Tag: Becoming an FSO

Your Questions Answered, Volume V

It has been almost five months since the last edition of Your Questions Answered, so I thought I’d share some recent Q&A from the blog’s inbox, edited for length and clarity. In this edition, I’ll address how embassies decide which officers get language training (and how much), length of service vs. number of tours, whether officers serving on the U.S.-Mexico border can live on the U.S. side, and what consular officers do as they advance in their careers.

And as always, please remember these are my unofficial answers derived from my own experiences. Your mileage may vary.

Your Questions Answered, Volume IV

It has been about a year and a half since my last YQA post, so I decided to share a selection of repeat questions the blog has received since then for wider distribution, along with my answers. I have edited both questions and answers for clarity and privacy wherever necessary. In this edition, I tackle questions about candidate experience and qualifications, travel, dual-citizenship, and mail.

These are unofficial opinions and my personal advice, which are worth roughly what you pay for them. (Wink!) These posts remain popular through the years, so I will try to do them more often if the questions keep rolling in.

Go ahead, ask a diplomat! You can email the blog a question at askcollectingpostcards@gmail.com.

Six Years Later, the Answer is Still Yes

After waiting on the register for almost a year and five months, it was on this day in 2014 that I received “the call” to join the U.S. Foreign Service. In other words, I was invited to become a diplomat. It was my favorite Cinco de Mayo ever, and one of the most exciting days of my life. Accepting the offer marked the end of my three-year quest for the professional opportunity of a lifetime – my chance to be a part of the 178th Generalist A-100 Class at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in Arlington – and the beginning of a whole new career and lifestyle. Finally, my candidacy had been successful and I was in! The last six years haven’t been perfect, but given the chance, I’d do it all again.

Foreign Service Day

In 1996, the United States Senate designated the first Friday in May as “American Foreign Service Day.” It is on this day that members of the Foreign Service around the world come together to recognize the work that our nation’s diplomats do. It is also a day to pay tribute to those we’ve lost; today at high noon, we at U.S. Embassy Canberra gathered at the chancery flagpole for a few moments of reflection and remembrance.

Four Years in Blogging

It was on this day in 2014 that I published my first post on the Collecting Postcards blog. I started the blog because I wanted to talk about my journey to the Foreign Service; little could I have known that only 22 days later I would receive the invitation to my dream job for which I’d tried so hard and waited so long. Collecting Postcards has been there through it all, and with 25,000 visitors from 165 different countries and 76,000+ unique page views to date, the blog is just getting started.

Year in Review: 2015 Blog Stats

With each new year comes a period, however brief, of looking back and seeing where we’ve been.

I established the Collecting Postcards blog on WordPress in April 2014, and one year later I discussed blog stats in One Year in Blogging. Now that 2015 has ended, I have my first full calendar year to analyze. I’m always curious to know how readers find the blog, which posts get the most views, and from which countries do readers visit?

One Year On

One year ago today, the members of the 178th Generalist Class made their way to Main State in northwest Washington, DC for the first day of A-100. Arrival time requested: 07:45. That morning kind of felt like holding onto an electric fence with both hands, for so many reasons.

Congratulations to the 180th A-100 Class

Yesterday morning, before the clock had even struck 7:00 a.m., I drove to the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington to help welcome a new group of diplomats from the 180th Generalist Class to their first day at FSI.

In the Foreign Service, each class sponsors social and informational events for the group two classes behind them. For many new diplomats, their first day of A-100 orientation is likely preceded by events like a packout and move to a new city (sometimes even an international move), learning to navigate unfamiliar public transportation, making new schooling arrangements for children, dealing with pets, possibly even a spouse who has given up his or her career to join this adventure – and all of that is before even going to post!

Swearing In Recap

I opened my eyes on the morning of Friday, August 8. A big smile spread across my face as I thought, “Today is the day!”

Our last day had arrived, the day when we would get up and officially swear in as diplomats during a formal ceremony. For months and even years I’d wished to join an A-100 class. Now I was smiling because, incredibly, not only had I made it in, but I’d made it through. Those six weeks of A-100 were finally about to end.  A-100: I’d laughed, I’d cried, I’d graduated.

Flag Day Recap

On August 1, I started counting down the hours until our Flag Day ceremony as soon as I arrived at the Foreign Service Institute. Eight and a half hours until 15:30. Just eight and a half more hours until I find out where my first assignment as a U.S. diplomat will be. Despite my best efforts and intentions, I hadn’t slept much the night before, more out of sheer adrenaline than actual nerves.

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.

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