I am confident I would have been more prepared for life after Peace Corps had my service not ended early. But since it did, and I have read very little about other RPCVs’ returns to a non-PC life, I have been thinking about all the things I have had to do and how some of them could have been done better if only I had known about them or read about them on someone else’s blog.
So, month 1, which is really a month and a half.
The first thing I did upon returning was reread all of the health insurance paperwork I received, sign up for insurance on Healthcare.gov, and pester PC staff about finalizing my 127-Cs. I tried scheduling appointments for the 127-Cs, which was difficult and took multiple days and offices for one and a month and a half for the second.
I also started my haphazard job search, which I am still trying to streamline (why isn’t there one website where every health department posts their jobs just like for newspapers?). Fortunately I had time for my resume to be reviewed and to sign up for USAJOBS before leaving eSwatini; otherwise, I would have needed to do those things first.
SHIFTT and other insurance info
SHIFTT is the insurance given to RPCVs for free for one month after service, and it can be purchased for two additional months. This insurance does not include enough benefits to count as meeting the insurance requirement of the Affordable Care Act. There is a $250 deductible that resets each month. Read more about SHIFTT here and here. The second link allows you to find providers, if you want to schedule appointments before returning to the US.
This plan, with a slightly different ID number and the same list of providers, is the insurance you will use for any 127-C forms you receive at your final medical appointment (or by email later). Everyone receives forms for three sessions with a PhD psychologist or psychiatrist. If anything else wasn’t completed before the end of your service that needs to be, you will also receive the 127-C forms for those.
I would not extend the SHIFTT insurance if you will be returning to the US without a job because you should be able to qualify for your state’s Medicaid, which will provide much better coverage. Fill out the Healthcare.gov website application within 60 days of your COS date and it will help you apply for Medicaid if you qualify. If you don’t qualify or want any of the other insurance options available at Healthcare.gov, you can extend SHIFTT before it expires.
If you know that you need medical appointments when you return to the US and you know the insurance you will be using, try to schedule appointments before your return. I was not able to, and I have been home for 45 days and still have not been able to see any providers for the 127-C forms I was issued. The wait time for some appointments has been lengthy.
DOS and resume
Doing a good job completing your Volunteer Report Form (VRF) during service will help you complete a good Description of Service (DOS) and a useful resume. The VRF serves as the tool that tracks what you have completed during your service, and you need to include many of those things in your DOS and resume. I would recommend updating your DOS and resume at least once a year so that it is as current as possible when you need to use it.
Fortunately, I had updated my DOS and resume when I finished my extension at PSI, so it was easy to update both and receive feedback on both before my service ended.
Are you interested in applying for a federal job? Then get your USAJOBS account set up and start filling in the resume builder. I spent about 10 hours on the website the day I signed up because I wanted to apply for a job that closed that day. I even had a resume filled with every position I have held as an adult that I was able to use to speed the process along. If you have to search for you previous job information and write job descriptions, expect your initial time on the website to be even longer. If you have a long work history, this step will take time, and you will thank yourself for doing it in advance of the jobs you want to apply for. You may need to tweek your resume for specific jobs, but that is much simpler when you already have a filled-in template. Also, don’t be like me and forget to email yourself a picture of the sheet of codes you will need for future logins to your account.
Stats for the month
Number of applications: 25 federal jobs and 19 NGO jobs
Number of unique cover letters: 3
Number of interviews: 4 for one position
Number of rejections: 1 (it came in January, but I know you were all dying to know)
I will focus next month’s learning points on job searching and interviews.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently at the end of your Peace Corps service? What have you learned in your job search?