Friday, October 4, 2013

On The Register!

I'm officially on the register!  This simple little exclamation means I'm on the waiting list for an orientation class to become a Foreign Service Specialist with the State Department.  More specifically, I'm waiting to become an Information Management Specialist (IMS).  If you're wondering what an IMS is then you can read the full details on the State Department's job announcement page. The vacancy for new applicants opens up one or more times a year so sign up for the email updates if you're interested.  There are a variety of specialties available to become a Foreign Service Specialist (FSS) or Foreign Service Officer (FSO). Here's the summary for my IMS specialty:
The U.S. Department of State is the lead foreign affairs agency formulating and implementing the President’s foreign policy and representing the interests of the United States throughout the world. The Department carries out this mission at over 270 embassies and consulates around the world, offices in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area and other locations in the United States.
Foreign Service Information Management Specialists (IMS) are responsible for the Department’s Information Resource Management programs and Information Technology (IT) systems world-wide. The work is diverse and challenging. At overseas posts, IMS manage both staff supporting these programs and perform hands-on duties themselves. IMS provide customer support, knowledge management, application support, and manage a world-wide telecommunications network, computer networks, telephone systems, radio networks, and the Diplomatic Pouch and Mail program. At embassies and consulates abroad, IMS are expected to perform other duties, such as supporting visits of high-level officials, including the President of the United States, in support of U.S. foreign policy.
Department of State Foreign Service IMS must have the ability to adapt to changing cultural and physical environments, work with differing levels of technology, follow developments and innovations in the IT field and successfully apply emerging technology solutions to the art of diplomacy.
This is the type of work I know I'll enjoy doing along with the opportunity to live abroad while I do it!  I'm starting this blog as a place for the personal side of my upcoming career change and travels. This is setup to share with family and friends back home as well as new foreign service friends along the way.  I won't share much about the job itself except the usual things other prospective foreign service employees want to see like the timeline for processing.

Processing Timeline

My own timeline was pretty fast compared to other timelines I've seen.  I think it helped that I'm a current federal employee with an active clearance and already live here in the DC area where the State Department is located.  We were required to go to the State Department's medical office for evaluation so it was a one-stop shop providing the clearances after they personally saw us for our physicals and tests.  Applicants outside the DC area see their own doctors and the State's medical office reviews the results so that adds some time.  Additionally, my security investigation was mostly a local area reinvestigation of my existing clearance so it may have been easier to process. They still interviewed most people I know here but that's what they do every 5 years to maintain my clearance anyway. Here's my timeline so far:
  • Vacancy Announcement Closed - Apr 10, 2013
  • Passed Qualification Evaluation Panel (QEP) - Jun 24, 2013
  • Scheduled for Oral Assessment (OA) - Jul 5, 2013
  • Passed OA (Conditional Job Offer) - Aug 9, 2013
  • Medical Clearance Complete - Sep 17, 2013
  • Security Clearance Investigation Complete - mid Sep, 2013
  • Security Clearance Adjudicated - late Sep, 2013
  • Final Review Panel - late Sep, 2013
  • Added to the IMS Register - Oct 2, 2013
  • Job Offer/Training Assigned - TBD (edit: Dec 2, 2013)
  • Orientation/Training Begins - TBD (edit: Feb 10, 2014)

Ramble On

I served 20 years in the Air Force and I'm definitely looking forward to getting back to the nomadic lifestyle and rambling on around the world.  That's why this blog is called Ramble On FSS... of course basing it on a Led Zeppelin song with lyrics referencing Lord of the Rings doesn't hurt either.  :-)

Led Zeppelin – Ramble On

Leaves are falling all around, It's time I was on my way.
Thanks to you, I'm much obliged for such a pleasant stay.
But now it's time for me to go. The autumn moon lights my way.
For now I smell the rain, and with it pain, and it's headed my way.
Sometimes I grow so tired, but I know I've got one thing I got to do...

Ramble On, And now's the time, the time is now, to sing my song.
I'm going around the world, I got to find my girl, on my way.
I've been this way ten years to the day, Ramble On,
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams.

Got no time for spreading roots, The time has come to be gone.
And to our health we drank a thousand times, it's time to Ramble On...


  1. Hello Jeff,

    Do you think having your clearance before applying helped you get selected?

    Thank you for your time

  2. No, having a clearance didn't matter for selection. I had to go through State's clearance process and they wouldn't transfer over my active clearance from DoD.

  3. Wow, your timeline seems really fast, which must have been nice. I'm starting orientation July 13, 2015 for the FMO vacancy that closed in June, 2013.

  4. Michael, my timeline was pretty fast and it does sound like 1-2 years is more normal for getting into this career.

  5. Hi, thank you for such an informative and entertaining blog.

    I'm an IMS aspirant, missed out OCT 2015 by .25 on the OA. I did not meet the cut-off for the Job Knowledge (Quiz) section. Do you have any recommended reading list for this? How did you prepare for it?
    Thanks again.

  6. Hi Michael. I was recently selected to be an Information Management Specialist. I will be scheduling my Oral Assessment next week. I am retired Navy and I have a Master's degree in IT Management. I was hoping you could tell me what to expect from the Oral Assessment and if there is anything I can do to prepare for the assessment. I was contemplating taking the Foreign Service Officer test but I did not do well with the practice test. After orientation, do you get a list of places to choose from or do they assign you to a certain location? Any information you could provide would help tremendously.

    Michael Halford

  7. Do you have any idea how many names were on the register when you were selected for orientation? I am currently on the register for the FM specialty but they won’t tell me how many people are on the list. I’m trying to get a feel for how long the list may be.