02 December 2010

A big week

Amanda and I have been basically writing applications since July to fill in the gaping hole in our post graduation plans and it seems things are coming together.  

Yesterday I submitted the first of seven PhD applications and began the long committee process that that entails.  Most of these applications are due in December/January and are decided in March or so.  Now, I"m not only applying for admission which is difficult in itself, but also for a teaching or research assistantship which would provide a small stipend and cover tuition.  If accepted, I would begin in August 2011 and it would probably take 4-6 years.

On the other front, we received a cryptic message from the Peace Corps this morning saying our application status had changed.  What does this mean?  Have we been rejected? Well we looked up our status and we've been nominated!  Unfortunately it doesn't say where to, but we expect our recruiter will contact us soon with the geographic region. From there we can look up which countries in the region have the programs that we have experience in and make some educated guesses from there.  If accepted, we'll receive our invitation in June 2011, probably and leave in August or September 2011.  This brings up two possible conflicts.  First, we would likely extend my three-year absence from US-based birthday parties, I haven't been in the United States for my birthday since 2007!  Secondly, and slightly more importantly, we have the possibility of being accepted to both Peace Corps and PhD programs, in this situation we'll judge our options and offers to make a decision.  I think we can't go wrong with either one, so it'll be a welcome conflict.  

A major theme of my life since late July has been applications to jobs for the time between then and August 2011, it's a difficult stretch because most jobs require a year contract and some expect longer term contracts. I've been finding jobs on Idealist.org and SustainableFoodJobs.wordpress.com and yesterday I was offered a position with a prominent NGO in Cambridge!  The organization does research on the social impact and economic efficiency of non-profits and provides recommendations for donors.  I will be serving as a research fellow and contribute to their research and writing of final reports.  Best of all, the postion starts in January and lasts through July, just before August! 

As I said, things are taking shape and we're excited to see our next two years come into focus.  I'm especially happy to be offered the job in Cambridge!  It should be good for my resume and most importantly it seems like a job that I'll enjoy and that will challenge me.  

More news to come once we get word from our Peace Corps recruiter.   


  1. Congrats on all of the opportunities that you are lining up.
    As for your possible choice between PC and a post-grad program, you might have another option. I do not know where you are applying, but I had a similar experience when I was accepted for my doctoral studies at Temple University. Simultaneous with my acceptance at Temple, I had an opportunity to live on a farm in the South of France. Temple University agreed to "hold" my post-grad seat for a year. Upon my return from France, I entered my post-grad program without any difficulty. Perhaps you can achieve a similar option and thereby serve in the Peace Corps knowing that you have solid plans upon your repatriation to the States.
    Good luck in all that you pursue!

  2. Thanks for commenting Lew,

    That's a great suggestion. We've been wondering if something like that was possibles so it's nice to hear you've done it. Do you think the long duration of Peace Corps would be a problem, would you expect a committee to hold a seat for two years? If so, that would really be a perfect situation.

    I'm applying to Rugters, UNC at Chapel Hill, University of California at Santa Cruz, Wisconsin at Madison, Wisconsin at Milwaukee, University of Arizona and Cardiff University (Wales); mostly for anthropology programs, but some are sociology.

    Thanks for the advice and thanks for reading,

  3. Okay, you are certainly going about this quite well.
    My experience with my doctoral program at Temple was limited to me requesting that they hold my seat for a year. I shouldn't guess about asking for two years. Perhaps you could just float the idea with your contacts at each school.
    However, if you do ask and they deny or resist, perhaps you could then negotiate for a 'preferred' status when you reapply.
    Nothing ventured - nothing gained,eh?
    You have chosen a great selection of schools, so if any of them take your bait, your decision will become obvious and you will do well.
    BTW - I did my graduate work at UNC-CH and I couldn't speak too highly of that school (not to mention that the geographic region is fantastic).

    Good luck!

  4. Great advice again, thanks!

    Even if I have to re-apply after Peace Corps with preference, I should be more qualified after volunteering, right? I think doing both PC and PhD would be tremendous, I wouldn't start teaching for awhile, but I'm sure it would be worth it.

    I've been to Chapel Hill for just a couple days for a conference and I loved the town too, my only problem was the omnipresence of Tar Heel blue. I'd have to get used to that!

    Thanks again Lew!

  5. The PC experience on your resume will be very supportive of your academic goal. When I was at UNC-CH I met several RPCVs and I learned that they had a definite advantage in their applications to graduate school.

    If you have bee there, you understand why the Tar Heels say that the sky is blue - - - God is a Tar Heel(!).

    I grew to love that (patented) "Carolina Blue" and I now spot it in all sorts of locations.

    I liked that area so much that I actually moved back to the Research Triangle area from the Pocono Mountains 30 years after getting my master's degree at UNC-CH. I was there less than a year when our economy began to sour. Alas, I had to accept a position in Philadelphia to continue my career.
    What a culture shock.
    So it goes.
    That gave me just one more reason to re-kindle my desire to pursue the Peace Corps.

    I hope that you hear from PC soon.
    Perhaps our paths will cross sometime.

  6. Great, a lot of people in anthropology seem to be RPCVs too so I think it's a relatively common career path.

    I suppose there's no other choice than to love Carolina Blue if you're in Chapel Hill, right? Whether it's voluntary or as a survival mechanism.

    I certainly hope we do cross paths, maybe in Chapel Hill if you find your way back.