I'll start by saying this blog is my own personal thing. This isn't the place I can or should reveal anything that isn't public knowledge about my employer. I don't see it as an unusual restriction or anything I've been specifically instructed about in orientation (so far). I'm just going to use common sense and only share personal things here about my life outside of work. Having said that, there will be some crossover and one thing that definitely impacts me is the "bid list" or my first list of possible assignments. I'm not going to share the specific list since I haven't seen a complete list on any other foreign service blog. I've seen a few general summaries so that's what I'll write. In the end, only one location on this internal list of openings will be mine and that's the specific location I know I can share in a future post.
The First Bid List
I will confirm for anyone interested in joining the foreign service that they really mean it right from the start when they say we must be worldwide qualified. Fortunately we have a large class of Information Management Specialists (23 now) so there's a lot of variety on my list. Every continent except Australia is represented. The list is somewhat evenly spread over South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. There is one North America opening and fortunately it isn't in the US since I didn't join to stay in DC. There will be opportunities later in my career to come back to DC or maybe even NYC supporting the UN for an assignment. Being in the foreign service does mean that I can't be in the US longer than 5 years if we do come back. The State Department has many civil service jobs here in DC if you want to just stay here instead of move around.
One interesting thing I didn't know when I started is that the departure dates from here may vary depending on when our new assignments are ready for us. I just assumed that at the end of training we'd all leave at the same time. If the projected opening date is after our training end date (end of June for me) then we'll get some additional training and maybe even some language training to fill the gap.
I've been going through the list with my wife and daughter as we research the various decision factors. It's hard to put them in order of preference since for us it seems like everything has good and bad about them. There aren't any unaccompanied (no families) locations on the list and I've read elsewhere on the web that there are usually enough tenured volunteers for those locations.
We could probably put everything in the top 5 or 6 of our list as our #1 pick for various reasons. My choices are due Wed so we might tweak it up a little here and there between now and then. The flag day ceremony is the following week on Tue Feb 25th so the first list is a quick process. I'm thinking this short time frame may be a good thing. We'll get a lot more time in later assignments to over analyze and second guess ourselves.
The flag day ceremony (not the national holiday) has everyone in an auditorium with our families watching in the back. We'll each be presented with the flag of our assigned country. It's a nice way to find out where we're going instead of just getting an email or phone call. My next blog post will probably be the big one after flag day.
Daft Punk - Around The World