Travel the world. Help others. And while you're at it, build relations between the United States and other countries. These goals have motivated people to join the Peace Corps ever since John F. Kennedy created the program in 1961. As a Peace Corps volunteer, you work hard under tough conditions for little or no pay, but the rewards are worth it. Here's how to prepare for "the toughest job you'll ever love."
Visit PeaceCorps.org to learn about the mission and philosophy of the Peace Corps, as well as the two-year commitment. Talk to former Peace Corps volunteers to get a realistic idea of what you're in for.
Be--or become--a U.S. citizen. You have to be at least 18 years old to apply to the Peace Corps, but there's no upper age limit.
Earn a four-year college degree, or develop exceptional skills or work experience in anything from computer science to hydrology to animal husbandry.
Submit an application and a health-status form online or through the mail. Specify any medical conditions you have so you end up serving in a country with appropriate health care services. Send in a copy of your college transcript, a re'sume' and the names of three references. (Urge your references to submit their letters on time. As it is, the application process can take between three and six months.) Once you've sent in your application, go to PeaceCorps.org and click on "Current Applicants" to check the status of your application.
Get ready for your interview. Expect to answer both personal and professional questions, and prepare a list of your own concerns.
Receive a nomination from your recruiter. This means he or she is recommending you for a Peace Corps program in a certain geographic region, but it's still not a done deal. You need medical and legal clearance--and the final thumbs up from the Peace Corps placement office.
Get a complete physical exam, plus dental and vision checkups.
Expect to answer questions during your legal clearance about everything from finances to your marital status. The last hurdle you will face is an FBI background check.
Receive a formal invitation packet in the mail. You have 10 days to accept or reject it. If you accept, you'll receive your assignment. If you reject the invitation in search of another location, you will get pushed to the back of the line and may not get another invitation depending on what positions are available.
Attend your training and orientation in the United States.
- Contact the Peace Corps recruiter in your area if you have questions about the application process.
- Read 405 Plan a Trip, 419 Pack for a Trip, 439 Plan a Trip to a Politically Unstable Region and 436 Plan a Trip to a Different Culture.
- Pack light, because you'll need to handle your own luggage. A backpack or light suitcase on wheels is your best bet.
- Get ready for a geographic assignment you might not expect. You can state your preference, but the Peace Corps matches your skills to a country that needs them.
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