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TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


SWATJester posted:

So I'm graduating law school this year, and there's no jobs. My family has always wanted me to join the Foreign Service, and after reviewing the State department's website, it sounds interesting.

I'm a bit concerned about the FSOT. According to what I've read only about 25% pass the exam, and out of those, only about 10% get hired. But are those applicants mouthbreathers looking for a federal job, or are they actual intelligent people? What are the odds that an graduate of a top-tier law school would get in?

Expect a long, very slow process even if you pass. And once you get past the written exam, I doubt you are going to find many mouth breathers.

Even for FS Specialists, the time from submit application to passing the "review" passing the oral, passing med and security, can take around 2 years.

I'd imagine for the Officer and Specialist positions are being flooded with solid applicants.

Good luck.

Also, I remember on another message board some ivy league law grad getting denied multiple times in the QEP process. Always passed the written, never invited for an oral.

Edit: SWAT, I'd consider taking the bar, and other avenues of employment. Nothing is for sure, and the statistics that you hear about are ones that I've heard too... If the next written test is in Nov, you're still looking around what, next Spring for the next round of orals?

TCD fucked around with this message at 21:51 on Jul 8, 2009

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TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


SWATJester posted:

Would having a law degree overqualify me for the position or will it be right smack dab in the middle of competitive?

Also, I had a secret clearance when I was in the military, will that work to speed up the security clearance?

And finally, IIRC this is an exempted service position right? Will I still receive veterans preference (I qualify for 5 points).

I kind of wish there were like...recruiters or something, some sort of career counselor like the military has for these kinds of questions.

When I talked to an incoming A100 class, they were all over the place in experience and age, but there were quite a few who had Masters, PhDs, or JDs. Most had experience using those degrees however. Your military experience should help on your essays in the sense of you have an understanding of rigors of overseas life, and the ability to live in hardship areas (and the chance of doing unaccompanied tours). In other words, your law degree doesn't over qualify you or make you a shoe in. edit: Your law degree can help how you present yourself both on paper (via the writings, and of course during the orals). Or so I've been told...

Security clearance, I don't think so. I know a person who came from Navy with a TS and it took longer to get his DoS TS compared to others who never held a clearance. I think they still shoot for 3-6 months and most new people I've talked have been in that range, with a few taking close to a year, and some taking around a month.

I think your veteran preference counts ONCE you make it past the orals. I think that's when they add your vet preference to your score which then puts you in position on the register. Again, not entirely sure, but I thought that's the way it worked.

:edited a few things

Dept of State website posted:

# Can you give me an idea of the average time frame for completing the security and medical clearances?

It all depends on whether issues arise in either the medical or security clearance processes. It can take as little as 60 days (sometimes even less), but it can also take much longer if there are issues that are complex. Such cases, fortunately, are rather rare, and we generally know within 120 days or so whether the clearances will be forthcoming.

# I have top security clearance now. If I pass the Foreign Service Officer Test and oral assessment, would I be eligible for a job immediately?

If your TS clearance was granted by the Department of State, then you won't need a new one. However, if it's from another agency, we'll need to verify the duration and level of clearance to determine if we need to update the background investigation and issue our own clearance. In either case, your entire file will be reviewed to determine your suitability for appointment to the Foreign Service before you are offered a job.
via here
http://careers.state.gov/officer/faqs.html

TCD fucked around with this message at 00:27 on Jul 9, 2009

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Just wanted to comment that there is presently a program in place that can help FS Specialists transition to the Officer side. You still have to do the Oral Exam on your own dime, but if you get a passing score on the oral, you pretty much transition right into the next A100 class. You bypass the order list ranking. There's also a few ways where you can not take the FSOT as a way to get invited to the Orals.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


DustingDuvet posted:

I would disagree with that statement. It seems like they are able to place restrictions on what you can do if they see fit.

"U.S. government officials and their families in Colombia are permitted to travel to major cities in the country, but normally only by air. They may not use inter- or intra-city bus transportation, or travel by road outside urban areas at night."

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_941.html

Re-read the question and the response and your quote.

This does not appear to be the case of the FS preventing families from becoming too attached to the area.


Edit: Now if you read your quoted travel response there are other reasons on how certain liberties in countries might be restricted for various reasons compared to that of an expat coming into the country on their own.

TCD fucked around with this message at 19:47 on Jul 20, 2009

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Zoo posted:

It sounds like a lot/most of applicants have advanced degrees. How important is your academic background?

Further, does employment at a national level intelligence agency have a bearing on your application chances? Note that I am not a member of such an organization, but I do know someone who is, who has an advanced degree, and who is interested in applying. For me, I have no advanced degree, hence my first question. :P


As best as I know for Officers, you just need to have your resume and application packet make it past FSOT the QEP process. Once you get past that point, it's all about you at the Orals, not your resume and that's where it gets hard.


So, apply. You can apply multiple times and take the FSOT and Orals multiple times.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


pragan4 posted:

How do you go about computing a hypothetical score? The written exam score is rolled into that possible 7, right?

I don't believe the written exam is considered in that score. I thought it was just your overall score for the oral exam part (the out of 7 points).

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


xanthig posted:

What's the phase out time frame?

Also, do people working for DoS typically maintain houses in the US, just in case?

Vile Rat, why management track?

I'm not maintaining a house in the US.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


xanthig posted:

During a full career in DoS, how much time can one expect to be posted in DC?

Depends on the career and person.

Also, get used to "depends" in State.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Omits-Bagels posted:

Is there a fight to get the "good" locations (London, Paris, etc...)?

After your first two directed tours, you enter a competitive bidding process for your postings. So if the country or position is appealing, you probably won't be the only person trying to land that position.

edit:

xanthig posted:

I asked because other agencies with a strong overseas presence virtually require that you work in DC at least a few times during your career.

My understanding is that it depends on your position and the career track you're trying to aim for. I've heard of people that do most of their tours in DC and others that spend nearly all of it overseas.

TCD fucked around with this message at 23:20 on Jul 23, 2009

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Vilerat posted:

I can comfortably say no, you really wouldn't
I'm pretty sure Vile's right on this one

DoS is interesting. I think this applies to Generalists and Specialists, but typically, you come into the class, you know nobody. For Specialists you go through a crazy orientation where you're pretty overwhelmed. You make some really good friends, and then in a few weeks, the specialists go their separate ways by specialty, and then weeks to months later depending on specialty, you go on your way to different countries.

I can honestly say I've made some really good friends in relatively short amount of time, that I hope to keep in contact with for the rest of my life.

For new specialists, you typically do not receive language training in the US. Some do, but it's not the norm right now. If you happen to get language training, it's normally the FAST courses which are like 7 weeks or so? You do receive other training, and there's DoS provided self study materials if you want to go that route as well.

Some this depends of course. Specialists who have 3 months before they replace the person at their post are more likely to get language training or if they happen to get a slot that's language designated. Much like other things in the dept, it depends.

Pay bonuses go off hardship differential and danger which apply to anybody at the post(and hard to fill but that's job and slot dependent on that country, and I don't think people on directed tours qualify for it either) it varies all over the world and it can change at any time. Some African countries are 0% pay bonus, others can be 30% hardship and 20% danger so take your base salary and times it by 1.50. In one year later at post, your danger could go away and it be 20% differential. So to answer that question about pay bonuses, yes there are some, and it depends on the country and the time. What it is right now, maybe vastly different in 6 months. Or it could stay the same. It just depends. Also, I'm sure there are plenty of people who want to work in Eastern block countries


Edit:

Haji posted:

I'm also interested in employment opportunities for spouses. What is the hiring process like for spouses? I'm currently negotiating with my boyfriend about my applying for work as a FSO. The boyfriend works in IT as a Sys Admin. Would he be able to just walk into a job he's qualified for, or will he have as long of an application process as me? What benefits do spouses get? Can he get the same benefits as a Domestic Partner, or do we have to get married for him to get spouse benefits?



Vile can probably answer this, but, it depends on the post. Posts have the ability to hire EFMs to certain positions around the embassy, however if IT is full, I doubt he's going to get hired. This again, is entirely post dependent. If he wants to do full time IT and you two become a tandem couple, he has to go through the IMS hire process which isn't as involved as FSOs, but, you still have an application packet QEP, an Oral exam from a generalist and IT specialist, and pass med and security clearances.

edit: Also, if you think you want to apply for whatever position. Do it. You might get it, you might not.

Vile and AKA did something similar a year or so back here on SA, and well. Thanks guys.

TCD fucked around with this message at 23:05 on Jul 24, 2009

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


TCD posted:

Pay bonuses go off hardship differential and danger which apply to anybody at the post(and hard to fill but that's job and slot dependent on that country, and I don't think people on directed tours qualify for it either) it varies all over the world and it can change at any time. Some African countries are 0% pay bonus, others can be 30% hardship and 20% danger so take your base salary and times it by 1.50. In one year later at post, your danger could go away and it be 20% differential. So to answer that question about pay bonuses, yes there are some, and it depends on the country and the time. What it is right now, maybe vastly different in 6 months. Or it could stay the same. It just depends. Also, I'm sure there are plenty of people who want to work in Eastern block countries


Also, housing is provided.

http://aoprals.state.gov/Web920/location.asp?menu_id=95
That's an danger and hardship pay site.

Don't look at COLA. It's a percentage of a percentage of pay and is usually not more than 1-3000 a year even for high COLA percentages.
Look at hardship differential and Danger pay of basic compensation.

Also, whatever your current pay grade, times it by 1.07. A bill just went through congress to give overseas personnel a flat bump. Danger and differential go on top of that.

So, if you were to go to Warsaw, Poland(0% hardship, 0% danger) and you were making a base 50,000. You'd be making 53500 or so.

Now if you were to go to Vilnius, Lithuania(20% hardship, 0% danger) and you still made base 50,000. You'd be making 64200 or so.

However, don't assume these are the rates are set in stone. They can and do change all the time. Also, while you might be making a sweet 20,000 extra at a danger, hardship country, your next tour might be in a 0% country. Basically, look at your base salary and see if its enough, as you can't count on the extras all the time.

TCD fucked around with this message at 15:17 on Jul 25, 2009

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


xanthig posted:

I think you can get a really good sense of what different degrees of danger mean by studying this form:

http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/79967.pdf

What makes a post a hardship post?

Also, how often do you get stationed with the same people but at different posts?

Just an opinion and observation of hearing reports from various people.

Danger pay doesn't necessarily correlate to what you think is dangerous. For example, there are some posts with 20% danger that haven't had any significant violence either in the city or targeted at USG in the last several years or even recent memory, yet there are some other posts where the degree of random violence that's sometimes directed at Americans because of wealth or other reasons, have 0% danger.

For example, many posts in Africa do not have danger pay, yet have very high rate of violent crime in the cities.
edit: With that said there are some posts that do have danger pay where it's well justified (Kabul, Baghdad) etc. But, you could easily be going to a post that has some serious crime in the city where you have travel restrictions etc. and be 0% Danger Pay.

For hardship, it's just "hardship". I believe it can be medical(bugs and lack of care. I mean if you were to get into a car wreck and you can't trust the local medicine care for even simple treatment, you have to hope you make it until you get medivaced), environmental(pollution, open sewage, lack of good water (you'll have distillers and other water purification systems at USG facilities and residences, , social, political(have travel restrictions either from the US side or host country side), etc.

I'm going to a post that has 25% hardship in a few months. I'll be able to tell you more about it, although Vilerat has been to that country.

Edit2: Also, for those wanting to go to these countries, keep in mind both Generalists and Specialists have 2 directed tours. They give you a list of countries and you're going to one of those on the list. Sometimes its the country you wanted, othertimes it wont be. Additionally, one of the first 2 tours a FSO does will be Consular. So you again, you might be a Political Officer really wanting to do Eastern Europe, but you could easily go to Mexico doing con for you 2nd tour. A person in my class really wanted a place in Asia, spoke the language, and got sent to Central America. It happens.

TCD fucked around with this message at 19:36 on Jul 25, 2009

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


xanthig posted:

What is tenure?
Why is it required?
How do you get it?


When moving to a new post, what kind of things do you typically take from post to post, I assume the living quarters are furnished?
What about pets?
Are you allowed to own pets that are legal in the host country, but not typically allowed in the US (monkeys, wallaby, etc.)?
Tenure is required for both Specialists and Generalists, although the criteria on getting it is different.

I'm pretty sure you have your two first directed tours to make tenure, otherwise you are kicked out. It's like probation status.

Pets, it depends. Some people obviously do pets, but you have quarantine, and other issues some of which I believe are out of pocket. I personally am not taking pets.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


For Happydayz,

Last I heard, for FSOs, 1 of your first 2 tours will be cons. In talking with a recent A100 class, that was certainly the case. Some got their cone on first tour others got the cons tour.

edit: I also ran into 2nd tour officers who were headed off to do their cons tour. I want to say it might be a requirement in getting tenured as a generalist. Could be wrong on that one.


Also, happy there are Pol-Mil slots. I'm interested in looking at the generalist route after my initial two tours and hopefully tenured as a specialist specifically as a Pol. Business of Ferrets might have more info on that one.

Also at small posts I've heard of one person heading up Pol-Econ.

TCD fucked around with this message at 21:35 on Jul 26, 2009

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Business of Ferrets posted:

This sounds like wonderful practice for dealing with pretty much anything personnel or travel related at State.

Hahaha that's for sure.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Happydayz posted:

there are some positions that will require you to resign your reserve commission. Foreign service definitely. A national level intel agency - generally not.

Also, I'd be hesitant to roll into grad school straight out of undergrad on the Army's dime. That will likely come with a large price tag with respect to time owed to Uncle Sam. At this point you don't even know if you like Army life. And here's a hint - ROTC does not equal Army life.


quote:

# Is it possible for members of the Foreign Service to also be in the Reserves or National Guard?

There are a good number of Foreign Service Officers and Specialists in the Reserves or National Guard, and military leave is granted so that Reservists and members of the National Guard can fulfill their obligations. For detailed information on military leave and how it works, please click here and select 3 FAM 3440: http://www.state.gov/m/a/dir/regs/fam/c22159.htm.
So, does this mainly apply to enlisted Reserve and NG?

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


nesbit37 posted:

I just wanted to say that I am glad you guys made this thread. I am graduating with an MLIS and MA in history this month and am seriously considering the foreign service, particularly after spending a little time working in Germany in July. My biggest thing right now is to figure out how well it would all mesh as a life with my SO since she has 2 years of school left.
Poorly...

If you're straight, I don't think you can do the domestic partner thing like State is now doing for same sex couples, and I wouldn't want the SO to just me a member of household. You want them to be an Eligible Family Member.

Anyways, if you go the Officer route, guess around a year to get in if you make it through all the hurdles (the FSOT, QEP, orals, med and sec clearance and final review board (think generalists still have this)) and then you hit training hard with A100 and then language and post training until you ship out.

If I had to do it over again, I'd want my spouse to be here.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


xanthig posted:

How do couples in the foreign service handle pregnancy? Pregnant FSOs? Pregnant Spouses? Infants?

Depends on the country. I was in a class that had a pregnant FSO be medivaced(not an emergency), just a flight out of the country to here for better care and support. She's in classes here in DC until she delivers the baby, and then 6 weeks after that, she's headed back to the country with the baby. Her husband is also a FSO, and is presently still in country.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


xanthig posted:

They make this abundantly clear during the testing process. From what I can gather the length of the register differs greatly between tracks such that there is almost a 1:1 ratio of applicants to openings for consular and management while other tracks are more like 2 or 3:1. My suspicion is that this is also why they make it very clear that switching tracks is nigh impossible; to keep down the number of people who have political as their ultimate goal, but chose consular to get their foot in the door.

Nice thing about converting as a specialist.. we just need to get a passing oral exam score and we bypass the register.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Sure vile, I'll send an email tomorrow, but I think the program I'm thinking of is between FS4-FS6.

I'm guessing you're higher than a 4.

Edit: Vile I'm 90% sure I'm either going to try and do this program or just enter the process like everybody else for PD or Pol, I want to see what it's like once I'm at post though... under 2 months now.

Also for the OP, there's at least 3 specialists posting in this thread.

TCD fucked around with this message at 03:11 on Aug 3, 2009

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


nesbit37 posted:

I was playing around on the Foreign Service website this morning and came across the Information Resource Officer specialist position. This looks like it would be a great fit for me considering my the past couple years of education and work. Problem is, to qualify it looks like I would need to go work in a library or other information science position for at least 2 to 4 more years before I meet the minimum requirements.

My question for those of you who are currently in the FS, do you think it would be worth it to try and wait a few years until I am qualified for such a specialist position, see if I am still interested, and then apply? Or should I just shoot for a generalist position now? Keep in mind library jobs, particularly my specialty in archives, are not exactly common. I know the work will be different, but applying for a generalist position when there is a specialist one that fits my educational background feels like somewhat of a waste. That and I worry if I do not try to join the FS now other events will come up in the next 2-4 years that will make it much more difficult if not impossible.
My advice is follow your dream. If you'd rather be a specialist, go ahead and finish the training and go that route. If you'd prefer to be a generalist, go ahead and do the FSOT.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Vilerat posted:

It was explained to me like this:

Lets say you score a 5.7 on the test and you are going for a Political officer position. The cutoff (numbers out my rear end on this one) was 5.8 in this cycle since it was so competative so you don't get accepted.

Somebody could have gone in trying to get a Management position, scored a 5.4 and the cutoff was 5.3 for Management and would be given an offer of employment even though you scored better. It's not that Political officer is more difficult or anything, it's just that there are more people joining trying to be the next great political guru than there are people trying to join to manage the day to day operations of an embassy.
I've been meeting some recent A100 graduates... All their resumes are pretty impressive.

Met a guy yesterday that took the Orals 3 times before getting in. So if you don't succeed at first, keep trying. Now to see if my Post will have the FSOT when I'm out there.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


As happydayz pointed out, its not a resume perse but just a motivated person who could do well during the process. Several people had previous embassy experience, one was a graduate of an ivy league foreign affairs school(with some Middle East experience), etc. Some former peace corp or other similar type experiences.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


camoseven posted:

I'm an undergrad majoring in Policy Analysis at Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and I'm planning on getting an MPA after I graduate. How hard is it to get into the Foreign Service without having any professional experience beyond internships and terrible retail jobs? Should I just plan on working for a few years after grad school before I even have a chance?

Also, this might be a stupid question, but how long is Arabic going to be useful? I know it is a super critical language right now, but do you think it will be in 5 years? How about 10 years?

I also have a few questions about getting the security clearance, but I would rather talk about that over PMs. If anyone wants to answer them, let me know. Thanks.
The hard time that you'll probably have is the issue that most applicants have, and that's the QEP because it's just not known why some make it through that and others don't. The Orals are again, very competitive, but you have nothing to lose to apply right now.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


camoseven posted:

So resumes are the least important part of the process, and it is possible to get onto the oral assessment straight out of grad school?

I'd also like to know about advancement opportunities. I assume that political officers are assigned to more important policy areas as they advance. What about consular officers? Do they literally do visas and American citizen services their whole career?

Vile and Ferrets can elaborate more, but the one Consular lady who I talked to who's been in for over 10+ years is leading a consular program domestic.

I can tell you that the A100 students I've been meeting have had very diverse backgrounds. Essentially, only one person out of 20+ that I've met has had ivy league education, but all 20 have been very successful AND/OR have done some pretty interesting things on the outside. Age range is all over the place. I did have not met anyone in recent classes who've been HS -> College -> Grad School -> FS Generalist.

That's not to say people with that line of experience are making it in right now, it certainly could be the case, and I'm only meeting a handful of people out of the recent A100 classes. But, that's just what I've observed.


As to answer Xanthig, no your resume isn't intrinsically valuable to the hiring process as far as I understand. However, your experiences and skills gained accomplishing items on your resume will be what defines you as a person and also as a candidate is what I'm observing. Thus when I say these people had strong and impressive resumes, I'm saying is that these people have had some pretty interesting world experiences, often, international experience, and very smart which is reflected in their resume. But, I'm not HR or at all involved on any boards so I could totally be wrong.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


So, are you in a A100 class yet?

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


It's going to be a long week, so I'm going to sleep, but, Ferret's written part about first tour for Generalists is pretty much the same thing for Specialists. Take out A100, and substitute in "Specialist Orientation". and for FSOs put in "FS Specialist". We still have flag day etc. Although there are several specialist types that get domestic assignments, and some types have no choice on their first domestic tour(they aren't given a bid list, they know where they are going). But most of us do our first two tours overseas.

From what they've told us, the second tour sounds very similar, except we don't have a Consular requirement. For that equity part, over half of our list were hardship and or danger. Most were 20% or higher if I remember right That's right Costa Rica, I'm looking at you to cash in my 25%.

Vile or someone else who's further along would be better to comment.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Defecting to Nine posted:

Also signed up a month ago. Glad to see I'm not the only one waiting, was starting to get nervous about it.

This is status quo of the FS btw. Even once you're in.

There's just a lot of waiting with the hire process where you have no idea whats going on. Then you'll get a letter/packet/email of really important stuff. Followed by more weeks of crickets.

TCD fucked around with this message at 22:26 on Aug 25, 2009

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Anthropolis posted:

Some new info on the website about getting back to us with the schedule:


I just signed up - I'm a bit of a unique snowflake, because unlike you schlubs I'm still in lawschool (graduating December 2010). Hopefully that doesn't look too bad, but I'll gladly drop out if I get an offer before I can graduate.

I'd suggest you finish. As it is, you can typically defer an offer if you make it that far which would put you close to graduating, which usually takes months anyways to get passed the clearances, etc.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Business of Ferrets posted:

Anthropolis, SWATJester,

Though of course this is completely up to you, I would recommend finishing law school and seeking/gaining admittance to a bar somewhere. All the FSO lawyers I know have continued to pay their bar registration fees and done their continuing education in case they wanted/needed to go back to the practice of law.

Come to think of it, they all were already practicing attorneys before joining State, so for them it was just a matter of not letting membership lapse. It seems like a shame, though, to earn (and pay for) a law degree and not keep the options open to practice law.

My experience is a lot more limited, but I haven't met anyone who's like "I had a semester left and joined up". I'd really suggest finishing. The FS will be recruiting in the future.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Said good luck to a few goons who are flying out to Post over the next few days. My day is approaching pretty quickly.

Then it's decision time to take the FSOT or not.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


xanthig posted:

Is there any policy about personal computer/ personal network security?
uhhh...

What do you mean here???

like stuff at home or bringing stuff into work or something you are concerned about on the security review.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Go IMS not one of the tech spots.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Techs TDY all over, have their first post be DC for 2 years, and have only a limited number of oversea posts.

If you are single that might be better but...

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


They temporary deploy out to posts instead of doing a full tour like most IMS positions. This would be more difficult for my situation. Plus the cost of living in DC is quite high for an incoming Tech.

edit:
If you are single or like being on the road, tech work can be a good fit. There's a tech in this thread. Maybe he will post his thoughts.

TCD fucked around with this message at 20:52 on Sep 18, 2009

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


CherryCola posted:

So I have a question about the Consular career track. I've already applied for that one, so I'm locked in, but I was talking to a military guy yesterday who said I would have a ton of opportunities to speak my target language in that position. For some reason I had been thinking that it would be the opposite. What would you guys with experience say? Would I actually be able to speak frequently in a language besides English as a consular worker? Because that would be fantastic.
Why would you think you'd just be using English when you're pretty much the interactive face of the Embassy?



Edit: Decided to modify ferret's post to be about specialists. Hopefully this can make the front page.

How does the Foreign Service assignment system work?

For Specialists

A Specialist first two tours are directed, which means that, though the specialist gives input, the assignments office has the final say of who goes where. The initial two tours each normally last two years. For a specialist's first tour, a "bid list" is distributed during the first day or two of initial training. The number of jobs on the list will roughly match the number of specialists in the orientation class. I think DS had a 1-1. There was one additional spot on our list. OMSs had... 3 or 4 extra on their list. Often, some posts will have several jobs open for various specialties. San Jose might have an Office Management Specialist and Information Management Specialist both open. The current practice is to have new specialists rank every job on the bidlist. Specialists are also given the opportunity to turn in a "bid narrative," which allows them to explain their bidding strategy and interests. Specialists will discuss their choices -- and their rational -- with a career development officer (CDO). At the entry level, the CDOs get together and assign the new officers to positions. They usually try to get everyone one of their top bids, but that is not always possible, and the CDOs' first responsibility is to fill vacant positions. At the third and last week of specialist orientation there will be a "Flag Day" ceremony, where the whole class receives their assignments (and a small matching national flag, hence the name). Most specialists will find out shortly after Flag Day how much training they can expect. I, however, was 2 months into my training when I found out my additional training which turned out to be 2 months of supplemental training. Some specialist positions will be designated for language training… most positions will not receive language training. Core training also varies for the Specialist type. Some specialists have as little as 3 weeks after orientation to as much as 10+ months before heading to their first post.
******Note for Information Management Technical Specialists**** The first tour is in DC
******Note for DS Agents** The first tour is domestic. Agents bid on their preferred Field Office.
Both IMTS and DS Agents often temporary deploy for various assignments on their first tour. I believe the TDY can be 1-60 days possibly longer. During this TDY, I don’t believe family is authorized to follow the Specialist. Other specialists can also TDY depending on the situation.

When bidding for one's second tour, there are more jobs to choose from, but also more constraints on bidding. The governing principle of second-tour bidding is the idea of "equity." Equity is calculated by adding the hardship differential and danger pay (if any) from the first tour, then giving specialists with higher levels of equity priority for assignments. So people serving in Pakistan, for example, will have many more jobs to choose from than those in London . Keep in mind that Seoul is a "zero hardship" post, so you can imagine that this specialist's choices would be limited. There are also language issues if a specialist earned extra points for critical-needs language proficiency during the hiring process or during the first tour. Another factor is timing, which means that, even if you are fluent in French and otherwise qualified, if your first tour ends in April but that Paris job you want begins in October (to allow for six months of French study), you won't have a shot at it. The gap is just too large. Although there are many, many more jobs on the second-tour bid list than there are bidders, the extensive constraints mean that each bidder has only a small group of realistic bids. Both IMTS and potentially DS Agents can try to bid on oversea positions on their second tour.

I just did four years as a Specialist and I am tenured, but I want to be a Generalist, is there an "in house" conversion process??
Yes there is... Presently there are several ways in State that allow Specialists to attempt a switch to Generalist side of the house. They are still competitive, and some require passing the FS Oral Exam. But, one way, if you get a passing score on the orals, you get into the next A-100. You skip the register list as you already have a Med and TS clearance. And, you get to keep your tenure as a specialist so if you don't like or don't make tenure as a generalist, you still have a job. I believe AFSA is working on allowing more switching. But, I'll believe it when I see it.

In mid-level bidding, which is everything after your first two tours and before you get into the Senior Foreign Service around the 20-year mark or so (some specialist areas have the ability to reach the Senior Foreign Service like IT(known as IRM in State) and DS (IMS and IMTS converge together at FP-2). I'm not sure if OMSs can reach that level however...), the core of the process is lobbying for jobs. There is still a bid list (this is how you find out what jobs are available) and you still have a CDO, but getting jobs is all about your reputation and whom you know. There are some rules about bidding in your skill code and at your grade, but these are not onerous and are mostly a formality. You basically identify jobs in which you are interested, then put in a formal bid, then do everything in your power to convince the decision maker (usually a director on a country desk or in a functional bureau) that you are the best fit for the job. You will also ask colleagues and supervisors to put in a good word for you with the decision maker. If the job is popular, lots of other people will be doing the same. If you go after jobs far outside your reach, you run the risk of getting none of your bids and having to re-bid after most of the best jobs are already gone. The upside to this process is that specialists have enormous control over where they won't go, even if they don't necessarily get assigned to their dream job. Note: Excursion tours are possible either as a generalist or different specialist type.

The other specialists in the thread can fill free to correct any glaring problems with the last two parts.

TCD fucked around with this message at 22:22 on Sep 19, 2009

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Drewby Drewby Drew posted:

Thanks again guys. I appreciate your answers.

I'm not taking meds for anything serious. They are all generic/uncontrolled and not needed to keep me from being suicidal/homicidal. I'm thinking of tapering off them anyway.

Another question while I'm posting, what educational backgrounds do you IMS and ITMS guys have? Certifications?

A+, Net+ 4 years of IT(over 7 year period)


My degree is in IR and business. Yeah, I'm generalist in IT

However, my friend who came in at the same time, with a BS or BA degree in IT, and 7 or so years of IT experience came in 6 steps above me on the same grade... which works out to 10K difference.

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


For IMS, post can request you take any training you want beyond the core IMS training before you head to post. Other specialists also can get post specific training.

That's what my quoted comment was about. Also your education requirements or whatever is when you apply and go through the resume cut.

The requirements changed for IMS after I applied so don't think they are set in stone.

TCD fucked around with this message at 03:24 on Sep 22, 2009

TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Vilerat posted:

Surprised we haven't set up a state email chain at this point.

Ha.

I'm almost out of DC.... Almost.

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TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Xelly, you seem pretty passionate about some topics, Ferrets can clarify this, but in talking with some PD officers, you have to be ok with party changes. Something you care a good deal about might have the policy changed 180 after an election and you still need to be 100 percent behind the policy publicly and do your job as a FSO. Again, this just came when talking with FSOs so Ferrets can clarify.

TCD fucked around with this message at 16:00 on Sep 23, 2009

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