Rumor has it times are hard and finding ways to set yourself above the other prospective job-seekers in a competitive workforce is rough these days. May I make a completely unbiased life choice suggestion? Try Peace Corps! If you can survive 27 months of isolation, culture-shock and interesting diet options, you will find yourself jumping to the front of the line for interviews and graduate school invitations. Here are 5 reasons why Peace Corps volunteers make the best employees.
- They are pros at working with people of different worldviews and values.
Volunteers learn quickly that they are not just working with people of different ethnicities; but who see the world differently and value different things. It is their primary assignment to empower your community without stripping away the culture’s sacred beliefs. You spend 2 years living with other ethnicities, learning the language and the value system. You learn not only how different cultures talk but also how they think and you make it your goal to help them develop and grow without making them American. After 2 intense years of Peace Corps, moving into a Western market filled with people of diverse values and beliefs is a relatively smooth transition. Instead of approaching challenges with your personal mindset, you are able to take the time to understand everyone involved and partner together to reach the company’s goals and deadlines.
- You will see America from a global perspective.
For anyone that has lived abroad for a significant amount of time, there is an inevitable shifting of viewpoints towards the host country’s perspective. During the course of my service I began forming and changing opinions on America that mirrored my host country’s perspectives in many ways because I started to see the effects of my country’s choices on other countries. Since returning, I and other volunteers carry this global perspective and continue to examine all economical and political actions in light of their impact on the world. Whereas the average employee may come into a meeting with a more egocentric opinion that primarily focuses on other Americans impacted, Peace Corps volunteers bring the voices of developing countries and struggling minorities with them which allows for more informed actions on global issues and development.
- You will become capable of leading projects and people.
Though every Peace Corps volunteer has a unique assignment, in every post across the world, volunteers find themselves in charge of developing communities with little support and resources. Communities often look to the volunteer to solve problems and run the projects they are unequipped to but desperately need. In order to be successful, volunteers learn quickly how to structure a project, engage the community and manage each step of the project while simultaneously training nationals in the community to make the project sustainable in future years. From a Western situation with many qualified team members, resources and structure, having a Peace Corps volunteer who has spent the last few years running projects on almost nothing makes having a volunteer on board a huge asset for the company. Peace Corps volunteers are capable of leading multifaceted and complex projects and confidently supporting the teams in a holistic way.
- You will know the secret; it’s all about community.
Peace Corps has a unique approach to working abroad that few other organizations have. From day one of training, success is all about the community and local empowerment. The goal of each project is to empower locals to eventually take over the project and keep growth and development sustainable. Volunteers spend their 2 years of service literally working themselves out of a job as they create, mentor and eventually pass on leadership to others. A returned volunteer in the workplace carries over this idea of community and seeks to support all coworkers to improve the overall environment regardless of job descriptions or roles. Volunteers go beyond basic job descriptions and roles to ensure that everyone is supported and the project is successful.
- You will come away with a global network base.
In an ever-increasing global world, Peace Corps volunteers bring a plethora of contacts from Australia to England that can be reached in a moment’s notice to bring insight and support. While serving in the Balkans I worked on a project with a girl from Latvia who was working in London, a journalist from Poland studying in Scotland and a girl working with the United Nations from Croatia. We spent time working and planning as well as forming a solid support system. I proofread papers for them and they connected me to a conference in Morocco. The people volunteers work with form a strong bond that continues on even when the project ends. An employee who personally knows individuals working with UNICEF or foreign embassies can bring a new level of competition and networking for the organizations that employ them.