Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Peace Corps Timeline

Before experiencing it for myself, I never would have believed how much work and time goes into a Peace Corps application.  As per my experience, getting your nomination or placement doesn't slow down the paperwork or required steps- it just piles on more and gives you shorter deadlines! Although everyone's experience is different, there are similarities in timing and steps.  Here's what I experienced:

June 1, 2012: Completed my online application.  With multiple essays,  questionnaires, and health forms this is NOT your typical job application.  Though I finished the initial application in two days, you should definitely allow yourself at least a week.  There is a LOT to cover.  Read my application essays here.  

June 17, 2012: Completed the Health Status Review

June 20, 2012: Received an email from a placement officer ensuring that though I indicated a preference for Latin American countries, I was willing to accept an assignment wherever there is a need for my skill set.  

July 2, 2012: Proceeded with the next application phase by completing and submitting skill addendums (Extra questions about related experience), fingerprinting charts, background check forms, a notarized guarantee that my parents would cover any school loans during my service, and a college transcript.  As these were all due by July 10, I was in a little bit of a rush to get them done.  

August 2012: My recruiter unofficially informed me that I would be offered an interview

October 26, 2012: After following up with my recruiter, we scheduled a phone interview for mid November

November 21, 2012: Phone Interview with my recruiter.  Lasting about an hour and a half, we talked about my experience, Peace Corps requirements, challenges for volunteers, and also what can be gained from the experience.  This was a great time for me to ask all of the questions I had, as well as to see where I stood as an applicant.  Luckily, my recruiter told me that I was an exceptional candidate and would be receiving a nomination soon!

January 2, 2013: After following up with my recruiter I received my official nomination to serve as an agriculture volunteer departing in June, 2013.  My recruiter eased my concern about working with agriculture as he assured me the position has a heavy business education/management aspect  

Mid-January, 2013: Completed a second set of fingerprints in addition to some miscellaneous paperwork

February 11, 2013: Received an "urgent" email from a placement officer requesting an additional questionnaire to be used for placing me in an official position.  I completed the forms within a few hours. 

February 12, 2013: Received a follow-up email thanking me for being prompt while also telling me not to be alarmed if I didn't hear anything from them for several weeks........

February 22, 2013: But then I received my official invitation to begin training as a Sustainable Agricultural Systems Extension Agent in Panamá on June 19, 2013!!

February 23, 2013: Accepted my invitation!  

February 25, 2013: Received an email with instructions for how to complete my medical clearances, register for my Peace Corps Passport and Visa, and a request for my aspiration statement and updated resume.  It's safe to say that this was of the most overwhelming emails thus far

February 27, 2013: Sent updated resume and aspiration statement to the country desk

March 21, 2013: Mailed my current passport and Peace Corps passport application to Headquarters.    While the government typically doesn't allow citizens to have more than one valid passport, Peace Corps volunteers are an exception as we will carry both our personal passport and a Peace Corps passport (diplomatic immunity not included).  As the Peace Corps passport must be returned within two weeks of our close of service, we can then use our personal passport if we plan on traveling before returning to the United States. Thankfully, Panama does not require me to get a visa.

March 28, 2013: Dentist appointment.  I received a clean bill of health but had to have 18 X-Rays done.  The Peace Corps should have no question about my teeth after that...

March 28, 2013: Received a placement questionnaire via email that will be used (I believe) to place incoming volunteers into the homestays we will be living with during training.  The answers to these questions will also be taken into consideration when determining our final placement- which we won't know until well into training.

March 29, 2013: Physical Exam.  In addition to ensuring that every square inch of my body was healthy and shouldn't give out over the next several years, I had to have blood work (and she missed!), three immunizations, and a Tb test.  Since my doctor's office doesn't carry all required immunizations, I have more to come.  Great.

March 30, 2013: Returned placement questionnaire.  There were actually questions like, "How concerned are you that your village may only be reached by a three hour hike?  What about only by canoe?"  I did tell myself I was signing up for a challenge...

April 3, 2013: I head to the Health Department to get my Yellow Fever and Polio immunizations.  At least these sound cool.

Mid April, 2013: Spent a few days going back and forth with my Pre-service nurse about whether or not I needed to download a form I had already submitted, only to re-upload it to Peace Corps (who already had the form!)  ...  The answer was yes, but heck if I know why.

April 27, 2013: All medical and dental tasks completed

April 29, 2013: Final Medical and Dental Clearances!!

I'll continue to update this timeline until my staging date: June 18, 2013


  1. Hey Abby,
    I am also part of the same staging group as you. I'm really excited about it but definitely super nervous as well. All the forms to fill out I'm worried that I won't finish on time. Anyway, hopefully all goes well and we'll be meeting in DC. Feel free to contact me if you want someone to share in your excitement and anxieties.
    -Lisette ^^

    1. Hey Lisette! I'm glad you found me; I've only found one other person from our staging group so far. Are you going Sustainable Agriculture Systems as well or a different assignment?

    2. I was assigned to the health extensionist position. I found one person on facebook but I haven't gotten a response from him =(. Anyway, if you have a facebook please add me (https://www.facebook.com/lisettelopez06) it'll be much easier to talk. ^^ Nice to meet you!

  2. Very interesting. I am in the midst of applying to the Peace Corps now! I got my legal clearance about 3 weeks ago and am scheduled to leave Jan-March 2014. You got your nomination and invitation only about 6 weeks apart from one another. Very lucky! haha. I got nominated in mid-April and outside of the legal update, I was told I will not be hearing from then again for a long time. Ahhhh the waiting is so difficult

    1. Thankfully it did go really smooth for me. However, there was a huge gap/dead time before I finally asked my recruiter about me nomination. They also told me it would be another long wait before the invitation, but thankfully it came pretty fast. Goodluck with your application/placement!

  3. Hello Abby!
    I am very interested in joining the Peace Corps, I have been since I was about 10 years old! Anyway, I am 19 now and I am finally at a place in my life where it seems like an option for me and I am halfway through the application process. The problem is I don't have any education past High School but I know I have the Volunteer Experience and passion I need to overcome the challenge. I have been doing research since I was 10 and I think I've read just about every word on the website!! Moreover, what I am asking is whether or not you think I will be considered as a good candidate to be a volunteer. Will they take me seriously? Either way I am going to apply and do what it takes to volunteer, whether it is now or years from now! I just wanted an opinion from someone who has been through the process! Thank you a ton!!
    - Kasey