Applying to be a Jesuit Volunteer

Who can be a Jesuit Volunteer?

The Jesuit Volunteer Corps welcomes women and men regardless of culture, economic status, ethnic origin, gender, physical challenge, or sexual orientation. Applicants should be between 21 and 35 years of age and have a college degree or applicable work experience. JVs are committed to community, social justice, simple living, and spirituality. A JVC year is a bounty of new experiences, so faith, flexibility, and a sense of humor are essential.

INTERNATIONAL: There may be medical issues that could prevent an applicant from eligibility to participate in the program, due to our program’s ability to support and sustain a JV in countries that may have limited resources. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen in order to apply for the international program. As in the domestic program, faith, flexibility, and a sense of humor are essential, in addition to a strong willingness, desire, and intentionality with which to commit to the values in the context of another country and culture.

What are the chances of acceptance into JVC?

DOMESTIC: The chances of getting in to JVC’s domestic program are great, if you meet the basic qualifications and are flexible about where you will go and how you will serve. Placement at any one particular position cannot be guaranteed. We suggest you finalize your application as early as possible. In the domestic program, the agency ultimately chooses the best qualified applicant for that particular job.

Each application is screened to make sure the applicant is well motivated, emotionally mature, and understands the expectations and commitments of the program.

Review our application process to learn more.

INTERNATIONAL: In the international program, there are anywhere 25 to 30 placements available, from year to year. Placement at any one particular position cannot be guaranteed. Because of the smaller number of placements and high number of qualified applicants, the chances of acceptance are more difficult than in the domestic program. That said, applicants are still encouraged to apply and be open to placement in one of the countries where JVs currently work.

Staff seeks the best candidate for each job and community, striving to find a person who will serve as a natural fit. We invite applicants who are not placed internationally to consider applying for the domestic program. Review our application process to learn more.

What should I think about before applying?

It’s important to reflect and discern your true motivation for wanting to join JVC.

Apply to JVC if your central motivation is to live JVC’s values—spirituality, simple living, community, and social justice—and work toward a more just society for all people. Consider how living in solidarity with those on the margins of society might open you to new growth and challenges that will have a lasting effect on the rest of your life.

JVC is not a good choice for you if you’re applying primarily because you don’t have other plans after college, can’t find a job, or want to improve your resume. Full-time service is an immersive experience. If you tell yourself you can shorten your commitment when things get too difficult, you may never open your heart to the lessons you will learn about the world and about yourself.

Are married couples permitted to be JVs?

No. Married couples are not permitted into JVC. Experience tells us that additional challenges can be present for a married couple, which must nourish its own relationship while also fully participating in relationship with the JV community.

Does JVC need applicants with special skills or credentials?

Special talents are always welcomed, such as a particular skill in art, music, dance, photography, etc.

DOMESTIC: There are some positions that require special skills or credentials such as: teaching certification, Spanish competency, and legal or nursing credentials. If you have any of these or other certifications, credentials, or proficiencies, be sure to include those details in your application.

INTERNATIONAL: Spanish proficiency or fluency is required for some placements. Other placements will require language acquisition—in some cases, study—during the two-year term, but English speakers are able to function in many situations. A degree in education can be helpful in a teaching position, but it’s not required.

Do I need to fill out two applications if I'd like to be considered for international and domestic placements?

No. JVC will accept one application. If you are interested in both the international and domestic program, apply to the international program. Should you not be offered placement with the international program, you may be eligible to transfer your application to the domestic process for consideration within the timeframe of the second round of domestic placement. Applicants in the international screening process may select to have their application transferred to the domestic process at any time.

Does JVC consider applicants from outside of the U.S.?

DOMESTIC: Because of the challenges inherent in JVC’s program, we do not encourage applications from people who may have the additional task of adjusting to the English language or American culture that is operative in most domestic placement sites and JV communities.

We recognize the special relationship between the U.S. and its geographic neighbor, and we welcome inquires from Canadian nationals who speak sufficient English to function well in both a professional and community setting, and who have the appropriate immigration status to sustain a year-long volunteer experience in the U.S.

Applicants from countries other than Canada must meet the above requirements, and must also have been living in the U.S. for at least six months. All appropriate legal documents (visa, green card, etc.) must be obtained at an early stage of the application/screening process before the applicant is matched with a placement.

INTERNATIONAL: The international program is unlikely to consider non U.S. citizens because of current program resources. If you are interested in applying for the international program, you should contact the international program staff directly and determine if there are other considerations besides those listed here.

Financial Issues

What are the financial arrangements during the term of service?

DOMESTIC: JVs are responsible for their own travel expenses to their orientation site. We provide travel from the orientation site to the city where the volunteer will work and transportation to and from retreats during the year.

Placement site (where JVs work) cover costs for housing, utilities, a food stipend, transportation to and from work (could be a bus pass or a bicycle), and transportation home at the end of the year. We also provide health insurance coverage to all JVs.

In addition, JVs receive a small personal stipend, to use at their own discretion. While participating in JVC, your basic needs are covered and you should not have reason to spend personal funds.

INTERNATIONAL: JVs serving internationally are asked to cover the costs of transportation to and—if not departing immediately for their host countries—from orientation. We cover the cost of airline travel to the country and city of placement. In collaboration with the placement agencies and Jesuit partners, we cover the costs for housing, utilities, a food budget, transportation to and from work (could be a bus, bicycle, or walking distance), and transportation home at the end of the year. We cover retreat expenses, including room and board, and provide health insurance coverage to all JVs.

In addition, JVs receive a small personal stipend, to use at their own discretion. While participating in JVC, your basic needs are covered and you should not have reason to spend personal funds.

Please note that JVC only pays return airline travel expenses for JVs who successfully complete their two years of service or are unable to complete their term of service for medical reasons incurred while serving in the host country.

Is it a requirement to fundraise prior to beginning JVC?

Yes. Jesuit Volunteer Corps is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and we rely on donations to help support of our program, and ultimately the current and future JVs. New JVs join the wide network of current and former JVs, Jesuits, donors, and friends who generously give of their talents and treasures to sustain JVC’s program and are expected to undertake fundraising prior to orientation.

Acceptance is not conditional on fundraising. No fundraising commitments are expected until after acceptance into the program. We provide JVs with ideas and encouragement to aid their success.

DOMESTIC and INTERNATIONAL: Domestic JVs are required to set a minimum goal of $600 and reach out to their personal networks including friends, family, parish communities, etc.

INTERNATIONAL: International JVs are expected to undertake fundraising prior to departing for their host countries. International JVs are required to set a minimum goal of $3,000 and reach out to their personal networks including friends, family, parish communities, etc.

Will I have health insurance in JVC?

Jesuit volunteers placed internationally and domestically receive basic health insurance coverage during their year of service. With certain restrictions and annual limits, most co-pay and deductible costs are also reimbursed. Details of the plan will be provided before the year of service begins. Anyone with a pre-existing condition or particular medical concerns may contact the JVC office for further information.

How do I handle my college loans?

DOMESTIC: Forbearance and deferment are available for most federally guaranteed student loans. Check with your lending institution to confirm eligibility and obtain the appropriate forms, which must be completed by you and JVC staff. If you are having difficulties with your lender, contact your program coordinator.

INTERNATIONAL: We provide a letter for international JVs to authenticate that they live under minimum wage.

To learn more about college loans click here

Working as a Jesuit Volunteer

What will my work schedule be? Will I have vacation time?

DOMESTIC: JVs follow the vacation policies of their placement agencies, which includes at least two weeks plus holidays. JVC retreats and workshops are not counted as vacation time. Work schedules depend on the job description; most follow a 40-hour week with weekends off. Some jobs require evening, overnight, and weekend work.

If you are accepted into the program, you will have an opportunity to speak with up to three placement sites about their respective positions. Be sure to ask these questions during your interviews for specifics.

INTERNATIONAL: International JVs may have some days off which are holidays of the host country, and may or may not have a correlating date with a U.S. holiday. Work schedules in the international realm typically include an early morning start (7am to 8am) and a full day’s work. Many JVs assist their placement sites or the local parish with programs on the side that may not be included in the original job description.

Also, because of the variance in school years and semester breaks over the two-year period, JVs serve at secondary placements when breaks in the host country’s school calendar are longer than two weeks. We work with the JVs to ensure a mutually beneficial secondary job placement for this time period.

What might happen if I don't like my job?

Challenges arise in all jobs, and JV placements are no exception. We work hard to select partner organizations that need and would benefit from having a JV. We encourage you to make the absolute best of any job placement and the inevitable rough patches that will come along. After all, you learn more from your challenges than your easy successes.

In rare cases of a poor fit, we work with the JV to address job issues with the placement site.

DOMESTIC: If you still decide to leave your placement in the U.S., you will be expected to find a new placement within the city where you’re living, with the assistance of the JVC staff.

INTERNATIONAL: Internationally, you must work with the in-country support and the JVC staff to discern leaving or transferring a job and explore all alternatives before considering leaving a placement.

I have always lived with roommates, how is living in community different than that?

In an JV community, you will live with other JVs, men and women, who will be part of your support structure, as you’re all in a place far from home. JVs may share bedrooms, but in some cases have their own rooms. Everyone cooks and cleans… or learns how.

As a community, you agree on regular times to be together as community, discuss how to make decisions and resolve conflict, agree on community meal times, and divide household responsibilities. All JVs are responsible to each other as members of the same community. Regular community meetings help keep communications channels open and expectations clear.

In addition to the community nights, JVs commit to weekly spirituality nights, which is a chance to foster friendships and grow in faith together.

DOMESTIC: In a domestic JV community, you will live with three to seven other JVs, men and women. Most JVs within the same community work at different placement agencies in the same city. You decide together how to handle household finances based on the stipends provided to you.

INTERNATIONAL: In the international setting, communities range from two to seven. (Communities of two are a rare case, and typically only occur when we’re opening or phasing out of a site.)

JVs may or may not all work at the same agency. Household finances are largely guided by the budget produced by the JVC office, however JVs are encouraged to discuss their stipend expenses with one another. Communities also commit to four or five weekly meals together.

Our model for community borrows largely from the comunidades de base model in Latin America. These communities come together to reflect on the Gospel in light of difficult circumstances. Moving from their experience, and coming together in prayer, the base communities then determine an action step. We hope to work in a similar manner.

Can I arrange to do JVC with a partner, friend, or roommate?

Each applicant applies to JVC as an individual and is considered for placement as such. Sometimes, by coincidence, two people who know each other are placed in the same community, but this would only occur by chance.

How simply will I be living? What is the JVC lifestyle like?

One of the core tenants of JVC is simple living. JVs live on a modest budget, but basic needs are met. We ask that you’d limit spending to the amount of your stipends. JVs may not work for pay outside of JVC.

Be mindful of living in solidarity with the people of your neighborhood. You may be living in a lower-income community where the people do not have the finances readily available to purchase new laptops, cameras, MP3 plays, or other electronics. Though you are permitted to bring some of these items with you, you do not want your possessions to burden your experience or prevent others in your community or neighborhood from knowing you for who you are. (See Should I bring my cell phone, laptop, or other personal electronic devices?)

INTERNATIONAL: Many of the conveniences that you may be accustomed to having in the U.S. are not as readily available in other countries. For example, some JVs may wash clothes by hand. Others may take bucket showers, or fewer showers.

Without some of these same conveniences, JVs find more time to reconnect with others. Writing letters instead of sending email or sharing a meal versus a night out are some of the most valuable parts of simple living.

Should I bring my cell phone, laptop, or other personal electronic devices?

DOMESTIC: JVC is about balance and choosing to live simply. Many JVs find that when used in moderation, electronic devices can be helpful to them in communication, finding spirituality resources, or staying in touch with the issues of injustice in our world.

It’s important to note that these devices can distract you from focusing on personal relationships and building community with other JVs. Portable electronics can also prevent you from living in solidarity with the people who seek to serve. We encourage you to reflect and discern about what you bring and why you wish to bring it.

INTERNATIONAL: In the countries where JVs work overseas, personal electronic devices are most often symbols of wealth and can hamper your solidarity with the people of your host community. These items are also at higher risk of being stolen, or causing break-ins.

JVs serving internationally should not bring cell phones, but cameras and laptops are permitted. If you are considering bringing personal electronics, we ask that you recognize a high chance of theft or damage from travel or weather.

What do JVs do for fun?

DOMESTIC: Because of their limited budgets, JVs get creative with finding things to do with their free time. With the exception of planned community time, many JVs have nights and weekends free and are able to plan activities that allow them to explore their city and larger geographical area. Many JVs join the local Y or get involved with community or church activities. It depends on the city and your community’s dynamics, but there is always something to do wherever you live.

INTERNATIONAL: In international placements, JVs tend to enjoy visiting with neighbors and co-workers, sitting around, chatting, and learning from one another. JVs learn about their host countries by talking with friends and exploring.

Don’t disregard the joys of simple things like playing board games, reading, hiking, sharing a meal, starting random dance parties, writing letters to friends back home.

Can my family and friends call and visit me during my JVC experience?

Family and friends play an important role in your experience of JVC because they have helped shape who you are. It is important to welcome these people into your experience by sharing it with them. It’s also necessary to take time adjusting to the experience, becoming settled in it before you host visitors.

JVC asks that the first half of your time as a JV be reserved for a focus on your community, job, and city. During the second half of your time, you are welcome to invite family and friends to visit you.

INTERNATIONAL: Families and friends are able to call on a more limited basis due to financial, technological, and time differences. We encourage you to be aware of the frequency in which you connect to home, as it will affect, both positively and negatively, your ability to fully and authentically immerse yourself in the host country’s culture.

What type of place will I be living in?

JV homes are simply furnished with thrift shops finds, donations, or other items that past JVs may have left behind. Plates and flatware rarely match. Once placed in the program, you will have an opportunity to speak to a current JV or your program coordinator about your future living situation and find out what to bring.

DOMESTIC: Your community may live in a house, apartment, former convent, or mobile home. JVs generally live in low-income, racially diverse neighborhoods as a way to live in solidarity with the people they serve.

INTERNATIONAL: JVs sometimes live within, or quite close to, a school campus or parish. This location inevitably creates a larger community outside of the direct JV community, especially in conjunction with JV placements.

What other regular community obligations will I have?

Each community meets at least two evenings per week, once for a community-focused activity and once for an evening of spiritual reflection. We provide ideas for these two evenings, but JVs are primarily responsible for their content. JVs are also expected to attend JVC retreats.

INTERNATIONAL: JVs commit to attend weekly Catholic mass together with the local community, acknowledging that the experience may be quite different from that which they are used to in the U.S. In addition to attending and participating in the JVC retreats throughout the year, international JVs are involved in their planning too.

Am I permitted to have friends outside of JVC?

Yes! Many JVs make friends with coworkers, people in their neighborhood, or people they meet through church or other community activities. We encourage an active involvement in your community and city. As long as you are making active choices that allow you to be present to your community, it is helpful to branch out and build new relationships while in JVC.

Is there a lot of crime in the neighborhoods?

DOMESTIC: Volunteer neighborhoods vary significantly from rural to urban environments. In urban settings, JVs live in neighborhoods where crime is a fact of life. A JV’s most common brush with crime is petty theft of things like expensive MP3 players or bikes. Be mindful before choosing to bring these items with you.

There are some built-in safety factors. Living in community assures JVs that someone is around most of the time. Neighbors see JVs as somehow connected to the Church, which gives them a measure of respect and protection. Immediate neighbors are usually friendly, but can be curious as to who you are and why you’re living in their communities.

INTERNATIONAL: Like neighborhoods and cities in the U.S., crime and violence in the countries where JVs serve vary from place to place. There are safety risks such as theft, assault, and bystander violence in some of the countries. We work to ensure that JVs take necessary safety precautions and are not placed in areas which would be understood as extremely threatening to one’s personal safety.

Will I meet other JVs during my time in JVC?

DOMESTIC: Besides one’s own community, JVs will meet and get to know JVs in neighboring cities. JVs gather for retreats throughout the course of the year. These are great opportunities for you to build relationships with others who are living a shared experience. Many communities choose to celebrate holidays together or travel to other cities to spend time with other JVs.

INTERNATIONAL: International JVs come together for two weeks for summer orientation. In most of the host countries, there are two JV communities which are able to see each other with varying frequencies due to the distance and means of travel. Some communities live as close as an hour by bus; others live as far as a plane ride to another island. JVs working in the same country will gather once or twice a year for a retreat.

In countries where JVC has only one community, that community is not likely to see other JVs throughout the time of service. However it is quite common that JVs keep in contact with one other across the globe through hand-written letters, emails and blogs, and an in-house newsletter which shares JVs stories.

About JVC in General

What is the length of my commitment to JVC? When does it start?

DOMESTIC: We require a one-year commitment, which begins in the first weeks of August with orientation and ends the following August. During the placement process, you will need to commit to the program and the placement site before you report for orientation.

INTERNATIONAL: International JVs are required to commit to two years in their host countries, which begins with orientation in July. You would not generally return to the U.S. until their service obligation ends, including holidays, weddings, graduations, etc.

Most international jobs begin after orientation, others not until the late fall or early winter. All international JVs are required to attend the July orientation regardless of start date.

Is JVC difficult?

By the close of a their full-time service term, most JVs say that JVC is life-changing and one of the most wonderful experiences of their lives, but it’s also demanding and personally challenging.

Imagine living in an intentional community with three to seven women and men you’ve never met, sharing chores, meals, joys, and struggles. You work with people who will look to you to help with their day-to-day challenges, but you will also share in their successes. You are a long way from the people and places familiar to you, but you will create friendships that will stay with you forever. All at once, it’s difficult and energizing.

How is JVC different from other service programs?

The diversity of placements, the opportunity to live in a lay community, and the strong spiritual formation program are hallmarks of JVC. The network of Former Jesuit Volunteers is larger than any other faith-based full-time service program in the U.S.

How can I learn more about current Jesuit Volunteers?

Read more about the diverse experiences and interests of current Jesuit Volunteers in the field in JV Profiles!

About Life After JVC

What do most JVs do after they serve in JVC?

Some Former Jesuit Volunteers go to graduate school, some accept paid positions at their placement sites. FJVs move home, stay in their JV city, or move someplace completely new. Many pursue paths that allow them to continue working for peace and justice through their professions and vocations. In general, JVs gain valuable work and life experience that is well-respected and helpful in whatever they choose to do next.

DOMESTIC: JVs in the U.S. have an opportunity to add a second year to their terms of service.

How does JVC help prepare me for what I want to do next?

Your JV position will provide you with concrete skills and hands-on experience that will make you an attractive candidate to graduate schools and many professional fields. Because of JVC’s well-established reputation, Former Jesuit Volunteers are often eligible for special scholarships or acceptance consideration.

With a network of 12,000 FJVs across the country, you are never far from finding help when settling into a new community or exploring professional opportunities. Learn more about staying connected after JVC in the FJV section.