Life After Peace Corps

The first month after I finished my service, I would have told you “there is no life after Peace Corps! It’s all over. Your life no longer has meaning! Stay in country, never come home!” My readjustment is moving along though and while I miss the purpose Peace Corps gave me, I have taken to heart all the lessons I’ve learned. Two years seems like a dream now. Just yesterday, I was telling the story of my sunburn scar. I could vividly remember my host family hunting me down to rub Vicks all over my legs. My scar is in the shape of Antarctica, by the way. But my life moves on. So what exactly have I been doing since I got home? Well…

I’ve visited friends and family.

I had two job interviews. One interview was in person, the other over the phone. Both were for jobs in DC. I got both interviews through the Peace Corps advantage – Non-Competitive Eligibility. I didn’t get either one, but it’s okay, because….drum roll please…

I passed the Foreign Service Oral Assessment!

I’ve dreamed of being a Foreign Service Officer since I was 16. My mom got me the book Inside an Embassy when I was young. I remember reading the vignettes late at night dreaming about becoming a diplomat.

I took the Oral Assessment in January and passed with a score of 5.7 out of 7. A score of 6 is pretty much the current ceiling, so I was very happy to get a 5.7. I studied for four months leading up to the test. I practiced interview questions, did timed case management exercises, and did six group exercise sessions over Hangouts. I was 100% dedicated to passing this assessment. Why? Because this is what I want to do with my life. This isn’t a job. I’ve always wanted a career. I used to look at Office Depot catalogs as a kid and day-dream about having a corner office after working for 30 years at the same place. That was me. Some things never change. So what’s next?

I need to pass a medical clearance (thankfully it isn’t as rigorous as the Peace Corps one) and obtain a security clearance. The latter is going to take some time, since I’ve lived overseas. In the meantime, I’m going back to work for my previous employer. I couldn’t be more excited to return. I don’t have to hide my intentions, everyone knows exactly what’s going on. I get to work with my friends. And I get to live with another friend. I’ll be back in the city I adore. I really couldn’t be more grateful to the agency for bringing me back for a bit.

So for every bad moment I had in Peace Corps, I can now feel it dissolving. Everything balances out in the end. I’m sure I’ll have a different set of problems to deal with working as a Foreign Service Officer, but Peace Corps gave me the tools for tackling anything that comes my way. So yes, there is life after Peace Corps. Just give it time to work itself out.

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5 thoughts on “Life After Peace Corps

  1. This is exactly the kind of post I wanted to see right now. In late June I’m leaving for PC in Ethiopia, and I recently discovered the process for becoming a FSO. It’s something that really interests me.
    Did you take the FSOT after you were already home? I heard some PCVs do it while still in service, and I’d like to be able to do that to speed up the process.
    Also, once you moved on to the Oral Assessment, did they send you study materials?
    Sorry for all the questions, but I’m excited to find someone going through the process right now!

    • I did take the FSOT while in country. I finished my service in November 2013 and took the FSOT in June of 2013. I thought it was the perfect spacing, it also ensured that I wouldn’t have to end my service early to fly back to take the oral assessment. I took the orals about 2.5 months after coming home. I gave myself plenty of time to study! You can also apply as earlier as you want and I have heard they will defer you for 2 years because of Peace Corps service. I’d recommend taking the test in your first year that way if you don’t do so well, you can retake it and still be on track in your second year.

      I did not receive any study materials from the State Department. I found various materials online through the amazing FSO Yahoo groups:
      Foreign Service Written Exam
      Oral Assessment

      It’s everything you need to succeed!

  2. This post made me very happy to read! I am heading to Jordan for PC service soon and am really wanting to go into FS after the fact. My uncle was an FSO and I have always wanted to join – inspired by his tales! Good luck to you!

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