Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Is It Hard To Get Into The Peace Corps?

This is a question that I see a lot on message boards or on the Peace Corps Journals website. There is a lot to be said about this so I hope to do this in two parts (hang in there). The straight forward answer to question is yes and no.  Okay, I admit it that isn't that straight forward at all but at least you get an honest answer. 

The Peace Corps is a service in which you volunteer for but you are also trying to get hired on by the government. They don't take just anyone. Because of this there are several prerequisites. If you do not meet these requirements don't bother applying. It wouldn't be worth the effort. Here are a few.

-You must have a four year college/university degree in something. It really doesn't matter what it is in really because they can always fit you somewhere teaching English. I hear it is not always required to have a degree but you would have to have had some real time experience in the field somewhere.  I believe it is three to five years minimum. This is the one I see the most confusion on. I see a lot of people out of high school excited to serve but have not read the fine print. They will most likely won't even look at the application because they want people that can be a true service to the host country nationals. Not just someone with a great heart. 

-You need to be willing to commit to 27 months of service. Peace Corps does not offer shorter terms. Twenty seven months isn't for the faint of heart. It sounds so fantastic to live in a foreign land, to learn a new language, etc. The truth is that in the beginning it does feel fantastic to be doing these things but just like the feel of a new car it wears off. Apply for the right reasons. Think it through. Don't just apply for an escape. Sometimes where you escape to is even more challenging then where you came from. 

-You need to have some past volunteering experience. That was one of the things that was asked of me in my entire process from application to invitation. They wanted to make sure that my experience matched the job that they wanted to give me. This is partly because they want to make sure that you are serious about wanting to serve. I am sure that the thought process is that if you haven't shown that you served somewhere in the past then why would you be a good candidate to volunteer for such a long time. They want to make sure you are relevant when you get to your host country and have real skills to offer. 

-You need to be healthy. Straight to the point: You are an investment. They want people who have little to no health problems. This is because they do not want to have to spend a lot of money on you when you get in country. They are running on a budget (part of the government remember). So why would they accept you over another when you might have or had health issues. Also remember that things like past surgeries are risky and need to have supervision. There are chances that you could be restricted on where you go because of medical. I know I didn't get my original nomination because of health stuff. In the end it's a really great feeling that you that you can be safe away from home. They are looking out for you and themselves. If you have questions of what it means to be "healthy" check the PC website for more detailed information. Also, here is a PDF which speaks about the subject.

So there you have it. A little information to think about and I hope to have a part two in the next couple of days. If you have any questions leave a comment and I will try my best to answer it. 

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