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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Is 'PC-speak' quantifiable?

The process of applying to the Peace Corps establishes quite an interesting relationship between the applicant and the organization. On the one hand, the organization expects prompt and precise information from the applicant while on the other hand, the organization expects that the applicant will accept occasional pieces of general information and will exhibit boundless patience waiting for the occasional word about the details of a more than two year committment by the applicant. Even the time line for the application process is described by the organization in vague terms and inconsistently in different publications ('6 to 9 months' in some publications, and '9 months to a year' in others).

When a PC Placement Assessment Assistant informs you that you can expect to hear from a Placement Officer "within several weeks, if not sooner" is there a specific number of weeks beyond which it is no longer "within several"?

If another PC Placement Assessessment Assistant informs you that you should expect to hear from a Placement Officer "within a few weeks" is there a specific number beyond which it is no loger within "a few"?

I have received both of the reassurances mentioned above. The first was in the first week of December (16 weeks ago). The second was in the beginning of this month (4 weeks ago).

While it might be possible to claim that 4 weeks is close to "within a few weeks", it seems to be beyond any stretch to imagine that 16 weeks could be considered to be within "several weeks."

In a posting on March 4th, I mentioned:

So, I have been following the PCJs and re-reading some PC material yet again and this time I have been reading with more focus. TODAY, I noticed on the last page of the (latest) PC catalog a significant sentence within the paragraph under the heading "Placement". It states,

"If you do not hear from your placement officer and your departure month is less than eight weeks away, contact your recruiter for your placement officer's phone number."

Subsequent to that posting, I wrote to my recruiter who gave me an e-mail address for the CYD Placement Office. An e-mail to that office resulted an a prompt response stating I should expect to hear from a Placement Officer, who "should be in touch with you within the next few weeks with more specific programmatic information to discuss with you. Thank you for your patience, I see you have been waiting for a while; we are certainly doing our best to place you as soon as we can."

Since tomorrow is the end of 4 weeks since my previous e-mail to the CYD Placement Office, I am pondering whether to write again, or whether I should contact my recruiter and again request a phone number for a Placement Officer, as suggested in the PC publication referrenced above.

Something that has caused me additional concern is that I have now gone well past my original nomination departure date and have no idea of any revised departure date for the future. It took the PC 159 days from the time they received my complete medical packet (and PC complimented me for it being so complete and well organized) yet it took PC 159 days from receipt of the packet to issue me clearance for placement. It appears that those 159 days took me past the threshold of the Placement Office being able to place me with regard to my nominated departure date. I am wondering whether I should ask my Recruiter about a new departure date, or should I pose that question to the CYD Placement Office?

It has been just a little more than 11 months since I submitted my application, a little more than 9 months since the PC OMS Office received my complete Medical/Dental/Vision Packet, and 4 months since I have received complete medical clearance. Is it reasonable to expect to at least have a (new) tentative departure date?


  1. YES! I would certainly say so. Or at least an explanation about why it has taken so long to place you. Perhaps funding related program reductions or an increase in applicants or something. The medical process held up my departure date but my placement officer was pretty good about keeping me informed about possible nominations and ultimately an invite. I suggest calling every 2-3 weeks for an update until they tell you to stop calling or give a time frame to call back in. Best of luck to you!


  2. Thanks Heidi!
    I appreciate your thoughts and the sharing of your experience.
    I have written to the second, and most recent, Placement Assessment Assistant.

  3. PS My grandmother taught me that 'several' and 'few' mean two. So that's how I quantify those words. Oh PC and their love of being vague.

  4. Everyone should respect their grandmother, for grandmothers are so very wise!
    (My grandmother taught me that 'few' meant two and 'several' meant three)

  5. I think that you should contact everybody you can think of that might be able to help. Email your original recruiter and the actual placement office. When I have medical questions I always shoot off an email to the preservice unit AND leave my med nurse a voicemail. Usually one of them gets back to me.

    PS: I LOVE your "total time since submitting my application" widget!!

  6. Oh, Melissa, my original recruiter has been only marginally helpful. I wrote to the (second) Placement Assessment Assistant first thing this morning and she sent me an e-mail this morning informing me that a Placement Specialist would call me in the afternoon. Also, my med nurse reviewer actually attempted to call me today, but I missed her call.

    BUT, the most promising happening was that a Placement Specialist actually did attempt to call me today. My cell phone is several years old and in the throes of a slow death. It did not give me a ring tone for either call. I justhecked my phone at one point and saw a missed call from the med nurse AND a voice mail from the Placement Specialist.

    When I attempted to to my med nurse reviewer, I received a message that her number was no longer in service (?). When I attemted to call the Placement Specialist, I received a message that he was unavailable. I was able to leave a voice mail for him, but it was 4PM by then and I suppose the offices in Washington were clearing out for the weekend by that time.

    I will post any news next week.

    BTW, I am glad that you liked the "Total time" widget. You can get one by clicking on the tab at the bottom of mine.

    Thanks for your encouragement. I also appreciate all of the great information that you post on your blog. I am still sending a lot of positive thought energy toward your medical deferral appeal.

  7. Oh Lew, you are so much more patient than I think I could ever be. :x
    I would absolutely say that this was an adequate amount of time to expect some idea of a new departure date. Have they mentioned anything that might be holding up your placement?

  8. Thanks for your supportive words. A little reinforcement always helps.
    I have had recent contact(s) and will post the details soon. I've gotta go to meet up with family right now and visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This should get my mind off PC for at least a little while (!).