This Chicken Didn’t Hatch

How silly my words look one week later. I called the Chicago office today to learn that I was not nominated.

Why was I so sure I would get nominated? At my interview, the interviewer said things like, “Next you’ll contact the regional recruiter for your nomination.” The recruiter’s emails said things like, “Please call me to discuss your nomination options.” I guess I read too much into these statements. There is also the conventional wisdom that it’s fairly basic to get nominated for the Peace Corps. But we are not in conventional times.

rejectionWhy was I not surprised? The economy sucks. Obama inspired people to serve. The Peace Corps is underfunded. Applications rose 16% last year. And, the one that is harder to swallow, I wasn’t a good enough candidate. I was competing against other people who don’t speak Spanish or French, which narrows my chances. I don’t have an advanced degree. I don’t have any recent service. I didn’t have amazing extracurriculars. While I do believe I would have been nominated under “normal” circumstances, the fact is that I didn’t get it, so I need to just figure out my next step.

I am going to be considered for Community Services nomination in the next two weeks. Since I am much better suited for Business Advising, and then IT (again, all non Spanish/French nominations are gone), I am a long shot. But I figured I might as well throw my name in the pile.

PC only does nominations once a quarter. So I will be up again for Business Advising in August for a July, August, or September 2010 departure. When I first started applying for Peace Corps, I kept hearing 9-12 month application cycle. I was thinking I might be heading out in September 2009. Waiting a full year later would be very hard, considering how much I want this opportunity right NOW. It may sound weird, but I would like to get going ASAP and be able to return to the US in my mid-twenties. Now I fear I won’t be getting back until I’m 27 or 28, which is very odd to think about. I know I shouldn’t worry about age like that, but for some reason it matters to me. Applying is turning out to be an 18 month ordeal rather than a 9 month journey. You do have to take a step back and ask yourself how bad you want it.

I still want it. I asked the recruiter about teaching English. I would need 30 hours of ESL (which I guess is equivalent to about 3 months). I need to do some research here. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be considered for nomination until I get the ESL done, even though I would have plenty of time to do it between nomination and placement. Again, it just pushes the timeline out.

So, I’m thinking I won’t make the Community Services cut. I’ll need to regroup and shoot for an August nomination. To make myself more competitive, I am considering taking French classes. If I take French 101 and 102, I will meet their requirements. While I would rather learn Spanish, their Spanish requirement is a 200 level (intermediate) understanding. There is a small chance I could get 2 French classes in this summer, but no chance to get that much Spanish done in such a short time.

I will also begin formulating a Plan B. While I still really want to get in to the Peace Corps, I need to be prepared with something else in case I keep getting pushed back or if I don’t get in. There will be a certain point where I’m not willing to wait forever.

Overall, I am not upset at all or anything (a tad bummed is all). I understand that not everyone gets nominated right now. I wish it would have happened, but far worse things have happened to far better people. Now I need to show them just how badly I want it.

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