So when you start your Peace Corps (PC) application process, you start looking up everything you can about the PC and current volunteers. Some times this takes the form of finding every Peace Corps Volunteer’s (PCV) blog to find out about their experiences. I willingly admit, I did this obsessively for several months, and many blogs were incredibly enlightening about what I should expect as a PCV. What I found really helpful however, were the timelines of the application process.
Since I have reached the end of my application process and will be leaving soon to start my own PC journey, I thought I would post some important dates and give an approximate timeline of my application process, from when I handed in my application, to when I got my invitation. Enjoy!
August 26th, 2012:
Handed in my online application after careful thought for the last two years. Honestly, been thinking about it since high school but it was the last two years of college where I had been seriously considering participating in the Peace Corps service. Talking to friends and teaching assistants who had gone through the Peace Corps was incredibly encouraging, as well as having two very supportive parents (and many supportive friends).
September 3rd, 2012:
Got a call from the recruiting office in San Francisco, asking for some information about my current location… You see, I had been up in Alaska for the summer of 2012 (which was awesome) but they wanted to know for the sake of putting me in contact with the right recruiter. She also wanted to let me know that they were going to go ahead and contact my references, and that I should let them know to return it within the next two weeks (which all of them did) . And finally they gave me an address to send my official transcripts to.
Getting that contact within a week of handing in my application was incredibly encouraging…Someone human was looking at my application! Must mean something.
September 28th, 2012:
My Sacramento based recruiter contacted me with times and dates for an interview. I chose the closest date I could pick, and prepared by really clarifying why I wanted to do the Peace Corps, my motivations are, and what I hoped I could get out of the experience. I also did a lot of research into questions, what to expect and looking into anything Peace Corps related. I drew up a list of questions that I wanted to ask the recruiter, and typed it up (you know… to look professional, and that I had thought about it, which makes a good impression). Most of my questions were safety and application process based, and answered early on, but it never hurts.
October 3rd, 2012:
On the day of the interview I woke up incredibly early (there was even a pack of coyotes on my lawn – which I took as good luck) and drove down to Sacramento State. I made sure I got their early to find parking and find the building the interview was taking place in. It was also my first time on a college campus since I had graduated in June, so being around all of the studious people was quite a change of scene and weirdly added to my nervousness.
But the interview itself was one of my better interview experiences that I have ever had. The entire thing lasted about an hour and a half, and we started off with what the application process was going to be like and the importance of safety for all volunteers (basically if something happens, and I need to get out of site, I might get to ride a helicopter… just saying). We also discussed the infrastructure of Peace Corps and what was expected out of volunteers (your primary versus secondary project for example). We also talked about her own experience in Peace Corps (a small island in Micronesia). When we got down to the nitty gritty interview, my research paid off in that none of the interview questions were a surprise and I was able to provide succinct/clear answers. We discussed positions I was qualified for and discussed how the next several months might play out. Overall I left the interview feeling good and looking for what I could get nominated for.
October 19th, 2012:
Received an email asking follow up questions: they varied, from things like, are you comfortable carrying your water (up to 10 liters)? Biking five miles a day? (That is something I prepared for in Davis..) Would you be willing to learn French? Get some experience with ESL? I answered them all promptly, and started getting my hands on some French books. In the end I didn’t need to sign paper work that I was going to agree to gain certain experiences for a nomination, but it did offer some insight into what I may or may not be doing. ( I was in Ohio when I got this email)
October 16th, 2012:
I got an email saying that I had gotten nominated for a position for Youth in Development that could leave in April (tentative). This is what I expected, as more agriculture based positions are few and far between, and I have had a lot of experience working with kids especially special needs in high school. Overall I was really excited, and let family and friends know.
November 29-30th, 2012:
So far my one frustrating part of the process.
A month went by without much communication, even though I knew that I needed to do a legal background check etc. Well, as it turns out, the package I was expecting went through a delivery snafu, and got returned. Luckily the recruiter in San Francisco took the time to contact me and I explained where it should get mailed and very apologetic about the whole thing. I ended up getting the package by the end of the week. Determined to make up for lost time, I was determined to get it mailed and on its way by the next day. However, on my search for a fingerprinting place in South Lake Tahoe ( you need to have your finger prints done professionally – no stamp pad for me) , I found out that there are only two, and they were booked up until the middle of December. This would not do. So off to Reno I go, where after a two hour drive through the snow, sleet and rain, it took me a half hour to get my finger prints done and FedEx the package off to Washington DC. You’re looking at a champ right here. Now to sit and wait for the next step. Which I’m pretty sure will be medical part….
December 3rd, 2012 :
FedEx package with background check papers arrive in Washington DC .
December 4, 2012:
Received an email from the Washington DC office asking for an updated version of my resume and to answer some follow up questions. I started working on it promptly.
December 5, 2012: Sent off the necessary documents – and got this reply
Thank you for your quick reply and follow-up documents; I appreciate it. I have added your newest information into your file and passed your application along for further review. We will be in touch with you in the next 1-2 weeks to discussion your application in particular and Peace Corps in general. ..
December 8, 2012:
Checked my application status, and I have been legally cleared.
January 8, 2013:
I have received this email.
[ I’m] writing with the Peace Corps Placement & Assessment Office. I am responsible for placing applicants in both Education and Youth Development programs worldwide….I have also shared a document describing positions in the Youth Development Sector to which you were nominated. This document, as well as thePeace Corps website, can give you a better understanding of what volunteers can expect in the Youth Development Sector. I would like to ask you a few questions and give you an opportunity to ask me questions. If you would, please reply to this email with a few times (East Coast, daytime hours) that I might call you, perhaps in the next few weeks. We are currently considering applicants for assignments departing world-wide in early to mid (May & June) 2013.
December 18, 2012 :
Received this email (!!!) :
Thank you for your email. I am happy to share that the final review of your application has been completed and you have been found Qualified by the Assessment & Placement Office and, as a result, you are now eligible to receive an invitation. ….
January 24th, 2013:
BIG DAY !
Congratulations! It is with great pleasure that we invite you to begin training in Mongolia for Peace Corps service. You will be joining thousands of Americans who are building stronger communities around the world. This call to action gives you the opportunity to learn new skills and to find the best in yourself.
What followed after (and was a lot more tedious) was a couple of months of vaccinations, doctors appointments and LOTS of paperwork. Which due to being a convoluted process to begin with, was really hard to document. However, I’m sure for most people looking to see what the application process is like, the information above is pretty helpful as to what to expect.
Overall the entire application process, from when I handed in my application to receiving an invitation, took 151 days or 4 months, 29 days . From the time I put my application in and when I leave, it will be 274 days or 9 months, 1 day. Which from what I understand is average for most Peace Corps volunteers.