Now that I have officially received my invitation, I figured it would be helpful for others who are going through the application process, middle, beginning or end, to have yet another timeline reference from someone who has been there. Through the high points of receiving a nomination, medical clearance, invitation, etc, and the low-points of no-contact, the “Waiting Periods” in the application process, this is a comprehensive view of my 230 day process of becoming a Peace Corps volunteer. During those low-points, remember this message from Andy Warhol:
May 2010 - Nearing my college graduation and the end of my workload, I begin my Peace Corps application.
June 22, 2010 - Finished with filling out my application, I send it in electronically to the Peace Corps.
June 28, 2010 - I receive an email form my recruiter saying that he had sent me a packet of documents including fingerprint cards, a National Agency Check (NAC) form, assignment descriptions, and a reference label sheet, etc, and that I should also send him a copy of my transcript (more paperwork… and believe me, there is more to come!)
July 6, 2010 - My recruiter confirms that he has received all of my legal kit documents as well as all of my recommendations and gives me options for interview times the following week at PC Headquarters in NYC.
July 13, 2010 - I travel from Albany, NY to New York City for my Peace Corps Interview with my recruiter. My post in July, A Blink of a Day chronicled my sort of insane journey there and back that day.
July 13, 2010, later that day - After a long day, I find an email in my inbox from my recruiter saying that he is nominating me for a Business Advising program in Sub-Saharan Africa scheduled to leave in December 2010 with the requirement that I learn basic-level French before I go!
July 14, 2010 - I officially accepted my nomination!
July 19, 2010 - I’m contacted by the Office of Medical Services (OMS) at Peace Corps, who inform me that my Medical Kit is being sent to me. I begin making doctor’s, dentist, gynecologist, and eye doctor appointments immediately for early - late August.
July 30, 2010 - After not receiving my medical kit for over 10 days after OMS informed me it was on the way, I send an email to OMS asking them what’s up.
August 3, 2010 - I receive a reply from OMS saying that the package was sent via UPS and that it obviously wouldn’t make it to my P.O. Box because UPS doesn’t send mail to PO Boxes. Hmmm… silly, right? They resend my Medical Kit via USPS.
August 5, 2010 - Finally receive my Medical Kit and start filling out the insane paperwork that accompanies it!
August 31, 2010 - After many, many doctors appointments, phone calls, passing out at blood tests, etc, I finally get all of my Medical Kit paperwork together after photocopying everything - make sure you do this just in case OMS may lose something; it’s a pain, but it will be worth it if this were to happen! - and send it off to OMS. Phew, this was a serious relief.
September 4, 2010 - I get an online Peace Corps Toolkit update stating that OMS has received my Medical Kit.
September 11, 2010 - I receive another Toolkit update stating that a decision has been reached regarding my Medical clearance and a letter is in the mail.
September 18, 2010 - I receive my letter from OMS informing me that I have been medically qualified for service and the Office of Placement notified! My online Toolkit is also updated with this new status.
September 21, 2010 - I am contacted by my Placement and Assessment Assistant who asks me for, you guessed it, more paperwork! This time around it’s an updated resume, my final transcript, documentation that I had been actively learning French since my nomination, and I also had to re-do my cross-cultural essay from my initial application (I remember being a little overwhelmed by this email…)
September 23, 2010 - I respond with several questions to my Placement Assistant about my resume and cross-cultural essay rewrite and also send her my final transcript.
October 12, 2010 - I contact a local French tutor to help me gain the proficiency I will need to pass the CLEP French Language Exam.
October 22, 2010 - After sending all of the paperwork my Placement Assistant needed from me, except for my documentation of French progress, she informs me that she has received everything and that I should take the CLEP French exam as soon as possible. Oh, and that the program for which I was originally nominated in December is full (A little disheartening…)
November 10, 2010 - I receive a mass email from my eventual Placement Officer (PO) informing myself and other applicants in my situation that due to a number of reasons including timing of medical clearances, competitiveness for programs, canceling of programs, etc, our originally nominated programs have all been filled and that Placement will be contacting each of us soon to discuss new options for the January - March 2011 departure timeframe.
November 15, 2010 - I take the CLEP French Language Exam and pass! With a score of 53, I surpassed Peace Corps’ minimum score of 50. After a crash-course in French for only 3-4 months, I was proud of myself to say the least!
November 30, 2010 - My Placement Assistant contacts me by email and informs me that after receiving my official CLEP Exam transcript, that my file has been deemed complete and was now being passed to my PO, a.k.a. the big Kahuna, the decider, in the final say of where and when you will go as a Peace Corps volunteer!
December 20, 2010 - My PO sends another mass-email to me and fellow Applicants in the same boat informing us that all programs have been filled for the January - March 2011 timeframe and that placement would now be looking at options for the April - July 2011 timeframe for all of us. Meh… Third time’s a charm, right?
December 22, 2010 - I send my Placement Assistant an email thanking her for all of her help while my application was in her hands and a Happy Holiday season. I also send one to my yet-to-be-spoken-with, elusive PO, stating that I hoped she would enjoy her Holiday’s, asking her some questions about updating my resume, and that I looked forward to speaking with her after the New Year (Hey, some advice, it doesn’t hurt to take the initiative and make contact during the Peace Corps Application process sometimes!)
January 6, 2011 - At last!!! My PO contacts me in an email informing me that she is now reviewing my file for placement and asks me to schedule a time for a 30-minute phone call in the near future.
January 12, 2011 - I have my phone discussion with my PO, lasting about 45 minutes. At the end of the conversation, she informs me that she is nominating me for another program in francophone Sub-Saharan Africa, departing mid-June in Small Business Development and that she would take the next 1-2 weeks to do a final review of my file before getting back to me! See my post here.
January 31, 2011 - After the 2.5 week mark passed, I send my PO an email inquiring as to my application status and if she could give me any information as to my current nomination.
February 2, 2011 - My PO responds, apologizing as it had taken her longer than anticipated to complete the review of my file, BUT that she has cleared me for service and is sending my INVITATION in the mail that day!
February 7, 2011 - I receive my official Peace Corps Invitation Kit (a.k.a. The Big Blue Packet or BPP) in the mail and find out that I have been invited to serve as a Small Enterprise Development volunteer in SENEGAL! After reading through the Welcome Book, Volunteer Assignment Description, etc, I send in my acceptance email!
February 8, 2011 - Wanting to get everything done quickly and on time, I fill out my no-fee Passport and Senegal Visa applications, get my required passport photos taken, and send the paperwork to Peace Corps!
June 13, 2011 - Pre-departure staging in a city yet-to-be-determined for PC Senegal!
Total number of days (Application to Invitation): 230
Total number of days (Application to Departure): 356
My mantra during the Peace Corps Application Process: Patience is a virtue.