A-100: Weeks 4 and 5 in Review

It’s Flag Day Eve. Yes, as anyone who has entered the Foreign Service knows, that’s a thing.

Tomorrow at 15:30 EDT, in front of friends, family, and classmates, each member of the 178th Generalist Class of new diplomats will be called one by one to the front of a large room and handed a flag, and a folder containing a training schedule. The flag will be that of the country where we will serve our first overseas assignment, and the training schedule will tell us whether we’re going to post in a matter of several weeks, next summer, or anytime in between.

A-100: Weeks 2 and 3 in Review

It’s very cliche of me to start this post by saying that it’s hard to believe I’m already halfway through A-100, and yet it’s the absolute truth – both that it’s hard for me to believe, and that as of a couple of days ago, we’re only three weeks from our Swearing-In! I can totally see why new Foreign Service Officers often drop the ball on blogging during these very intense weeks of formality, responsibilities and hours of nightly homework. When I come home, the last thing I usually want to do is turn on my laptop to blog, even though I like doing it once I get into it.

To Peace Corps, With Gratitude

Last Wednesday I said goodbye to my staff position at Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington, DC after nearly four years of work. It was bittersweet, but made easier by the knowledge that I only had about a year left on my appointment, and that I was leaving to accept my dream job in the Foreign Service. I was also comforted by the knowledge that I will be eligible to come back someday (after my time out equals my time in).

Becoming an FSO Part IV: Clearances and The Register

After the euphoria of passing the Oral Assessment (FSOA) becomes a recent happy memory, it will be time to take a few more steps to keep your candidacy moving forward. The first step is reading all of the information you receive before skipping out of your OA. Some of the actions items are important and mandatory for you to complete within 30 days in order to not be terminated.

DISCLAIMER: These are my own observations about a process I began in 2011.  I’m writing this series to pay forward some of the great information and insights I found online during my own candidacy. But the posts will eventually contain out-of-date information, and thus interested applicants should consult official instructions and sources when pursuing their own candidacies.

Becoming an FSO Part III: The FSOA

The Foreign Service Oral Assessment (FSOA) is probably the most anticipated, and some would say the most dreaded part of the candidacy to become a Foreign Service Officer (FSO). I would argue that whether or not you dread the orals, they are certainly the most challenging and high-performance part of the candidacy.

DISCLAIMER: These are my own observations about a process I began in 2011.  I’m writing this series to pay forward some of the great information and insights I found online during my own candidacy. But the posts will eventually contain out-of-date information, and thus interested applicants should consult official instructions and sources when pursuing their own candidacies.

Becoming an FSO Part II: The QEP

Approximately three to five weeks after sitting for the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT), candidates are notified of their FSOT results. State Department’s Board of Examiners (BEX) reviews each candidate’s application materials, along with their FSOT scores, and emails candidates their results. Passing the FSOT is the step that enables candidates to proceed to the QEP, comprised of several Personal Narratives (PNs). I’ll outline the QEP stage of the Foreign Service candidacy in this post.

DISCLAIMER: These are my own observations about a process I began in 2011.  I’m writing this series to pay forward some of the great information and insights I found online during my own candidacy. But the posts will eventually contain out-of-date information, and thus interested applicants should consult official instructions and sources when pursuing their own candidacies.

Becoming an FSO Part I: The FSOT

In the first post in my “Becoming an FSO” series, I will discuss the first step of a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) candidacy: registering for and passing the FSOT (Foreign Service Officer Test). Please note that the process for becoming a Foreign Service Specialist (FSS) is slightly different; I’ll be talking about Generalist candidacies here.

DISCLAIMER: These are my own observations about a process I began in 2011.  I’m writing this series to pay forward some of the great information and insights I found online during my own candidacy. But the posts will eventually contain out-of-date information, and thus interested applicants should consult official instructions and sources when pursuing their own candidacies.

My Turn at Last: A-100 Offer

Over the last couple of years, I have spent what is cumulatively an embarrassing amount of time reading the blogs of Foreign Service Officers (FSOs). I admit that my interest – all right, let’s call it an obsession – was always geared towards whatever stage of the daunting hiring process that was ahead of me at that particular point in time.

My First Inkling to Become a Diplomat

In this post, I’ll give some background on my aspirations and timeline for joining the U.S. Foreign Service.

For almost a decade, I have wanted to join the Foreign Service and become a U.S. diplomat, specifically doing consular work. At first this goal sounded pretty far-fetched, even to me. I used to think that only political appointees or other well-connected folks could become diplomats. (Not true.) People who have known me for many years, if given ten adjectives to describe me, would not be likely to include “diplomatic” on their list. And I would probably have been inclined to agree, up until about eleven or twelve years ago.

Something Blog-Worthy…Maybe

It’s been a very long time since I thought I had something blog-worthy to write about.

Eleven years ago this spring, I was about four months into my service as an environmental education and management Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Macedonia. I would frequently use my laptop to compose lengthy email missives to family and friends about my experiences in Macedonia, back during a time when email was the primary means of non-verbal communication. In those days, if you went online and tried to Google search images of Macedonia, you wouldn’t find much, as I discovered between accepting my invitation to serve and desperately trying to glean a clue about what Macedonia looked like.

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