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AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

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

Those are fairly rare and mostly common sense anyways. There are a handful of places where fraternization with the locals is restricted due to concerns about espionage, Cuba springs to mind. But tons of people are married to people they met while posted abroad, sometimes it seems like it's the norm.

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AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

xanthig posted:

A more relevant question than what is a DoS employee allowed to do is what is DoS corporate culture like with regards to getting your hand dirty?

US embassies seem to try real hard to be small enclaves of the USA, shutting themselves off from the countries they are in behind fortress walls. So how engaged are foreign service officers with the host countries?

Do they get to go out into the field much, or culturally is that avoided as much as possible?

How adventurous is you average embassy employee? For instance, how many of them would eat a tarantula when invited to by a host?

What defines hardship for a posting?

Most people are pretty adventurous and the culture is really geared towards getting out and experiencing things. They ask you right up front if your willing to live anywhere in the world so that immediately filters for people who are at least comfortable with that. And you live on the economy so your shopping, eating, and living next to the locals. They might be some of the wealthier locals but they're locals.

I don't know about a tarnatula specificly but one of the things I like about the Foreign Service is that it's pretty easy to round people up to go eat something weird.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

It's all been computerized but the State Department still uses telegrams (we call them cables) for official communication. It's a way of retaining everything an allowing posts to distribute things how they'd like, something you really can't do in the same way with email.

It's due to be replaced pretty soon though.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

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?

Soonish maybe? It's still being tested.

Some people keep houses in DC and rent them out. It's not the norm though. You really aren't going to find yourself in a situation where you suddenly need a home back in the states right away.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

xanthig posted:

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

Most Officers, in my experience, do it once or twice. It's good for networking and getting your name recognized. It's not quite as useful for Specialists and most might only get posted to DC at the end of their careers if at all.

Right now we're beginning to transition to everybody's base pay being based on DC locality pay. It used to be that people liked to go to DC for the last three years so they'd get a better retirement. This new system takes away an incentive to do that, so there will probably be more people who go their entire careers without serving in DC.

The upshot is it pretty much depends on how you want to handle your career.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Sometimes you can get language training at post. I had a Russian tutor for a while but it got to be too hard to make time for it. I honestly have no idea how common that is though.

And there are a few posts where you can't bring family. But I think that's only Baghdad and Kabul right now.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Some places have Information Management Assistants (IMA) who are EFMs with the proper clearance who help out with IT stuff. Thats not too common though.

The only truly large post in Eastern Europe is Moscow. We're a little on the big side here in Kiev, but there's plenty bigger. You may not want a big post anyway.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

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.)?

Getting tenured means that your no longer an entry level employee and you can continue with the FS beyond your Limited Career Appointment. Tenure is non-competitive. So unlike promotion you aren't competeing for a limited number of slots, everybody up for review could get tenured or nobody could get tenured. Most people get it though.

Almost all posts with housing are furnished*. You get a shipping allowance based on how people you have in your family and whether or not the post your going to is furnished. If you have too much stuff you can have it sent to storage. Some people take as much as they can, some people carry virtually nothing. The furniture is pretty lousy though.

Lots of people have pets but you have to deal with whatever the host country's requirements for bringing in animals are. It may be hard to get pet food and veterinary care too. I'm not aware of any rule against having a monkey or something like that is the host country allows that, but if the landlord objected or it caused some other housing related problem you may be asked to get rid of it.

*There are a small handful of posts that don't maintain their own housing pool and give you a housing allowance which you use to obtain your own. I think that's limited to the Embassy and consulates in Canada though.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

The relationship between the Ambassador and the Deputy Chief of Mission (The second in command) matters a lot, especially when the Ambassador is a political appointee. Different places call for different skill sets so it's not necessarily a bad thing to draw on outsiders.

In Barbados we had a very wealthy Ambassador who paid for two kick-rear end Fourth of July parties. So there's that. And she traveled in her own jet, so it saved the taxpayer some money.

edit: I think you mean DCM smeef. Chargé is short for Chargé D’Affaires, the person who's in charge when the Ambassador is away. This would be the DCM unless they're away as well, so the terms get confused sometimes.

AKA Pseudonym fucked around with this message at 19:06 on Jul 28, 2009

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

The thing about IROs that you might want to weigh is that they only get posted to a small handful of posts. They do travel around though, but you'll only to get to live in a few places. There are only about 30 currently and I'm not sure how often they accept applications.

You could go from being an officer to and IRO or you could do an excursion tour but I wouldn't go into it counting on doing that.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

I've done a lot of work on the receiving end and talked to a lot of couriers. It's a pretty serious grind and you're usually in on one flight and out on the next. I really don't want to discourage anybody who's interested. You get to keep your miles, it's a foot in the door, and plenty of people like it. But it's a lot of sitting on airplanes and standing on tarmacs and not getting a lot of respect. Eventually you can wind up managing a group of couriers, but you'll still probably be doing runs from time to time.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

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.

If you get the call before December '10 you can let them know your still interested but want to wait a few months. They start new classes about every 2 months so they can get around to you in a little later.

You stay on the list even if you turn down one specific offer.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Some people seem to be trying to make it into some sort of Blackwater thing, which it really isn't. At most embassies the role these guys perform is done by local security companies. There are still Marines on duty but these guys guard the perimeter, keep an eye on the metal detectors, watch over the parking lot, and that sort of thing. I'm sure the duties are very different in Kabul but armed American citizens with military experience is more than most places get. The totally-not-gay hazing rituals are unique too as far as I know.

I have no idea if this particular outfit actually did it's job well or not.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Most of the DS guys I know are pretty cool. And they always seem to have the best stories.

They're mostly concerned with the security of the embassy and it's personnel in terms of both counter intelligence and safety. They also investigate visa and passport fraud and sometimes help other law enforcement agencies with investigations.

The big downside is that a huge chunk of their jobs are domestic so they don't spend as much time overseas as most other FS people. And their first post is always domestic.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

CherryCola posted:

Hey guys! I just signed up to take the test on October 7th. I speak Hindi/Urdu and am going for my M.A. in South Asian Studies. Unfortunately my American History/Government background isn't incredibly strong, but I'm going to study my butt off. Also, I watch C-Span and read news like a crazy person.

One question about background checks. A couple years ago I dated a Palestinian dude for like a month. Is this the type of thing that could end up looking bad when they're deciding security clearance?

There are a staggering number of Chinese and Russian brides in the Foreign Service. A Palestinian boyfriend would hardly raise an eyebrow.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

xanthig posted:

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

How is smoking treated in DoS culture? Is it looked down upon, or do a lot of people smoke as a way of dealing with the stress of the job. By that same token how is the occasional trip to the bar viewed?


How much freedom do DoS employees have in their financial matters. If I left my job for DoS, I would still be collecting royalties on patents for years to come, would that be an issue? What if one of the licensors was a business overseas?

If you have family/ friends in the country you are stationed in, is visiting them a problem? What about staying over in their home?

There's no policy on what you do with your own computer at home on your own time. The Department will supply you with anti-virus for your home computer if you want though.

As long as you're not constantly hammered during working hours or generally acting stupid drinking is not frowned upon at all. TGIF parties or Marine happy hours are pretty common. It's actually a pretty big part of the culture.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

SWATJester posted:

Marine happy hours? Tell me more (I'm ex-Army, wouldn't mind drinking with Marines).

Every once in a while the Marines well sell beers and whatnot after work. The profits go to fund the Marine Ball which celebrates the founding of the Marine Corps.

As far as IMS vs IMTS goes the only real advantage I see to IMTS is that they tend to get promoted quicker. There's a pretty big shortage of IMTSs and lots of people hop from IMTS to IMS. Plenty of people like the travel and variety and stick with it though.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

I just noticed that Drewby Drewby Drew asked for numbers and I babbled about something else.

There's a ton of IMSs (That's not really the best way of saying it because IMS is a specific position, IT managers get called different things but that's making things too complicated). It's far and away the largest of the specialties.

I don't really know how many IMTSs there are. Either way they're hiring a lot of both.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Drewby Drewby Drew posted:

Thanks AKA Pseudonym, TCD and Vilerat!



Other than the part where Vilerat says, "You have two levels of post you can go to really unlike an IMS who can be sent pretty much anywhere (for good or bad)," it seems like IMTS is the position that is more likely to have you moving around more, correct?

For an IMTS travel is part of the job description. In the IMS skill code you might be able to do a short stint at a post that needs it and there are rover positions where all you do is fill in gaps. But basically IMTSs move around IMSs stay put.

quote:

That's really great that it's easy to switch between the two.


Now here's a question that isn't answered on their medical/health FAQ.

Does taking any kind of medication for any mental health issue immediately disqualify or significantly decrease your chances of being accepted? I know with Peace Corps it pretty much sends your application to the shredder.

I don't know how it would viewed in the application process or in the security clearance process but it could cause a problem in getting a medical clearance due to the limited availability of certain drugs in some places. I have a friend who wasn't able to go to the post he was assigned to out of training because his son's ADD medication was tightly controlled there. Those decisions can be be pretty arbitrary though so your mileage may vary.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Skandiaavity posted:

er - I did receive passing marks on the exam - just I was not chosen for the oral interview. I think the last time I took the test was in '07? Have things really changed much since then? I don't have any qualms about retaking the exam. In my case I think it may be I'm a bit overqualified for the entry level FS positions (which are required? or is it possible to just skip entry level and go straight into mid-high level diplomacy?)

I do have the pull with a few people to get a political appointment, but I'd prefer to make it on my own merits rather than who I know.(Favors in 'this town' are hard to come by, especially ones with weight behind them) I was just asking about State, internally.

I was just having words with some state employees the other day - they mentioned that for a specialist position, FSOT is not needed despite it being a FS Job. (apologies if you've already answered this) Is it possible to backdoor one's way through Specialist - Officer position?

As a Specialist, if you meet certain requirements (Don't ask me what they are, I just don't want to wear a tie) you can skip over the written exam and become an Officer. You still have to go through the oral assessment though which is usually regarded as harder.

edit: Well there you go

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

CherryCola posted:

Alright, I'm heading in pretty soon to take my test. But I just realized something that may not be so awesome. When I was filling out my application, I forgot to write in my high school jobs because I just really haven't even thought about them in years...but I looked back over and realized that they were in 10 years so I should have written them in. Are they going to think I'm hiding poo poo from them, is there any way for me to email in the information I left out? Am I totally dead?

You'll have a chance to amend your clearance application if you get the conditional offer

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Congrats to the folks that passed and to VR on his SMART installation (I can't wait)

Condolences to the folks that didn't make it. Better luck next time.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Most people who join the Foreign Service have pretty impressive backgrounds when it comes to travel. I know people who've traveled all over China and not had a problem. It helps to have some identifiable purpose if your going to certain places though. Yearly two day "tourist" visits to Beijing and nowhere else would raise eyebrows.

There are few clear cut rules with regard to clearances. But aside from a few horror stories I've heard the decisions are almost always very reasonable.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

CherryCola posted:

So if I tell the dudes that I'm actually interested in going to one of the "danger zones" right off the bat, (For example, I'm really down with working in Pakistan, which I guess is a place they need people) would that pretty much guarantee that I'd be going there as one of my first couple assignments?

Nope. HR will work out what goes on the new hire's bid list which is a mix of things. If you get a bunch of danger posts and rank them high odds are you'll get one, if you don't it depends on how brave your classmates are. Whatever you tell the interviewers won't have any effect.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Barracuda Bang! posted:

So, I submitted an application for the courier job about two and a half weeks ago - how long does it usually take for them to decide if you can take the exam, or whatever the next step is? It's been on "Eligible - referring to hiring official" or whatever for a while now.

For me it took a couple of months, my memory is pretty fuzzy though. It was the slowest part of the process in any event.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

CherryCola posted:

So, last week I was talking to my landlord/host mother from this summer in India and she told me that a couple Indian intelligence officers had stopped by to ask about me and one of my friends. Could this be because of my FSO application or should I be actually worried? For reference, I haven't done anything even close to questionable on Indian soil besides going to the Wagah border to watch the border closing ceremony. Do they start checking on people this early?

They start looking into you after you get a conditional offer and you turn in your application for a security clearence. The first thing they do is interview you, so you'll know exactly when it starts. I have no idea what's happening in your case but I wouldn't worry about it.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Barracuda Bang! posted:

A question about DC postings - is it worth buying a house while you're there? I mean, you'll be in and out of DC your whole career so maybe...but it seems like it'd be wasted when you're gone. Rent it out maybe? What do most people do?

I know a lot of people who keep places that they rent and several people who've made it into something of a second career. I can't really speak to what the norm is though. It depends on your personal situation and how much you intend to serve in DC, some people never do at all.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Winna posted:

I feel like, if you went into the foreign service single, it would be very difficult meeting young singles as well with this lifestyle. Any truth to this observation?

Also, I know you can buy back military service, can you do so with peace corps service?

You can always come to Eastern Europe and save postage on your bride.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

WhoDaresWins posted:

Out of curiosity, do any FSOs hash at all or is it looked down upon/considered unprofessional? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hash_House_Harriers)

Also, do FSOs ever get involved in any ground-up international development, formally or informally (Three Cups of Tea sort of stuff)

Are there restrictions on your vacation time involving being out-of-contact with the embassy? For instance, if you want to go mountaineering or spend a week or two hiking, are there any formal restrictions (espionage, etc) or informal cultural biases against it?

Lots of people Hash. I know an officer with a huge collection of Hash T-Shirts.

There aren't any particular rules about being out of contact while on vacation. There are scheduled times when your expected to serve as a duty officer and be in contact for various things. But you'll know when thats coming and be able to plan for it. Some places may only allow a certain number of people from your section to be out of town at any given time, but again that's easy to plan for.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

All-in-One System Administrator is a pretty good description. We also deal with phones, radio, mail, and the diplomatic pouch. Some of those things are handled more by local staff but you still have to be familiar with them. You're not going to be elbow deep in the latest and greatest technology though. All your major installations are done by teams that come in so you're mostly just keeping things patched and running and also keeping your customers happy.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

An IPO is in charge of IPC which deals with the classified network. It also usually handles the radio program, diplomatic pouch, and telephones. An ISO is in charge of ISC which deals with the unclassified network which is just one thing but is a lot of work. An embassy may have one but not the other or neither but always has an IMO. Consulates can have one or both.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

You can do back to back tours at the same post in a different position. And I don't know of any reason why you couldn't just keep doing that indefinitely if you really wanted to and you managed to sell it to post and assuming there's something open. People would probably start to look at you funny though and I imagine it would start to get boring.

You're limited to six consecutive years in DC though.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

xanthig posted:

What exactly constitutes a diplomatic pouch? Is it anything officially shipped to the embassy, or is there more to it than that?

Mostly very boring stuff we don't want anybody tampering with or planting listening devices on. Stuff you could find in an ordinary office anywhere.

Here's a good Straight Dope article on the subject

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2234/is-there-such-a-thing-as-a-diplomatic-pouch

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Medical care is often a big factor in hardship pay. If you're healthy and reasonably sure you won't get squashed by a bus there's some pretty good deals out there.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Pompous Rhombus posted:

IIRC you get the same points (.4) for Critical Needs as Super Critical needs, excluding Arabic which is .5 points. The difference, I think, is that you get the points for a Super Critical Needs added on after passing the written test, whereas with the Critical Needs you only take after passing the Oral exam. So basically, I think it's worth waiting if you're not confident on passing the written exam and QEP panel, otherwise I don't think it makes a difference unless you have a preference for serving in Tajikistan over Russia. I got the info from this page.

BTW, way off topic of the thread but could you please show me how to write "I am the walrus" in Cyrillic?

Something like "ыь ам тй валврус" maybe. There's no "Th" sound so I'm substituting a hard "T" sound and no "W" so I'm substituting a "V" sound. I'm not too sure about "I" either since vowels are confusing.

So you have something like "I am Tee Valvrus."

I mostly eat at places that have English menus obviously.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Pompous Rhombus posted:

Oh, sorry I meant a literal translation of the phrase, written in Cyrillic rather than phonetically in Western script.

Ah, in that case "Я морж."

You didn't ask for it but people might be wondering what that's only two words and I'm in an explaining mood. It's pronounced "Ya Morj," literally "I Walrus." Russian doesn't really have a definite article or a present tense for "To be" so you get to walk around talking like Tarzan.

edit: I'm assuming you mean Russian. Other languages use Cyrillic or variants of it. But Russian is the most prominent.

AKA Pseudonym fucked around with this message at 23:13 on Feb 12, 2010

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

If I was going to go the Generalist route I think I'd choose management. It lacks the office politics of the Pol/Econ/PD cones and it isn't Consular which is where the real grind is. But there are plenty of people in each cone who enjoy it so go with whatever sounds right to you I guess.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

internetstuff posted:

Thanks guys. I had seen the pay scales before, but I didn't know how rapidly the FS tends to promote people up them. Do you automatically get step increases every year? Do you tend to hit FS-4 or so and then sort of stall there for a while?

Thanks

You get step increases every two years. Promotion stats vary depending on what job you're in. 6 or so years between promotions seems to be the very, very loose and general rule of thumb. Your first is automatic after 18 months though.

One word on weight limits for your stuff, keep in mind that nearly all posts have furnished housing. It's not the greatest (You're guaranteed to get the same ugly couch everywhere) but it makes moves a lot simpler. There are posts without furnished housing, you get a much bigger shipping allowance for that.

AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

I honestly don't know why I was thinking that

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AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Vilerat posted:

Anybody who ever makes the claim to you that you need to go to bad places after good is full of poo poo

No kidding. I just took a handshake from Geneva.

Some of us don't even need to do a tour in Baghdad

edit: I'm an IMS (specialist) in Kiev. Technically a hardship post, but whatever.

AKA Pseudonym fucked around with this message at 07:55 on Apr 1, 2010

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