mentally crossing off countries that don’t seem to fit what I’ve been told I’ve been nominated for (knowing, of course, that everything is probably going to change a few times). I’ve got it narrowed down to one… we’ll see if I’m right. I’m following the Peace Corps tag, Twitter, and Facebook. And I’m adding tumblrs of people who are at a similar step or already there (hi guys! thanks for reminding me that there are others in this crazy process!) 

Please think good thoughts for me!
 

dented-oranges asked:

Hello, my name is Dustine (Dusteeen) and I'm currently a senior in high school, and after college I am planning on joining the Peace Corps. The school that I'm going to (LIU Global) takes me all around the world for all four years, and really exposes its students to a global perspective. Ideally, I would like to volunteer in Colombia (or another Spanish-speaking country). I would really appreciate if you could tell me a little bit about your experience and maybe give me some advice? Thank you!

Holy crap, Dustine! That sounds like an amazing program - definitely perfect Peace Corps prep - and I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before! Congratulations! :D

I’m guessing you’ll have some pretty intense language instruction, and experience with travel won’t be a concern, so I guess my recommendation would be to figure out what you want to do with the Peace Corps - be it TEFL, HIV, agriculture, community development, whatever - and then figure out what the Peace Corps wants from you based on that. Some stuff requires years of experience or certain types of degrees, so you can start building that resume now as part of your time with LIU.

Keep reading

Peace Corps application!!!

I just sent in my Peace Corps application on July 31st. It was a long process and took about a month to fill. I had to look up a lot of information and find people to write letters of recommendations for me. I had a problem finding a volunteer supervisor to write a letter of recommendation for me because I volunteered four years ago, so when I looked up the person I volunteered for and emailed her she never emailed me back. I am assuming she didn’t remember me, which is totally understandable, so instead I emailed a professor. Thankfully my professor emailed back and said she would love to write a letter for me! I am hoping to hear from someone soon. I think the next step is an interview, but I don’t know how long it’ll take before that happens. Interviews aren’t my favorite :/ 

Peace Corps Timeline Update!

August 15 - New Peace Corps website goes live. I was nearly done with my application on the old site (literally one essay left) when I had to go home unexpectedly for a family situation and didn’t get time to finish it before the site changed. 

August 28 - The essays haven’t changed, so it doesn’t take me that long to finish up. I press submit after checking over everything seven thousand times. Immediately complete the pre-health survey which is really quick until I hit the allergies section. 

September 11 - I’m told they’re waiting on one last recommendation (no surprises there, I knew who’d be the last one in) and I receive the financial obligations form to fill out. 

September 17 - I complete the financial obligations forms and send them in, and make a desperate call to get my last recommendation in as there is a window of time before they’ll consider it an inactive file.

September 20 - My last reference is in! Yay! Now the waiting and hoping that I make the first cut starts.

September 25 - Just less than a month after I applied, I get contacted by my (amazing!) recruiter (who also happens to be an Ohioan now in California!) to set up an interview! Cue almost tears, insane joy and immediate trepidation. I am super nervous about the whole process, since it means so much to me and I only get one shot. The recruiter is out of town for a while (going to learn about the new application system) so we set an interview for October 10 in Oakland. My first trip to the East Bay!

October 8 - My amazing, seriously so amazing, co-workers set up a mock interview panel for me using random questions they found online. They even printed out a Peace Corps logo, colored it, and stuck it on the door. I’m interviewed by my boss, the receptionist of our office, my co-AmeriCorps, the mental health specialist at our school and her two children (second and fifth grade - it was Columbus Day and they had no school but we did). It totally helps, as I get a chance to really think about what’s important to say and hear feedback. The little ones even rated all of my answers for me. 

October 10 - I do a nearly two hour public transit commute to the Peace Corps offices in Oakland. I’m so nervous, but I drink some tea on the train to relax and listen to some Ohio State music to keep me pumped. The security officers at the door wish me good luck, and the receptionist is super nice. The interview goes super well. I’m prepared because of my mock interview and never feel the striking fear of having no idea what to say. I have really good questions that show that I’m invested (I had read two books and a series of articles, and cited them) and know what I’m doing. It seems to go well on both ends. I’m out the door in a little less than two hours after my recruiter says she wants to move on with the nomination process! Whoo!

October 18 - I email my recruiter to thank her for the interview and to make sure that (as she had said in the interview) she knew she had a thumbs up from me, and that I hoped the same was true on her end. 

October 19 - In the middle of school I get a call. I don’t answer because I’m busy, but I check the voicemail as soon as possible. It’s my recruiter, and she wants to talk to me about a potential position. It’s a secondary English teaching position leaving in mid to late September 2013 (right after the beginning of my availability). I’d have to be comfortable with the possibility of living with a host family for most or all of my placement, and it’d be cold in the winter. That’s all I’m given, but I email her back and say I’m interested. Within ten minutes I get my official nomination email. Cue more almost tears. 

October 20 - While enjoying an Ohio State football game I notice that I have my first medical task! Huzzah! I’m excited to have something to do until I realize that it’s a mental health form and that they want me to get it filled out by my psychologist. Earlier, on the pre-health form, I was honest when I said that I do have a phobia of thunderstorms and that I had seen a psychologist when I was younger. And while I still suffer from the phobia, I haven’t seen anyone over it in over 15 years (living in the midwest, it’s just something I learned to deal with). My excitement over the task turns to dread, as I have no idea how I will get it accomplished since no one knows anything about the previous psychologist and I really don’t want to pay to have someone evaluate me now. I email the medical staff to see what I should do.

October 23 - The medical staff informs me I can write a personal statement on my phobia, addressing certain concerns they had, and they will decide if I need to see someone further. I’m nervous - it’s hard to convey that while I do have a legitimate fear, and I really, really hate storms I’m not going to let it hold me back. Some fears you can avoid. This one you can’t, so I can’t let it get to me too much. I start the essay… but I have a hard time choosing the words. I work on it here and there with little interest.

November 11 - With the deadline for the personal statement fast approaching, I decide to stop putting it off and I realize that it doesn’t need to be an award winning essay. I write it from the heart, and decide there isn’t much better I can do. 

November 16 - I get my fingerprint forms in the mail! Naturally I get it on a Friday, so I can’t set an appointment up until after the weekend. When I try to set an appointment up, they’re all closed for Thanksgiving. When I try again, they want to charge me two separate fees since I have two cards. This seems like a rip-off to me, since I’m not taking up two appointment windows. Seriously… 68 dollars for something I could do with a two dollar ink pad from JoAnn’s? Luckily, as I’m sitting dejected over the huge fee I’ll have to pay I re-read the letter from the Peace Corps and notice that they’ll do it for free at your recruiting office. Sure, it’ll take a few hours of public transport… but I call and book an appointment with the Peace Corps and make my co-AmeriCorps call and cancel my other appointment.

November 29 - I enroll in an online TEFL certification course (120 hours). I want to make sure I have the best qualifications going into placement, and I know this will help. Plus, I really do want to learn the best way to teach grammar and all the uniqueness inherent in English.

November 30 - I spend a few soaking hours getting myself to and from Oakland. I get my fingerprints done with the fancy red ink, and ask if they happen to know any more information about my program. They don’t. No surprises, and since they change so quick they don’t want to say anything that might not be true. The receptionist tells me that I can check my status probably once a month since my departure date is so far off. I laugh. Sure. 
(Edited to add: I should have listened!!)

———————————————————————————-

February 27, 2013 – Email check in with medical to see if they had received my documents/remind them that I exist. Got the standard ‘we’ll get to you when we get to you, it’s very busy’ response.

April 2, 2013 – Email check in with legal to see if they have received my finger prints (they have, they’re waiting on medical pre-clearance before processing them). Fair enough.

April 23, 2013 – Realize that my mom is moving with my brother to a two bedroom apartment and I’m not sure what I’m going to do after my second year of AmeriCorps completes in August (and with it goes my housing). I had planned on going home and then leaving for the Peace Corps, but it definitely seems like I’m going to be delayed for an extended period of time that I don’t know what to do with. Email my recruiter and medical to see if we can get the ball rolling, and medical tells me that they have temporarily paused pre-clearance while they catch up with those departing immediately.

May 1, 2013 - I attend a Peace Corps event in Berkeley where RCPVs host tables about their countries of service. Awesome. Amazing to see so many people in the process and about to head out. A few people receive the old blue invitation packets. How my heart was beating so hard that they would call my name. They don’t. But I really want one of those envelopes one day (as opposed to the email). How can I make this dream a reality? I just want to *physically* rip something open!!

May 28, 2013 – I can’t fall asleep because I’m so stressed about what’s going on. I decide to call the pre-medical unit in the morning to see if I can get someone to look at my file. I write out an entire (awesome!) script because I hate speaking on the phone, but the call goes kind of nuts. I do get someone to look over my file and tell me that they don’t think my psych issue (a phobia) will be an issue, but that my dust and mold allergies could cause a problem. She says that she’ll try to write up the accommodations in the next few weeks if she gets a break.

May 30, 2013 – I officially finish my TEFL certificate! YAY! I can’t believe it took so long, but I’m a procrastinator and it really made me work hard for it.

June 5, 2013 – I get notice that I have a new message in the portal — could it be pre-clearance?? No, it’s not. It’s three more forms to have filled out about allergies; 1 for cats, dogs, animals, dust and mold; 1 for a self-reported Benadryl allergy; 1 for seasonal allergies. Oh and can I have these forms done in a week? No lie, I was so frustrated I cried for a few minutes. Six and a half months of being told they had everything, and then one week to get forms filled out! Luckily my mom comes through and calls my allergist’s wife (they’re next door neighbors with her best friend) and gets her to have him help me out. Within two days I have all the forms back, but I notice that he’s left out information about dust and mold, which means I have to call them. Yuck.

June 10, 2013 – To my surprise, the reason they never filled out information about dust and mold allergies is because the last time I was tested I didn’t react positively! I don’t need any accomodations at all! They fax the forms over stating that clearly, and I upload them.

June 11, 2013 – The medical office messages me to ask if I want them to mark that I have no restrictions for dust and mold. They say that if I do have restrictions, it will be incredibly hard to place me. I tell them to take the restrictions off! Whoo! I get a note back that they’ll let the officer know. I got so excited that it was pre-clearance, but it’s not – again. But right as I walked into a Radio Shack with my coworker to get something for school I check my email and it’s there — I’m finally medically pre-cleared. I instantly start to cry. The cashier is concerned at first, then really excited for me. It’s like I got an invitation, but I didn’t in the slightest. YAY more waiting. I don’t even care. At least my file is headed to someone who makes decisions!