Peace Corps is the toughest job you’ll ever love. It is a 27 month assignment in a developing country, with a job in one of six sectors: education, health, agriculture, community economic development, environment, and youth in development. If you’re interested in long-term volunteer work, international development, foreign aid, or experiencing another culture for the long haul, then check it out. Peace Corps could be the next step in your journey! The application process is selective and asks a lot of hopefuls, so here are my tips to stand out.
1 // Apply early
Some Peace Corps positions will be full before the application closes. Once you see a position you’re interested in, start working on your application as soon as you can. You’ll need more time than it may seem to sort through your thoughts and tackle every part of the online application with success. Also, it’s important to keep up with your application; it will expire if you don’t open it at least once every 30 days.
2 // Connect with a recruiter
You can connect with a recruiter by reaching out to your campus Career Services office, or through the Peace Corps website. Taking this step shows your commitment, and recruiters can help answer your questions about service or talk about their experience. The recruiter I connected with set up a phone interview to answer my questions about Peace Corps, and even read over my motivation statement for feedback.
3 // Spend time on your motivation statement
This part of the application is crucial. The motivation statement gives you the opportunity to express who you are, why you want to be in the Peace Corps, and why you should be selected for the position. This is your time to help them see you past your resume and the rest of your application.
I took time to focus specifically on my motivation statement after the fall semester of my senior year ended, because I had so many assignments due and finals season to worry about. It will benefit you to have no distractions while you write this, for your own self care and for the well-roundedness of your application.
4 // Pick references who really know you as a person and as a professional
Peace Corps will send your references online forms to fill out about you. Their words will contribute to the decision Peace Corps makes about your application. Think long and hard about who to ask! I suggest asking a professor if you’re still a college student; the other should be a current or former work/volunteer supervisor.
I asked the executive director at a nonprofit I’ve volunteered with for the past 3 and a half years. Her perspective into my personality and who I am as a professional made her a perfect reference for this position. My other reference was a professor who has been my academic advisor and mentor for the past two years. Pick people who have seen you grow, and who will have amazing things to say about you.
5 // Long-term experience — especially volunteer — matters
The Peace Corps values commitment. If you have long-term experience as a volunteer or employee for the same organization, then that will help you on your application and in the interview process. The interview will consist of questions about how you handled different challenges during your long-term experiences (defined as 3 months or longer). My 3 years of volunteer experience with the same organization helped me get into Peace Corps.
Above all, be yourself. Show the Peace Corps why you want to embark on the experience and challenge of a lifetime!
Edit: Click here to read more about my Peace Corps experience!
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