From the Archives: Selection Days 1989-2001

“Once we have received your complete application, you will be invited to a Selection Day in one of several locations across the country. Selection Days are designed to test your resourcefulness, judgement and compatibility, as well as your willingness to contribute some sweat! Education and athletic ability are not essential criteria–high motivation, drive and energy are! There are no selection quotas–only suitable candidates will be selected.” -YCI Website 2000

YCI Staff in the late 1990s, including current board member, Steve Gilbert.

Then: From 1989 until 1998, YCI selected volunteers (then known as “Challengers”) during a two-day “selection weekend.” The genesis of the selection weekend was a British military invention designed in the 1970s for efficiency and stress inducement. It was used to cull large numbers of applicants for the adventure-based Operation Raleigh (the organization from which YCI was born) expeditions. By 1999, YCI had changed from a Selection Weekend to a Selection Day to improve the efficiency of the selection process, reduce costs and make it more accessible to candidates. The fundamental purposes of both the Weekend and the Selection Day were to give YCI an opportunity to evaluate applicants, and to give applicants an opportunity to learn about, and be inspired by, the program.

Now: Selection Days continued until 2001, when YCI began conducting telephone interviews, which allowed volunteers from as far away as Sachs Harbour, NT, to be considered for YCI’s programs. Today, after applicants submit an application, they participate in a 30-minute telephone interview, which is an opportunity for candidates to share their motivations for becoming involved in an international community development project, as well as to ask staff any questions they may have.

During the interview process, staff not only assess whether applicants are a suitable candidate for YCI’s programs–they also determine what country or program a volunteer is best suited for, based on their skills, experience and education. (With programs in eight countries on four different continents, projects vary greatly.) We also look for volunteers who are sensitive to cross-cultural challenges, demonstrate the ability to take initiative, and who are eager to participate in youth-driven programming. Motivation, drive and energy still remain key indicators, but the education and career goals are also taken into consideration.


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