From The Daily Iowan
Nicky Fish graduated from the University of Iowa this past spring — but has to wait almost a year to depart on her new journey with the Peace Corps.
Fish said one of the most difficult aspects of process was the application.
“It probably took me about two months to get through,” Fish said. “Honestly though, the hardest part is all the waiting. By the time I leave, it will have been a little over a year since I first applied, which is a pretty average timeline, but it is hard to work your life around.”
However, the Peace Corps has incorporated new changes into its application process this past summer, and it is now making it easier for individuals who are interested in joining the organization to apply.
Heather Mangan, a Peace Corps public-affairs specialist, said officials took an eight-hour application process and simplified it enough so an applicant can do it in one hour.
In addition, candidates can also choose the areas they would like to serve, as well as what job they would like to do.
“The process is a lot more transparent now,” Mangan said. “It tells you the exact dates — you know when to apply by, when you’ll know if you’ve been accepted, and when you would leave.”
Although the final application numbers for this year won’t be released until next month, Mangan said the Peace Corps has seen an increase across the country.
“We’ve already seen a spike in our application numbers, and we’re expecting to exceed pervious years’ application numbers,” Mangan said. “It’s kind of across the board; pretty much everybody in all of our regions has been pushing more numbers forward.”
There are 22 volunteers from the University of Iowa serving in the Peace Corps, and there have been 646 UI volunteers since the organization was formed in 1961.
Shira Kramer, Peace Corps press director, said the changes to the application process were necessary.
“The Peace Corps is modernizing its process to keep up with a rapidly changing world,” Kramer said. “We are revitalizing our recruitment and outreach to remain competitive and recruit the best and brightest our country has to offer.”
Kramer said the previous application process was costing the organization strong applicants who were thrown off by its lengthiness.
“We were also losing a lot of great candidates because of a less-than-ideal process, and we don’t want that anymore,” she said. “We want volunteering with the Peace Corps to be more accessible, and we don’t want applicants to be deterred by eight-hour-applications, massive uncertainty, and an endless selection process.”
Kramer said over the past decade, the Peace Corps has received an average of more than 12,000 applications per year, and more recently, the interest in volunteering has been growing.
“The response to our application reforms since our announcement this summer has been tremendous,” she said.
Fish said although the long application process can be demanding, she understands the logic behind it.
“It’s easy to get exhausted with all the steps, but I try not to forget that this is not your average job, and they need to make sure you’re prepared for what the next two years are going to bring,” she said.