The Peace Corps website and recruiters will tell you that it takes about 12 months from when an applicant submits their application until they receive their invitation to serve, and sometimes a little longer for married couples. While I think this can be the case, it seems to only be the case when stars align perfectly. In no way do I think that the recruiters are purposefully trying to create false expectations, my opinion is that there are just many hoops and hurdles to jump, so it lengthens the process. As we are finally a few days out from our departure to Cameroon, I thought it would be a good time to lay out our application process as to help other Peace Corps applicants who may be interested in the process. Remember that every time frame will vary from person to person so don’t expect anyone else’s process to be a prediction of yours.
– Applications submitted on the Peace Corps Website.
– Fingerprint and background check forms submitted.
– Interview with our regional recruiter; told we were initially approved! This now means our recruiter looks for a position that each of us qualify for, when this is found, we are nominated to the position.
– Received our nomination! We were nominated to a business advising and health position in Sub-Saharan Africa, with an expected departure date of January 2012.
– Received all of our medical, legal, and dental paperwork to complete for our legal clearances.
– By the end of June, we had submitted all of the above paperwork to Peace Corps HQ for review.
– Received our clearances from the medical, dental, and legal offices. (Note: we had a few circumstances that needed more information or follow up, so this may have taken longer for us than for others.)
– Final Suitability Interview to determine whether or not we still qualified for service.
– Informed that we ‘passed’ our final suitability interview and would soon be hearing about information about when to expect our assignments (early March)!
– Received our Invitation Kit, which included our assignments and tons of other financial and legal information for service in the Peace Corps.
– Accepted our positions to serve in Cameroon!
– Getting ready to go; filling out student loan paperwork, yellow fever vaccines, packing, buying things we will need, reading travel books on Cameroon, and spending time with family and friends.
May 29, 2012: IT ALL BEGINS!
– May 29th, we head to Philadelphia.
– May 30th, training in Philly with all of the Volunteers heading to Cameroon.
– May 31st, fly out to Cameroon!
All in all, it took us about 19 months from when we submitted our application on the website until we take off for our country of service. If you are a Peace Corps applicant now, my best advice to you is be patient and follow up. Follow up with your recruiter, keep checking in, and definitely follow up with your clearances, as it seems there is always something more you can provide to them to move things along quicker.