When Dan O’Rourke graduated in 2005, he already had a job, but he soon gave it up for a rather life altering experience.
O’Rourke, after some encouragement, left a job at Caterpillar for the Peace Corps.
For 27 months, O’Rourke lived and worked in the Republic of Moldova in Eastern Europe. The first three months he spent in training and learning the Romanian and Russian languages while learning skills he needed to be able to teach the people in Moldova.
When he arrived in Moldova and came into his position, O’Rouke knew that more than 1,500 people were looking toward him, as an educated American and member of the Peace Corps, for leadership and to help make their lives better.
After he completed training, O’Rourke spent time working with the mayor of one city on developmental grant projects.
It was his job to look for funding from community members and non-governmental organizations to back the building and improvements of educational and community centers. O’Rourke said he was touched by how grateful people were after gaining things Americans take for granted, such as basic computers and internet connections in a community center.
“It was amazing to see the kids and community members so happy to finally be connected to mainstream media,” he said.
O’Rouke also spent time teaching English and coached a boys’ basketball team that went all the way to the national championship.
Upon returning to the United States, O’Rouke took a job in sales for a year. A friend he had made in Moldova encouraged him to apply for a job as a Peace Corps recruiter based in Chicago.
O’Rouke is now a regional recruiter in the Midwest. He gives presentations and meets people at career fairs in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana.
On Feb. 10 and 11, O’Rourke will be back on the Hilltop to recruit current students to the Peace Corps.
Approximately eight Bradley grads are currently serving in Peace Corps, and at least 87 alums have served since the agency was formed in 1961.
O’Rouke encourages all students to stop by and meet him at the career fair. The Peace Corps is looking for people with leadership abilities, experience in learning a foreign language (especially Spanish or French), experience in teaching or training, cultural awareness and those with high maturity levels.
Students applying for the Peace Corps should not expect to have all of the same experiences as O’Rouke. There are four main industries Peace Corps members work in: Community development, English education, environmental development and agricultural development.
O’Rouke said joining the Peace Corps and going to Moldova gave him many rewarding experiences. He encourages Bradley students to consider joining before jumping into the post-graduate life of corporate jobs saying it’s something everyone would be lucky to experience.
“The job cubicle with no window will wait for you,” he said. “Go experience the adventure and come back to America having experienced something better in society and our world.”