Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The longest (partial) year - so far.

In late 2008, I made the fateful decision to give a go at the United States Foreign Service (alternately known as the diplomatic corps, and alternately again known as US Embassy staff).

In January 2009 I registered for stage one: the Foreign Service Written Exam (insert dramatic music).

I took the test one day in February, then received the email notification in March that I had passed! (Hurdle #1 accomplished.)

I was then to submit written essays (known as PNQs), due in late March. I then received email notification in May that I had passed! (Hurdle #2 accomplished.)

In June I was to register for the Oral Assessment, a one day "interview" of the type one rarely encounters if applying for just any old job (say, brain surgeon or something like that). The date was set in stone (September 28, 2009), and continues to approach with the speed of a turtle with polio. Given my available time since mid-June (summer break from teaching high school), I've spent the past weeks familiarizing myself with all things foreign service: reading books, perusing amusing blogs (unlike this one) posted by FSOs (Foreign Service Officers to the uninitiated) around the globe, and researching my little tail off to prepare for the Big Day.

Once the Oral Assessment is complete on the afternoon of 9/28, I will have my answer. Sort of.

If I pass, I will have acheived Hurdle #3, but Hurdles #4 - 7 (perhaps more) remain. Immediately after notification that I have passed (should I be so fortunate), I begin the Medical and Security Clearance processes, and then I must have a Final Suitability Review where my entire life is examined to determine whether all who poked and prodded through my past and present might have missed something that would disqualify me. Then I get placed on a list of eligible candidates for the Foreign Service, and then the waiting begins.

The Medical & Security clearances can take months (maybe even a year or more), and just getting on the list is no guarantee of a job, so in reality I could be teaching for two years or more, and that's IF I pass the Oral Assessment in September. Whew.

Needless to say it's been a long haul so far, but could very well continue into 2011 before there is closure. Or it could be over in one months' time. Not many applicants make it this far, so I feel quite proud of myself for making it this far. But as we say in baseball (or a modern political campaign): This is a marathon, not a sprint.

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