Sunday, September 6, 2009

It begins . . .

The starting entry on a blog (my first) is an awkward bit, so I'll just get into it. I've signed up for the foreign service, starting the A-100 course on 10/26. Let's hear it for the Fighting 149th! The intent is to use this blog to track the foreign service life, assuming I muster the discipline to post on this thing. But I gather the diplomat's life is an interesting one, so I should post just enough to keep friends and family up to date. I also hope to enlighten those interested in the foreign service, who may or may not be obsessively scanning the googlespace for any hint or detail about becoming - and life as - a Foreign Service Officer.

But first the story thus far. Up until a week ago I was one of those obsessive scanners. The foreign service is something I considered first back in high school. Since then I stumbled my way through college, with some interludes as a bike messenger, movie projectionist, and a few tours in the Army. (enlisted, 96B, SFOR and OIF for those in the know). Somehow I manged to get my butt into law school. From there I got caught up in the stampede to white-shoe law firm jobs (aka BIGLAW), and found myself in a nice office for a respected firm in L.A. as a litigation associate. Hated it. Got out, looking for public sector work. Took the foreign service test, not for the first time, and passed. In the year plus from taking the written test to today, I took up a job as a prosecutor for the Los Angeles DA's office. They might not be happy to learn that I will be leaving them shortly, but for now what they don't know won't hurt em.

I might post later on the selection process, but for now I commend to the reader the Guide to the Foreign Service Exam at thehegemonist. There are also yahoo groups for those waiting to take the FSOT (the written test), the FSOA (the oral test), and for those waiting to be invited into an entering A-100 class (the orientation course for all FSOs). For the record, I took the FSOT back in July 2008, and was invited to the FSOA in February 2009. I passed with a 5.9, plus an additional .175 for veteran's preference. A great score, but it was my second crack at the orals. I think knowing what to expect put me at an advantage. The score put me pretty high on the political register, but still one must patiently wait until the security and medical clearances are granted. I patiently waited until August 31, 2009, when I finally finally FINALLY got "the call."

Now it's more hurry up and wait. They're in the process of determining my salary, which takes into account education and years of professional experience. They will also match your salary to a point, but they won't go over the salary for a step 14 in your particular grade. I should be getting a FedEx sometime after labor day chock full of paper work. Until then I have a birthday party to go to tonight. No trials set for the week, so it'll be pretty light at work.

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