I saw the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and it made me a little more antsy for my first Foreign Service assignment. I'm ready to move overseas now! The scenes in Greenland and Iceland were particularly beautiful and inviting. The posters for the movie say "stop dreaming, start living" and right now my upcoming move still feels like a dream... one that's closer to reality as I completed a finalizing step today.
I received my confirmation letter (final offer with my starting grade and step) and signed the "Agreement to Join the Foreign Service" memo. This step finalized my acceptance of employment. Passing the OA didn't guarantee I'd get a final offer so it was still a matter of "if" until the class offer was sent and I said I'm available. Now it's all official and I'm committed to starting 3 weeks of Foreign Service Specialist orientation Feb 10th followed by at least 17 weeks of training specific to my Information Management Specialist (IMS) specialty.
It took a little while to get the confirmation letter because of the holidays. There's also a process for setting the starting step based on current salary, education, and experience. The starting grade isn't negotiable for Foreign Service Specialists (FSSs) and only depends on the specialty. In contrast, Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) start in grades FP-06 to FP-04. On the FSS side, for example, all Office Management Specialists (OMS) start at the FP-07 grade and my IMS specialty starts at FP-05. FP-05 is higher than FP-07 since the grades count down from FP-09 to FP-01. This is opposite of the GS pay scale I'm in now which counts up. It also has 14 steps per grade instead of the 10 steps on the GS scale. Older/younger and more/less experienced all start as the same entry level specialists and go through the same training. Yep, it's just like joining the military all over again where everyone starts somewhat equal and then progresses through their careers at different speeds.
The rest of this month at work is about tying up loose ends and helping the friends I work with however I can in the short time remaining. The month will fly by way too fast in that regard since I work with some great people. The cleaning and purging of accumulated stuff at home continues as we work on becoming nomadic again and getting the house staged to sell.
Walter Mitty progressed in the movie from daydreaming about adventures to living real adventures of his own... I'm ready to do the same!