So, for anyone visiting the site that doesn’t know the low down on how this whole application process goes, here is a brief yet detaild explanation of how you become a Peace Corps volunteer.
First, you fill out a lengthy application. This includes personal information, job and volunteer experience, preferences for locations, student loan and other financial information, etc. When I say this application is long, I mean it’s long. You also fill out a health review so they have basic information regarding any medical conditions you might have or that they might have to accommodate. A part of this process is also a request for references – one from a work supervisor, one from a volunteer supervisor, and one from a close friend.
After turning in the application, the next step is additional paperwork. Your recruitment office sends a packet with fingerprint cards, a background check form, and request for other information like certificates, transcripts, etc. Once this, and the recommendations listed above are turned in, you move to the next step.
The third step is the interview. In the interview the recruiter asks tons of questions about what you want to do, where you want to go, why you want to serve, what qualifications you have, how you’d deal with the lifestyle, and ton of other stuff. They basically want to get a feel for why you are wanting to join the program and whether they think you would be successful in a position with them for 27 months. They are also getting a feel for what you want to do/what you’re qualified for so if they want to give you a nomination, they have some idea of what nomination to give.
Then comes the next step, the nomination. A nomination comes from your recruiter if they are interested in having you continue the process. Basically the nomination is a general idea of what you’d be doing with the Peace Corps. It includes a basic job area, an area of the world (Asia, Central Europe, Africa) and a general time you’d leave (June 2010). This information is NOT set in stone, it changes for many reasons … but this basically continues you on your process.
After this, you go through medical and legal clearance. Legal clearance is usually pretty easy (background check, etc) but medical is what makes or breaks an applicant. The applicant has to see their general doctor, eye doctor, and dentist for full check ups. Dentist and eye doctor are somewhat easy unless they see some dental procedures they want done prior to service (fillings, wisdom teeth pulled, etc). It’s the general physical that takes the most work … with this you have to get blood work, immunizations, a physical exam, etc, etc. Additionally, if you listed any other conditions on your health review during the application, you may have to see additional specialists or previous doctors and provide more forms. This process I hear takes forever …
Finally, if you receive medical and legal clearance, you are ready for placement … this process can take a long time as well. This decision comes in the form of an Invitation.
The invitation is a packet that includes your exact departure date and country and a detailed description of what you will be doing. This often changes from the nomination due to medical accommodations, changes in available positions, length of time it takes to complete the steps, holds on medical clearance, etc. This invitation will come 6 weeks or more prior to departure date, but usually no earlier than three months.
Once you receive an Invitation, you are ready to start preparing for your service!
In general, this entire process takes about 9-12 months to complete … for me, if I get the nomination I’m hoping for, I’ll only have seven months to get through the entire process, which seems a bit daunting but hopefully I can make it work!