Six Months of Application

So this “timeline” is a thing. And I will come up with a reader’s digest version when I am not memorizing verbos y acronyms.

*This is only a timeline from application to my invitation (acceptance) – not the six months of preparation following the acceptance.*

April 7, 2017: Callie passed (my Mom’s dog who inherited me). This is significant because I think that’s what actually “allowed me” to consider applying for a 27-month position abroad.

April 10, 2017: Started online grad school: MS in Marketing. Feeling a strong calling to be of greater service in my work after volunteering with CCS in Peru (October-November 2016) and all the jobs require advanced degrees.

April 12, 2017: Receive email from friend & RPCV Jeff about two PC Peru Business Advisor positions. Now that I am down to one dog… maybe… hmmm.Inception email

April 19, 2017: Submitted Peace Corps application, resume, essay.

Instant response from auto-generated email accounts:

  • Medical Services requesting self-evaluation health history form (#1/3)
  • AutomationManager with my applicant number and a prompt to complete my health history form (#2/3)
  • Medical Services confirming my online medical portal registration and to start my health history form (#3/3)
  • Guess what. I then filled out my health history form. (It was 60 minutes of unchecking all the boxes. Evidently you start your self-evaluation as a decomposed corpse. Clever.)
  • 11:30am MST: “@noreply” approving me for service in “All Countries” per my complete health history form. Hashtag, fleeting validation:

    Medical Form Application Approval
    “Based on your health history and the medical support the Peace Corps can provide, you application can be considered for… All Countries.”

April 21, 2017: Email from a Real Human in DC.

Dear Jessica,
Thank you for submitting an application to become a Peace Corps Volunteer. I am writing to follow up on your Spanish language proficiency.
Applicants must meet a specific level of Spanish proficiency prior to receiving an invitation. To meet the minimum language qualifications, applicants must have completed college-level Elementary Spanish II within the past six years or finished four years of high school Spanish coursework within the past eight years. Given that your qualifications do not fall within those parameters, we are requesting documentation of your Spanish language ability.

Sidebar: The extent of my traditional Spanish learning was being the annoying “non-trad” student in the front row of my fifth grade classroom’s Spanish class in 2000. (I was their homeroom teacher and crashed their language class.)

CLEP and ACTFL Information
“The Business Advising Volunteer position in Peru requires you to complete the College Level Examination Program test…”

April 24, 2017: Phone call from the Real Human in DC:

  • “Let’s discuss your application vs. the Spanish test”
  • Let’s discuss how much testing costs to fail an exam
  • “Without any indication of how your resume stands in the applicant pool, I think it would be wise for you to take an exam and just see where you land.”
  • But the deadline for this job application is July 

April 24, 2017: Nab a final testing center slot at the local community college, Central Wyoming College (CWC) (earliest and only spot) on May 8th. I also purchased a study guide: CLEP® Spanish Language Book + Online (CLEP Test Preparation) (English and Spanish Edition) for $21.77 + $80.00 for exam.

Another sidebar: No amount of come-to-jesus studying (and during grad school and a full-time job) would allow me to pass this test. This specific position felt a long ways across the room from “off the table.”

May 8, 2017: I was the one in the college testing center with the circa 1990’s headset laughing out loud, under-boob sweating through my layers, because I did not understand a single word spoken. Including the damn Spanish test instructions. This placement exam was all aural! No pause button, no asking to slow down, no repeat, no non-verbal cues. No closed captions. No. Mercy.

Two and a half years hours later, final exam score: 53.


  • To pass Level One (equivalent of two college semesters) is 50.
  • For Level Two: 63.
  • The requirement to apply for the PCV was 50.
  • Insert emotional whiplash
  • Add a cup of flop sweat

May 9, 2017: Send my Peace Corps handler (aka a Real Human) my “passed” Spanish exam. @noreply sends:

Peace Corps is reviewing your application for the Business Advising Volunteer position in Peru departing March 12, 2018. You will be notified no later than September 1, 2017 with a decision regarding this application.

Um. Okay? That’s vague.

Response email from Real Human in DC inviting me to interview:

This language score does qualify you for Spanish speaking programs and I would like to move forward with scheduling an interview with you for the Business Advising Volunteer position in Peru.
  • Receive online scheduling interview poll (ALERT: the U.S. Government uses Doodle?!) for online video interview.
  • (Turns out “AS SOON AS POSSIBLE” was another two-plus weeks out.)

    Doodle Poll
    You can not-not make a comment when an agency of the US Government sends you a Doodle poll to schedule something.

May 15, 2017: More automated email reminders and notifications

  • @noreply: We mailed you fingerprints cards in the mail. Don’t use them unless you’re invited to serve and you accept.
  • @noreply: Your references have been contacted

May 19, 2017: @noreply: Your references are Peace Corps alumni and super hyper vigilant supportive friends / teammates and returned your said references faster than we could make a Doodle poll

May 22, 2017: Mock interview based on “Interview Tips” automated email

[I am starting to have a false sense of connection with @noreply]

Interview Tips
“I will ask you about… living or working with people from another culture; working in a challenging team dynamic; how you truly feel about answering platitudinal questions”

May 23, 2017: Skype Interview with Real Human, ~100 minutes

  • Guessing 300+ applicants for 16 positions = 5.34% chance acceptance
  • I tried. But I could not break the formal, scripted, sterile, poker-face dynamic.
  • The answer to most of my questions was “it would be covered in training”
  • Would not give me any references to interview returned volunteers from Business sector in Peru
  • Closing: “Look for an email between now an September 1 and you will have 3 calendar days to accept an invitation if offered.”

May 31, 2017: Receive a packet from Legal Services with finger printing instructions. To be sent AS SOON AS POSSIBLE (if offered a position.) Emailed Real Person, “Is this foreshadowing?” (Hopeful cute emoji also why are you wasting postage)

June 2, 2017: Response from handler:

The Peace Corps sends out legal kits to all candidates who are under consideration, thus receiving your legal kit is standard practice and does not indicate an impending invitation.

July 14, 2017: Friendly email to handler: “Just sending a email to say hello, and not-very-subtly reminding you how excited I am to be in the applicant pool for the Peru Business Advisor position.”

No response.

August 17, 2017: “Hello again! In our video call in May you said to look for an email anytime through September first.” Just checking in. Are you allowed to tell me where you are at in the selection process? Or if you have made offers yet for the first round of chosen applicants?”

No response.

August 23, 2017: Email response from Real Person:

Apologies for the late response as I was out last week and getting through my emails.  We are filling our last spots for this program and we have decided we would like to move forward in the consideration process and offer you an invitation to the program. You should be receiving the official invitation shortly. Please let me know if you have any questions.
“Congratulations! You have been selected to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer…as a Business Development Volunteer in Peru”

I took a deep breath, looked at my dog Cabot and cried a moment, and then accepted my invitation to PC Peru.


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