You’ve done some deep thinking and have decided to become a Peace Corps Volunteer. Good for you!
What are the requirements?
Being a PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) means it’ll be your job not only to help a community improve but also act as an ambassador of the United States. As such, there are requirements that need to be meet before you can apply.
Things to know before starting
The application process is long; expect a year to go from submitting your application to getting an assignment. Personally, it’s been almost a year and half for me to get through it. Be prepared for that.
It’s also commonly said that you really only have control over one of the three options of your volunteer service: when you go, what you do, and where you go. You’ll be asked about all three, but keep that in mind and figure out what’s a priority for you and PC will find an assignment that matches that best. Your mind might shift and change, but connecting with your recruiter will help you get the assignment you want. Flexibility is a huge skill to have when living abroad; this will serve as a test for it.
The Peace Corps Application
The Peace Corps application is all online, which can be found at peacecorps.gov. There are two parts, the preliminary application and the actual application.
The Preliminary Application
This serves as a brief intro to yourself, like a cover letter. It’s a quick, ten question form. The information required to fill this out is basic:
- When you are free to go
- Education level you’ll be at when you leave
- Area of skill
- Known Languages
- What brought Peace Corps to your attention
The Actual Application
This form is a doozy; most people take two weeks to finish it. That’s because parts of it require information gathering and thought. The application requires you to turn in:
- Two essays
- Three references
- Employment history
- Community and volunteer activities
- Educational background
- Copy of college transcripts (if you’ve been working less than 10 years)
- Financial obligation information
- Heath Status Review
Through a feature on the site called My Toolkit, you’ll be able to switch between parts of the application to complete what you can and keep track of what you have left to do.
Questions the Application Asks
The application has 20 different pages of information for you fill out. Take your time and don’t rush through things.
Page 1 – Core Expectations for Volunteers and Peace Corps Mission Statement
Review them and indicate you understand them and will be responsible for meeting them.
Page 2 – Eligibility
Give information about your citizenship, place of birth and age.
Page 3 – Personal Information
The application asks for your name, social security number, gender, available dates for service, address, contact information for yourself and someone in the US.
Page 4 – Application Information
This page asks about past involvement with the Peace Corps.
Page 5 – Marital Status
Fill out information about all spouses you may have had, even if they are deceased or you are now divorced.
If you are divorced, you’ll have to provide legal copies of all paperwork involved in that processes.
If you’re applying as a couple, you’ll have to submit a marriage certificate. Take note: In order for Peace Corps to keep you together, you’ll have to apply to the same country, at the same time, and have been married for more than a year before leaving.
Page 6 – Dependents
Include information about any dependents you may have, child or not. If you are leaving people behind at home, you’ll have to submit a document explaining how you’ll provide for them while you are gone.
Page 7 – Military Status
Give information about military involvement.
Page 8 – Drug, Alcohol, and Legal Information
Answer questions about legal issues regarding drugs, alcohol, felonies, criminal cases, court martials, arrests, and civil suits. Paperwork surrounding such offences must also be submitted.
Page 9 – Financial Obligations
Fill out questions about loans and other financial obligations like mortgages, debts, taxes, alimony, and child support. Also provide documentation establishing that you have arranged how to handle these obligations while you are gone.
Page 10 – Intelligent Activities and Organizations
You cannot be in the Peace Corps if they have connections to an intelligence agency or are applying to one. These questions determine if you have such limitations.
Page 11 – Post-Secondary Education
Fill out information about the colleges/universities you have attended. A transcript from all post secondary schools you attended need to be mailed to your regional recruitment office.
Page 12 – Language Skills
Describe any education and proficiency of language you have.
Page 13 – Licenses and Certificates
List any you have earned.
Page 14 – Employment History
You’ll have to type in your employment history, as well as upload a resume.
Page 15 – Community and Volunteer Activities
List any groups you belong to, for how long, and what you did. This part is really important, especially if you haven’t been in the work force long, and it weighs heavily in considering your likelihood of being a volunteer.
Page 16 – Practical Experience
The application will list skill areas and ask for your experience dealing with any of them.
Page 17 – Regional Interests
Select what areas you are willing to go to for service. Also list other countries you have family in, so Peace Corps doesn’t send you there in an effort to prevent a conflict of interest.
Page 18 – Essays
You’ll have two, like I mentioned before. Both are to be short, 250 - 500 words.
The first will be why you want to be a volunteer, how those reasons relate to past experience and future goals, and how you expect to satisfy the Peace Corps Core Expectations.
The second will be based on the specifics of an experience you had working in an environment different than your own. What where the challenges, and what did you learn?
Page 19 – Certification
Certify that the information in the application is all true, and select your race.
Page 20 – Privacy Act Statement
You don’t have to do anything here, it’s just a statement saying that Peace Corps will protect the information you gave them.
Letters of Recommendations
You’ll need three letters, each from a different type of person.
- A current/previous employment supervisor
- A current/previous volunteer work supervisor (can be substituted for another employment supervisor or a professor from your academic department)
- A close friend who has known you for at least two years (not a family member or someone you’ve been romantically involved with)
The recommendations are done through secure channels on the Peace Corps website, but may also be done through paper if necessary for one of the people giving you a recommendation. The website does allow you to see who has sent a recommendation in and who hasn’t, allowing you to send reminders which I found super useful.
Click submit, and you’re all set. The next step is the interview.