Peace Corps points alumni toward federal jobs
By Karen Rutzick 11/28/06
Peace Corps officials are promoting their former volunteers as ready-
made civil servants.
Volunteers return to the United States from two-year stints as
teachers, technology workers, foresters and more, from locations as
far as Malawi, the Dominican Republic and Bolivia, looking for work.
They have a passion for public service and -- perhaps most
importantly -- a handy special status that allows agencies to quickly
hire them without the rigmarole required for filling most government
The Peace Corps is advancing this message this week during its first
career fair. About 50 alumni are at the fair, which is running until
Thursday at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington. Some traveled
from as far away as California, Michigan and Canada to fill the
Shriver conference rooms.
As the government kvetches over how to hire enough new workers to
replace the retiring baby boomers who likely will vacate more than
half of federal jobs over the next decade or so, returning Peace
Corps volunteers may be a place to start. Right now, only 40 out of
about 3,000 recent alumni of the volunteer program are in federal
service, according to Max Stier, president of the nonprofit
Partnership for Public Service. Stier spoke at the fair Tuesday.
"There are equally challenging but very different kinds of work where
you can make a difference," Stier said. "The opportunities are in the
The schedule is packed. The Peace Corps alumni will learn about
federal internships, graduate programs in public administration,
networking skills for federal jobs, using the USAJOBS.gov Web site
and the special language of federal job applications.
Also on the agenda are the details of Peace Corps alums' special
hiring status, which allows agencies to appoint them to federal jobs
within one year of their return to the United States without making
them compete with the general public.
The Transportation Security Administration and the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention are holding their own sessions, and
participants will have a chance to go to Government Accountability
In addition to TSA and CDC, the 16 agencies participating in the fair
include: the Securities and Exchange Commission, the International
Trade Administration, the U.S Agency for International Development,
the Homeland Security Department's Inspector General office and the
Still, even as the Peace Corps promoted public service to the alums,
they were warned that the complexity of the government could make
finding the right job difficult.
"It ain't gonna be easy," Stier said. "You might think 'I had my
Peace Corps experience, and I don't need [a challenge] again.' Sorry,
but that's life."
Stier pointed the attendees toward his organization's Web site,
www.makingthedifference.org, to begin the challenge.