Joining the Peace Corps
Peace Corps Application Process
If you think you might be interested in the Peace Corps, a good place to start is by looking at their website. They have tons of information for people who are considering volunteering, including an interactive quiz to see if you are qualified and a plethora of journals written by actual Peace Corps volunteers. They have information about all the different job types, and even a section specifically geared toward family members (just in case your parents have a mental image of you starving and living in a mud hut for two years).
Don’t stop with the website, though. Make a few phone calls and ask around to see if you can find a returned volunteer who can speak candidly about their experience. If you don’t happen to know any volunteers directly, then ask your school counselors or professors if they know anyone. If you have a profile on a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter, consider using your status as a query: “trying to talk to people who volunteered in the Peace Corps.” If you have more than a handful of friends, chances are good that someone will know someone else and be able to connect you. It’s important not to rely exclusively on accounts published on the official website, but to find unvarnished opinions from people who have actually done it, and then see if you think the lifestyle is right for you.
Once you make your decision, the first step is filling out an application, which you can find online. If an initial screening looks like a good match, the agency will contact you for an interview. If the interview goes well, then the next step is a full medical screening. The medical screening is important because the agency doesn’t want to create a situation in which a person who needs ongoing medical care is put into a remote village with only primary care medical facilities. If the medical check goes well, then the Peace Corps looks at your qualifications to decide if they can match you with an assignment at that time. They also analyze your personality traits to see if this is a good match for you. After all the tests and assessments and matches are complete, then the Peace Corps will contact you for an assignment.
Though there are a range of volunteer jobs available with the Peace Corps, all with different qualification requirements, a few basic requirements apply to all: you must be a US citizen at least 18 years of age, and it helps to have some familiarity with at least one language other than English.
Peace Corps Recruiting
The Peace Corps is actively recruiting new volunteers all the time.
There are nine recruiting offices around the US: Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC. If you happen to live near one of the centers, you can drop in and talk to a recruiter in person. You can also call or email them to find more information. Or, you can let the Peace Corps come to you. The agency attends a variety of events throughout the country all year round. Recruiters go to information sessions, book readings, campus events, and career fairs all the time. To find a Peace Corps recruiting event near you follow the link.
Here are some examples of jobs with the Peace Corps. For more detailed information, check out www.peacecorps.gov.
Business Advising: Volunteers with a business background might teach courses on business planning or teach English to business people.
Business Development: Volunteers with degrees in Business or related fields, or career experience, consult with local business owners on planning, marketing, and financial management.
Environment: Volunteers with environmental engineering or a parks and rec background consult on best practices for preserving environmental assets while meeting the needs of the people.
Agriculture: Volunteers with an agricultural background work in farming communities to help improve the means of production.
Health: Volunteers with a medical background might educate people about nutrition and disease prevention or help with basic, primary-care medical assistance.
HIV/AIDS: Volunteers with a public health background would work to educate people in the local community about preventing and managing HIV and other STDs.
Information Technology: Volunteers with a background in computers or information science might help set up computer labs in their local community.
Food security: Workers with a background in agriculture or nutrition would help their communities build school gardens or educate others about nutrition.