Currently the Peace Corps advertises that you should apply 13 months before you would be ready to serve, because the application and placement process takes that long. For various reasons, I think my process went rather quickly. Here’s a breakdown of the timeline of my application process, from inception to the present and beyond.
Early April 2009 and prior: Started thinking vaguely about the idea of teaching English abroad, Peace Corps, and other such viable future options.
April 22: found out about the Master’s International Program at American University from their website, combining Peace Corps service teaching English with study for a Master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL, also sometimes referred to as TEFL or TESL, Teaching English as a Foreign/Second Language).
April 26: Decided to apply to the program at American.
April 27: Attended a general Peace Corps info session in San Jose. This was followed by an evening Zumba class with Claire, in unrelated news that I feel the need to mention.
April 29: Talked to the then-head of the TESOL program at American and decided to go ahead with application to that program.
May 3: Started thinking about applying to additional TESOL programs, including the Monterey Institute.
May 5: Began work on the Peace Corps application. The application is rather extensive, including basic work/educational info, volunteer and other experience info, a health form, listing priorities in terms of placement, two essays, and three letters of recommendation (one from a friend, one from a work supervisor, and one from a volunteer or other work supervisor).
May 5: Completed and sent in the application to American University.
May 8: Visited the Monterey Institute.
May 11: Completed and sent in the application to Monterey.
May 12: While visiting DC as part of an unrelated trip for pleasure, I visited American.
May 26: Was admitted to Monterey. Was admitted informally to American around this time as well.
June 11: Last day of my previous marketing job.
June 15: Submitted Peace Corps application (except recommendations). Began summer job at Stanford.
June 30: Decided, for a variety of off-topic reasons, to attend American University, and declined the offer from Monterey.
July 7: Had my Peace Corps interview in Oakland, CA.
July 10: All three recommenders finished submitting their letters.
July 27: Was nominated to the Peace Corps as per the recommendation of my interviewer, pending medical clearance.
July 30: Received the Peace Corps medical packet, with instructions to complete a physical, dental exam/any necessary dental work, eye exam, and lab work (inc. like 6 blood tests), and immunizations, with accompanying forms to be filled out at each step.
July 31: Had lab work done.
Aug 6: My summer job complete, I moved from Palo Alto back down to my “staging area” of home in Redlands.
Aug 11-13: Had dental exams, xrays, and a cavity filled. Had my physical. Had my optometrist appointment.
Aug 14: Mailed in medical packet. This whole medical process is where I saved the most time: only thanks to my “connections” at the doctor’s office and general on-top-of-it-ness of Roberta was I able to get everything done so fast.
Aug 17: Moved from Redlands to Washington, DC with my two suitcases.
Aug 24: Began classes at American Unviersity.
Oct 12: I think this is when my medical clearance went through, though not exactly sure.
Oct 31: Confirmed I would be able to complete the appropriate amount of coursework to be ready to go for Peace Corps by the end of May, 2010, and informed the Peace Corps of this. Also I asked when I might get to know of a possible placement and was told that February would be the earliest I might know.
Nov 18: Missed a phone call from a Peace Corps placement officer. We played phone tag for the next few days.
Nov 23: Connected with the placement officer. She conducted a brief additioanl interview and then told me she was going to go ahead and offer an inviation. She would not tell me the exact location, but hinted it might be China, and said the packet would be mailed with all details the next day.
Nov 29: Upon returning from Thanksgiving vacation, found the invitation packet to China waiting for me in the mail.
So that’s it, my application and other pertinent processes over the last few months. Pretty quick, all things considered. There’s still a lot to do: visa and passport paperwork, additional medical clearance and exams, submitting additional personal info like an updated resume, etc etc. It won’t be until about a month before I go that I’ll receive more details about training, and later for my actual placement. Whew!