Tuesday, February 19, 2008

How to apply to the Peace Corps

To all future volunteers--you are making a great decision! When I was applying I found the blogs of PCVs very helpful, so I thought I would outline the process for you. Two pieces of advice: be patient--think of it as practice for when you get in the Peace Corps. Second, stay on top of things. Call, harass, make appointments earlier. Do whatever you have to do short of camping out at headquarters to get things done.

1.) Do research: Gather as much information as you can about what you are getting yourself into. The more you know, the better you will feel and the more questions you can answer for your family and friends (to make them feel better).
2.) Application: Fill out the online Application, Health Status Review Form (only available once you submit the online application). Once you submit the online Application, you are officially an Applicant.
3.) Interview: You will meet with your recruiter (they will be very nice, I promise) and have a long conversation about your abilities, skills, questions, mental preparedness, coping mechanisms, cultural/dietary concerns, and regional preferences. No personal questions are off limits, so be prepared! You will turn in a form to authorize a background check and get your fingerprints taken.
4.) Nomination: After the interview, your volunteer will call to tell you if you can move to the next step, if so, congrats you are an official Peace Corp Nominee! You will get a job description and region of service. You will be a Nominee for the next few months, so get use to your wicked awesome title.
5.) Evaluation: This step is easy (for you at least). The government will do a background check, so long as you are not a criminal and haven’t participated in intelligence activities you don’t have to worry about this stage.
6.) Medical Review: The most dreaded and painfully tedious step by far. You will need a physical exam, dental exam, eye exam, GYN exam (for the ladies, obviously), and blood work. Each exam comes with its own set of specific forms. Remember, patience is a virtue. Your medical packet will only be complete when HQ in Washington, D.C. says that it is. They may request additional blood work, a visit to a specialist, or that those wisdom teeth have got to go. Don’t leave anything blank, it WILL delay the process.
7.) Invitation: Once you get your medical clearance you are an official Peace Corp Invitee! YAY! It is only at this stage that you get your country assignment and departure date. This comes in a letter in the mail (try not to check obsessively, for your own sanity).
8.) Preparation: Get ready to go. Pack your very light bags, close bank accounts, sell your car, have long lunches with family and friends.
9.) Staging: At this point you are a Peace Corp Trainee, and will be so for the next three months! You will fly to your staging city somewhere in the United States and meet the other Trainees going to the same country. The three days involves paperwork, training sessions, last minute vaccinations, and stuffing your face with food and drink that you won’t see for the next 27 months.
10.) Training: Once in country, you spend 3 months with your new super cool Trainee friends and split your days between intense language lessons and culture/safety training. As always (it wouldn’t be the Peace Corps without it) there is lots of paperwork. At the end of the 3 months, you are sworn in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer.
11.) Volunteering: Two years of the “toughest job you will ever love.”

1 comment:

DJohnsonRoss said...

Hi Alicia, congratulations!! I am thrilled for you. I will be sending all my students who are thinking about Peace Corps to your blog. Since I know how my year in Cameroon transformed my life, and how anxious I am to return, I can imagine just how awesome and transformative your time in Malawi will be. I will also put you in touch with our new sociologist who is from Malawi. There might be an opportunity for some collaborative work. Best of luck, peace and blessings, Dr. Johnson-Ross