Skip to main content
US Flag An official website of the United States government

Connect with the Peace Corps

If you're ready for something bigger, we have a place where you belong.

Follow us

Apply to the Peace Corps

The application process begins by selecting a service model and finding an open position.

Peace Corps Volunteer
2 years, 3 months
Log in/check status
Peace Corps Response
Up to 12 months
Log in/check status
Virtual Service Pilot
3-6 months
Log in/check status

Let us help you find the right position.

If you are flexible in where you serve for the two-year Peace Corps Volunteer program, our experts can match you with a position and country based on your experience and preferences.

Serve where you’re needed most

Lynda A.

“I have found my assignment to be a great fit, putting to use my current skills while offering opportunities to continue to learn and grow.”

Lynda A headshot

1. What got you interested in the Peace Corps, specifically the Response program?

I served as a Youth Development Specialist in Peru from 2005-08. I had a positive experience in Peru, so when I was looking for options to take a sabbatical year to reflect, refresh, and reconnect, Peace Corps topped my list. I found several opportunities that connected with my interests and experience that would also allow me to continue to learn and grow personally and professionally. I was specifically looking for a Peace Corps Response (PCR) opportunity of about a year, because after 12 months of service, PCR Volunteers are eligible for noncompetitive eligibility with the Peace Corps and are also eligible to apply for Coverdell Fellowships. I am motivated by meaningful social impact work, so I’m considering pursuing fulltime work with the Peace Corps following my service.

2. What projects are you working on?

Together with my colleagues in the planning unit of a public institution dedicated to sports, recreation, and physical activity in Costa Rica, we have created a comprehensive staff development plan for improving management process quality. We designed and delivered training on process management, followed by individual coaching in more than 30 operational areas. We are strengthening organizational capacity to move beyond training delivery for staff to impacting institutional systems through planning and evaluation, and by linking training and coaching to improved strategic outcomes. We aspire to measure improved outcomes and impact through process evaluation and annual reporting, using existing resources and practices to ensure sustainability. This year, we plan to apply a similar approach and take an in-depth look at one operational process: project management.

Lynda co-facilitates a staff development workshop on process management in Costa Rica.
Lynda co-facilitates a staff development workshop on process management in Costa Rica.

3. How have you leveraged your previous professional experience and skills in your service?

Technical expertise is important, but I also bring past success doing similar work in standardizing processes and procedures so that dedicated professionals can do their jobs well. Anyone who works in organizational management can attest that the biggest part of the work is communication—managing people. Process is easy, change is not. I bring over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management both domestically and internationally, working with small teams to do big things with minimal resources. My first Peace Corps experience taught me that my way is not always the best way, so I start with a goal to listen, understand, and empathize before we get to work. The work itself is relatively easy if everyone is on the same team.

4. What is a highlight of your time in service so far?

Not to disparage other community partners, but my counterparts are the best. Peace Corps Response is quite different from traditional service, in that most of us live in a capital city, work a standard schedule, and go home in the evenings to our own apartments, rather than living with a host family and having an around-the-clock schedule. It takes effort not to fall into living a lifestyle similar to what we have in the U.S. while carrying out what could be considered a consultancy.

Here, it´s really important to connect with the people with whom we spend most of our time—our coworkers. My primary counterpart, Franklin, takes his role to help me integrate very seriously. From the first week he, along with his family and friends, have made intentional efforts to include me and other Volunteers in activities outside of work. Franklin is part of a larger culture of welcome I’ve found in the organization. The team has included me in game nights, daily lunch conversations, and special activities like a “Tico Thanksgiving” and holiday stocking and gift exchange. I feel 100 percent part of this team, and it’s a good one.

Siteseeing with Lynda's counterpart, Franklin.
Sightseeing in Costa Rica with Lynda's counterpart, Franklin, and his family.

5. What strategies have you used to meet the challenges of a PCR Volunteer experience?

If you’re looking for a traditional Peace Corps experience, Response is not it. PCR used to be open exclusively to Returned Volunteers who had extensive experience in foreign language acquisition and cultural adaptation, in addition to technical skills. Now that PCR is open to a broader pool of professionals, there is a wonderful opportunity to attract people with even more diverse backgrounds and experience. However, the expectation of language ability and the ability to integrate is still there, just without the same level of training and support. PCR Volunteers are treated as seasoned, adaptable professionals, because that’s what we are. The orientation for a two-year Volunteer is three months of intensive language and cultural integration activities; for a PCRV that orientation is around five days.

In my case, not only am I an RPCV from the two-year program, I also worked for over eight years at an international nonprofit, so I have experience adapting to and integrating with teams all over the Latin America and Caribbean region, as well as other teams around the globe. I was able to arrive and work at a professional level in the local language of business (Spanish) from the first day. I had to adapt to local ways of speaking. We have had lots of laughs about my funny Spanish from the highlands of Peru compared to the Tico way of speaking. This preparation combined with the welcome of my assigned team have made my service successful.

6. How will the skills you’re developing help you in the future?

I have found my assignment to be a great fit, putting to use my current skills while offering opportunities to continue to learn and grow. In this role, I am gaining more experience and refining my existing skills in process management and evaluation, and the connection to strategy, learning, and development. I am building on extensive training design, development, delivery, and evaluation skills in this organizational context, and collaborating with coworkers whose analysis of organizational dynamics have been critical to success. I have had the opportunity to develop new skills in public policy analysis and implementation and will continue to develop skills on gender integration within the organization. I appreciate the opportunity to be challenged to grow and learn. All of these skills will be valuable as I continue my career in public sector or nonprofit leadership.

A view from the National Stadium, where Lynda works, along with coworkers Adriana and Franklin, and Response Program Manager Adrián.
A view from the National Stadium, where Lynda works, along with coworkers Adriana and Franklin, and Response Program Manager Adrián.

7. What would you say to someone considering Peace Corps Response?

Regarding skills and training, reflect on where your interests, abilities, and the needs of the program partners intersect. Then, check your mochila or life toolkit for the things you know you’ll need to be successful. For example, if you aren’t professionally fluent to the point of being able to deliver professional presentations or facilitate meetings in the target language, consider an opportunity that will allow you to work in English or at a lower level of the target language. You may not have the opportunity to receive a language assessment prior to arriving in country (I didn’t), and language training is not offered to Response Volunteers, so set yourself up for success.

Consider your living situation and budget. If you choose to apply for an opportunity that has a hybrid or even fully remote work environment, have a plan for how you’ll integrate in the community and guard against isolation. Some Response Volunteers participate in classes or other activities, but they pay for them largely from their own personal funds. In my case, I knew that a remote work environment, especially while living alone, would not work for me. My Costa Rican coworkers have alternating schedules, each working at the office three days per week, so someone is always there to collaborate with or just talk to. Some live as far as two hours away by bus. I go every day and, in order to facilitate this, I live closer to the office than most. This means I pay for a pricey studio apartment that requires me to be hyper conscious of my budget to live within the Peace Corps allowance. The Peace Corps living allowance is a tight fit for a capital city environment. I manage, but I cook budget-friendly meals from local recipes, pack my lunch every day, and do not shop—for anything. I am careful about how often I go out to eat, prioritizing opportunities to connect with local friends. I cover vacation travel from my own personal savings; the Peace Corps living allowance won’t cover it, even for the most frugal among us.