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Peace Corps?

  1. Jul 23, 2010 #1
    I'm about to enter my freshman year of college, and naturally I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do after college. I'm going into chemical engineering, and I really want to work with environmentally friendly means of production. Ideally I'd like to work with the research aspect of this, designing engines, plants, or the like.

    I've been doing a lot of reading on developing countries, and I've decided I want to do some volunteer work. I'll try to do as many "alternative spring breaks" as possible, but I don't know if 1 week x 4 years will be all that I want. I've been looking into the Peace Corps too, and they offer work for volunteers in the environmental sector. They do education, development, and just planting trees too.

    I also want to become fluent in Spanish. I've only taken it in school (4 years) and am no where near fluent. I could easily survive in a Spanish-speaking area, but not be able to enjoy a normal conversation.

    Ultimately then, I'll probably end up going to grad school. Is the Peace Corps a good thing to do between undergrad and grad school? How would having a chemE degree and doing the peace corps open up job opportunities? (Note that that is no where near the main reason for me wanting to do a service project...just something that I'm going to consider.)

    Does anyone here have any experience with the Peace Corps or something similar?
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  3. Jul 23, 2010 #2
    In my REU we just got to sit down in front of a panel of 5 graduate admissions committee members. Someone brought up peace corps, and they unanimously said that it wouldn't hurt your grad school application. In fact, they said that it looks good and that you really look committed to what you want to do if you take a leave, like joining the peace corps, and still decide that you want to go back to school after the experience. With this being said, I'd say go for it! From what ive heard its a great experience and something that will be a defining couple of years of your life. Good luck! :)
  4. Jul 23, 2010 #3


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    With respect to graduate school their main interest is in your ability to be successful in the program and thus the most heavily weighted factors tend to be GPA, references, research experience, and publications.

    This kind of volunteer work could be relevant if for example you spend a summer developing a water treatment facility in a third would country and then apply to a graduate program where skills learned through that experience would be applicable to the research you want to do.

    Otherwise, from a graduate admissions point of view, it will likely be filed under: irrelevant.
  5. Jul 24, 2010 #4
    Interesting. I definitely want to do some sort of service between undergrad and grad school, I think. I plan on doing research/internships during undergrad too. Perhaps I'll look into other options...a year would be theideal length of time. I suppose I have a few years to figure out exactly what I'll do. :)
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