Happy holidays blog readers! With less than a month to go, I’ve been reflecting on how grateful I am to have completed the application process for Peace Corps. I’ve noticed that many PCVs do a blog post on their application timeline; I ended up applying for Peace Corps three times (more below), so I thought I’d share some lessons learned as well as my timeline for future PC applicants.
Since I was applying for Peace Corps Master’s International program, I waited to do my Peace Corps application until I accepted a spot at Georgia State. I applied for several positions departing the summer after my first year of classes and was offered an interview in Namibia, but I realized that I had made a mistake with dates. I informed Peace Corps and accepted their offer to be put back in the general pool. Less than a week later, I was contacted about an agribusiness position and accepted the interview although I had no experience (or interest) in agribusiness. Ordinarily, this would not have been a problem, but I was going to be conducting research for my Master’s degree in Public Administration during my service. I discussed my concerns with my interviewer, but I was offered the position anyway. I ended up deciding to turn it down for several reasons, including deciding to wait until after I finished all of my coursework to go and to wait for a position better suited to my research areas (local government and service delivery). Since I had turned down a position, I found out that I would have to withdraw and then later re-do my entire Peace Corps application.
Peace Corps does not save your old applications, so I waited until Christmas break to re-write my application. Several days later, I found out that I had to select my assignment within a few days or my application would automatically be withdrawn. The positions departing between January and March 2017 hadn’t been posted yet, so I had to withdraw. This time, however, I saved all of my application information. Several days after the January-March 2017 positions were posted, I began my application for the third (and final!) time.
- Be really, really sure that you want to do Peace Corps before you begin the application process. It is lengthy, stressful, and complex, but if you’re committed from the start and have a strong support system, you have a much better chance of making it through.
- You can begin your Peace Corps application early, but wait to submit your application until the position(s) you want are posted so that you don’t need to apply multiple times. Positions are typically posted in 3 month departure cycles about 9 months in advance. You will only have 2 calendar days to submit your three assignment choices from the date that you submit your Health History form.
- Apply as early as possible after your desired positions are posted. The entire process took me about a year, and I was grateful for the extra time to deal with issues that arose.
- Save all of your initial application information in a separate Word document and, at the end of your Health History form, print the application as a PDF just in case.
- Do not accept an invitation to an interview unless you really want that position; if you turn it down, you will have to re-do your entire application.
- If you accept an invitation, congratulations! Start your medical tasks as soon as possible, and do your dental tasks first. It took me an extra month and a half to complete my medical clearance because of my dental tasks. Be sure that you either have dental insurance or have recently checked your teeth; these tasks can get very expensive.
Click on “more” below to see my application timeline, with wait times averaged from my three applications. These are only meant to be illustrative– each invitee’s timeline, tasks and process are unique.
General application timeline
- Month 1
- Positions departing about 11 months later posted
- Day 1- Submitted Peace Corps main application (took approx. 1 week, mostly to write and edit personal statement), received link to fill out Health History form
- Day 2- Submitted Health History form (approx. 2 hours, mostly due to looking up old doctor appointments)
- Day 3- Received an email detailing the countries that I was allowed to apply for based on my Health History form and a link to a soft skills questionnaire (questionnaire completed in approx. 1 hour)
- Day 5- Submitted my Selection Form for my top 3 positions
- Day 10- Received notification that I was under consideration for position
- Day 12- Received interview request
- Day 24- Interviewed online by Peace Corps recruiter
- Month 3
- Received and accepted invitation to serve
- Received next steps email
- Month 4
- Submitted legal kit
- Received legal pre-clearance (although I didn’t find out until I emailed them to check in late October)
- Month 6
- Medical tasks opened (these become available 200 days before your departure)
- Month 7
- Completed online HIV/AIDS module and other training modules via LearningSpace
- Month 9
- First visa application submitted
- Month 10
- Visa form changed by country; submitted revised visa application
- Medical clearance (FINALLY!) received
- Month 11
- Instructed to apply for a different type of visa, submitted third (and hopefully final) visa application
- Received information about staging, a 1- to 2-day training in the US with my cohort
- Participated in a conference call with Peace Corps South Africa & Peace Corps HQ
- Month 12 (upcoming)
- Conference call with current South Africa PCVs scheduled
- Departure and beginning of pre-service training!