An intern’s perspective of the Peace Corps’ first career fair at its new headquarters in Washington, D.C.
By Megan Dial
On Tuesday, June 27, I joined NPCA’s Advocacy Director Jonathan Pearson as well as advocacy interns Kalena Myers and Ava Smith at Peace Corps’ first in-person career fair at its new headquarters on First Street in Washington, D.C. The career fair was split into two conference rooms just beyond a spacious lobby that housed a memorial for Peace Corps Volunteers who’d passed during service over the 62 years of the agency. Inside the conference rooms, traffic was lively throughout the fair with attendees engaging with over fifty vendors. Most of the tables were run by fellow RPCVs offering information about job positions in various sectors ranging from governmental agencies, such as the Department of State, to nonprofits, such as FHI 360. The RPCVs in attendance were eager to forge new bonds over their shared experience in the Peace Corps and reconnect with old friends and colleagues.
“It was so exciting to meet Director Spahn and to hear firsthand about her time serving in Peace Corps. As someone who hopes to be a future Peace Corps Volunteer, the work [Spahn] has accomplished both during her service and after is truly inspiring, and I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with her and other Volunteers.”
— Kalena Myers, Summer Advocacy Intern
(Left to Right) NPCA’s 2023 summer interns Megan Dial, Kalena Myers, and Ava Smith.
I had the privilege of speaking to those who served before the millennium and others who had been evacuated due to the pandemic. Amid all the bustle, some were lucky enough to speak to Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn, including NPCA summer interns Kalena and Ava. “It was so exciting to meet Director Spahn and to hear firsthand about her time serving in Peace Corps,” said Kalena. “As someone who hopes to be a future Peace Corps Volunteer, the work [Spahn] has accomplished both during her service and after is truly inspiring, and I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with her and other Volunteers.” Kalena, Ava, and I took turns making rounds so we could speak to the other booths. Similar to Kalena, I hope to one day volunteer with Peace Corps, so speaking with countless former Volunteers as well as recruiters has certainly been one of my greatest highlights of this summer. Even tabling with NPCA during the fair was fun because I got to share what NPCA has been working on with a highly receptive audience that was interested in hearing about the career services resources NPCA offers, the ways they could help grow support of the Peace Corps Reauthorization bill, and upcoming events that would allow them to connect with fellow RPCVs — such as the Peace Corps Connect Conference coming up in September.
From my perspective, the event ended without any apparent hitch with many fruitful connections made possible by the tremendous work of the Peace Corps community and staff at headquarters. After the fair ended and the NPCA table was packed up, Jonathan took us interns over to the memorial to pay our respects to the more than 300 Volunteers named and honored, serving as a reminder that service is a sacrifice.
Megan Dial is a NPCA summer intern working with the communications team. She is a rising senior at the University of Arkansas, and she’s double majoring in political science & international and global studies.