By Julia Tebben, Assistant Director, Career and Professional Development Services and Claire Michael
Are you considering the Peace Corps but concerned about the 27 month commitment or challenges you might face in another country? It can be daunting to convince yourself, family and friends that this is the right choice. So let’s start off with the basics - Are you eligible?:
Are you at least 18 years of age and a U.S. Citizen?
If so, you meet the mandatory requirements, but most positions will also require a degree or 5 years of relevant work experience. If you are not a U.S. Citizen, there are other volunteering options that might be right for you, such as World Teach or Teach for America.
Now, are you a good fit for Peace Corps? You might be if most of the following 7 reasons sound like you:
You are interested in volunteering.
The Peace Corps is an organization dedicated to promoting world peace and friendship through service and cultural exchange. Because the commitment to Peace Corps is accomplished through long-term volunteer projects, they are looking for individuals with a similar set of values and those who are willing to dedicate their time and efforts to their host communities.
You want to make a difference.
Every volunteer project is different, and working internationally doesn’t always go the way people planned. Nearly all volunteers learn from failed projects, and for many, the benefits of their work will only be visible in years to come. However, even if your service doesn’t turn out exactly as you had hoped, Peace Corps can prepare you with experience and knowledge to have a fulfilling and impactful career.
Determination is your middle name.
There is a reason why Peace Corps Service is often called “the toughest job you’ll ever love.” Culture shock, navigating a country and community completely new to you, and learning to communicate and work in a new language are all struggles volunteers face.
The flip side of this is the sense of accomplishment that comes from working through these challenges to build meaningful relationships with counterparts, develop sustainable projects, and take part in lasting change in the communities where volunteers serve.
You are looking for an opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture.
Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) have the unique chance to not only work in another country on grassroots projects, but integral to this work is the integration into their host communities. At the root of a PCV’s service is the need to build trust and learn from host-country partners. This learning begins during 3 months of pre-service training and lasts throughout the entirety of a volunteer’s time at site.
The idea of learning another language excites you.
Of course, a cornerstone to successful cultural integration is language, and 100% of volunteers learn a language during their service!** This includes classroom and community-based activities taught five days a week by local instructors during pre-service training. Volunteers also live with host families during this time to practice the concepts they learn.
It’s important to keep in mind that all volunteers are required to meet minimum language requirements before transitioning to site. Peace Corps language training is structured to help volunteers be as successful as possible in their new language, and PCVs are even given support in finding a tutor after training if so desired.
**French and Spanish speaking countries (many in Latin America, and some in parts of West Africa) may require an initial level of proficiency in the country’s official language to be accepted in that country.
You want to work internationally or for the federal government and are interested in gaining new skills valued in the corporate, nonprofit, or government sectors.
Ask any aid worker, government employee, international nonprofit, or even grad schools - they will all tell you Peace Corps will give you a leg up regardless of what you want to do or where you want to work. Between the experience with an internationally recognized organization and the alumni network, Peace Corps can help you launch your career.
If you are interested in learning more, schedule an appointment with the ASU recruiter, firstname.lastname@example.org, and while you’re at it, take a look at all of the amazing Peace Corps initiatives on campus as well.