What about the Peace Corps or International Development Jobs?

"The Peace Corps works in countries from Asia to Central America, and from Europe to Africa. In each of these countries, Volunteers work with governments, schools, and entrepreneurs to address changing and complex needs in education, health and HIV/AIDS, business, information technology, agriculture, and the environment." Image: www.peacecorps.gov

“The Peace Corps works in countries from Asia to Central America, and from Europe to Africa. In each of these countries, Volunteers work with governments, schools, and entrepreneurs to address changing and complex needs in education, health and HIV/AIDS, business, information technology, agriculture, and the environment.”
Image/Info from: www.peacecorps.gov

This guest post was written by Katrina Deutsch, a Peace Corps recruiter for the Metro-Boston area and a frequent Employer in Residence at Northeastern University. 

When I started my job search my senior year of college, I knew I wanted to work internationally after graduation. Quick searches through my university’s job board left me discouraged, as I was under qualified for most of the jobs I was interested in. I started looking into international volunteer organizations, specifically in health and teaching, as those were the areas in which my past travels fell. I was again discouraged, mostly because so many international volunteer organizations required a fee to participate, and money was something I didn’t have.

But there was always one organization I kept coming back to – the Peace Corps. I knew what it was; as I had met Peace Corps Volunteers traveling in Swaziland my first summer abroad. I also knew my mother would object. After more research, I decided to apply to the Peace Corps and thought it would be best to not tell my parents about my application. After all, I wasn’t sure I would receive an invitation, so why get them worried for no reason?

PEACE CORPS FAST FACTS:

  • Established on March 1, 1961 by John F. Kennedy
  • Currently serve in 65 countries; have served in 139 countries
  • 7,209 volunteers and trainees currently in service
  • Work in the areas of education, health, environment, community economic development, youth in development and agriculture
  • Annual budget of $356.25 million

The Peace Corps appealed to me. First, I did not have to pay. The Peace Corps is a U.S. Government Agency, and funding comes from the government. In fact, the Peace Corps was going to pay me at the local level to volunteer! Second, it was a 27 month commitment, and I was hoping to work abroad for at least one year, which is something most other organizations did not provide. Third, I felt that the experience I would gain through my Peace Corps service would give me the skills I needed to qualify for the jobs I wanted.

First Group of 51 Peace Corps Volunteers, Aug 30, 1961. The first group of 51 Peace Corps Volunteers, Ghana I, arrives in Accra to serve as teachers. Image/info from http://www.peacecorps.gov/about/history/

“First Group of 51 Peace Corps Volunteers, Aug 30, 1961. The first group of 51 Peace Corps Volunteers, Ghana I, arrives in Accra to serve as teachers.”
Image/info from: http://www.peacecorps.gov/about/history/

TIPS FOR THE PEACE CORPS APPLICATION:

  • Speak to a Peace Corps Recruiter about your skills and qualifications
  • Prepare all necessary documents, including transcripts, financial obligation information, and reference contact information
  • Complete the application within 30 days from starting
  • Be prepared to answer questions about your medical history
  • Tell your parents you are applying to the Peace Corps when you start – the more information and time they have to learn about the Peace Corps,  the easier it will be for you and your parents!

Unfortunately for my parents, I received an invitation to serve in the Peace Corps as a Secondary Education English Teacher in Nicaragua. I accepted my invitation and departed for service the summer after graduating.

The Peace Corps developed my skills and abilities far more than I had anticipated.  I gained valuable language skills and nearly three years of international development experience (I extended my service beyond the two year commitment).  I also discovered a passion that tied all of my initial career goals together: international education development and policy.

After Peace Corps, I attended graduate school to receive my master’s degree in international education policy. I hadn’t planned to attend graduate school so soon after college.  However, I knew that my experience and a graduate degree would make me competitive for many of the jobs I was interested in.

TIPS FOR APPLYING TO GRADUATE SCHOOL:

  • Consider the Peace Corps Masters International or Peace Corps Fellows program, combining graduate school and Peace Corps
  • Make sure you’re passionate about what you plan on studying – don’t go to graduate school just to go to graduate school
  • Reach out to alumni from schools to hear their experiences
  • Consider all variables, not just the name or reputation of the school: Do they offer financial aid? Is it located in an area that has good job or internship opportunities? When was the program established?

As I dove back into full job search mode, I now had real experience and knowledge of international job search resources.  My graduate school internship at an international education non-profit turned into a full-time job, and I worked there for two years before returning to work with Peace Corps as a recruiter.

I don’t know what my next job will be or where it will take me.  However, I do know that I have the skills, experience, and passion – and the resources – to continue my work in international development.

RESOURCES FOR THE INTERNATIONAL JOB SEARCH:

Katrina Deutsch is currently the Peace Corps Recruiter for the Metro Boston Area. For more information on the Peace Corps, application process, and when Katrina will be at Northeastern, you can reach her at kdeutsch@peacecorps.gov. Learn more about Katrina’s Peace Corps experience here