Published on April 9, 2021
Consider international service with the Peace Corps after graduation
Applications now accepted for jobs starting in 2022.
Visualize your future. Life after graduation. Maybe you see your career unfolding, marriage, a kid or three, and buying your first home. Imagine in your future a two-year stint serving in the developing world.
That is what you do in the Peace Corps. My wife and I were accepted and served two years in the African nation of Zambia back in 2008. That February, Lisa and I packed our bags, got on an airplane and left home. We proudly served two years as Peace Corps volunteers. Working in the agricultural sector, I promoted conservation farming techniques to area growers. I also worked with school groups helping them grow trees that could provide fruit for to their farming families. Lisa worked with an area women’s sewing collective advising them on how to scale-up production of their crafts. Besides the education sector – in which Lisa served – and my agriculture/environment sector, Peace Corps has volunteers in the health, environment, youth in development, and community economic development sectors. Now a decade after my Peace Corps service in Zambia, I work as the MU-based Campus Strategic Recruiter for the Peace Corps.
Are you wondering if Peace Corps may be right for you? Here’s some of the basics:
The Peace Corps was founded in 1961.
Since then, over 240,000 American Peace Corps volunteers have served in 142 countries. Many MU graduates have served. MU was also an early Peace Corps training site. You can hear a few stories of service from four Returned Peace Corps Volunteers share their memories at a May 3, 2021 virtual panel sponsored by the Columbia Public Library.
Didn’t the Peace Corps shut down for the pandemic?
When the global pandemic shut down many activities in March 2020, Peace Corps was no exception. While staff remain in the field and at our DC headquarters, all Peace Corps volunteers were removed from their sites and brought home early last year. Volunteers’ safety and security remain Peace Corps highest concern and will continue to guide each country’s re-opening after the pandemic. Positions posted currently have start dates in late 2021 and 2022.
Can I talk to my family while I am away?
Yes. Most Peace Corps volunteers have mobile phones. Many talk and text regularly to their friends and family back home. After your pre-service training and community entry periods, family can visit you at your site. Such a visit is a great way for loved ones to really understand what your service is like. Each volunteer gets US and host country holidays that allow for travel within and beyond your country of service. This time can be used to travel back to the US during service.
Can I choose where I go?
Yes. Applicants select a country and a sector of service. You can also show flexibility by telling Peace Corps to place you where you are needed most. Making this latter selection will likely speed your application process as it gives Peace Corps the most latitude when selecting a good fitting site for you.
Do I get paid during service?
Yes. While in service you get a living allowance paid monthly from the Peace Corps. This amount allows you to live modestly and at a level similar to an elementary school teacher in your country of service. After your close of service, you receive a resettlement allowance. This is around $250.00 per month of completed Peace Corps service. This money is an acknowledgement of your service and is intended to assist when setting up a new home after Peace Corps service ends. Another benefit of becoming a volunteer? Peace Corps service looks great on a resume’. Your service tells employers you are highly motivated and committed to making the world a better place.
Is it competitive to get in the Peace Corps?
Somewhat. About 35% of Peace Corps applicants get an invitation to serve. You can build a strong resume’ for your Peace Corps application by maintaining foreign language skills, doing progressively responsible community service and travelling internationally. Your application is also more competitive when your respond promptly to Peace Corps staff’s request for additional information during their review process.
To learn more about the Peace Corps
Schedule a time to learn more the Peace Corps. In my role as the recruiter at MU, I answer questions from students and others who are trying to decide if Peace Corps is right for them. I assist prospective Peace Corps volunteers with preparing competitive applications and doing practice interviews.
If you want to know more about the Peace Corps, visit their website, look at upcoming recruiting events, current openings and schedule a time to talk about how your skills might be well-used in the Peace Corps.
Spring 2021 semester virtual office hours each Wednesday from 9-11am and Thursday from 1-3pm and by appointment.