Yes, still recapping…
Soon after starting the A-100 class, new officers get a copy of the bid list. In this case, it’s a list of about 60 cities around the world where the Department of State has an embassy or consulate that needs one or more entry-level officers. The officers are supposed to group the list into three categories: low, medium & high. Low posts are places you don’t want to go, and State usually obliges unless there’s a dire need that nobody else can reasonably fill. High posts are for places you really want to go. Medium are the rest.
We got to put 15 posts in the low category, and 15 in the high category, rest are medium. For us, we had to immediately weed out any posts that either don’t allow our cats, or make it too difficult, with quarantines and/or fees. For example, Jamaica doesn’t allow any pets, unless they’re from the UK. And New Zealand would put our cats in quarantine for weeks and charge thousands of dollars of fees. So, places like that pretty much filled our “Low” group.
Highs were for posts with agreeable weather (Diplowife and I both loathe hot and humid places), and reasonably good Internet (for me to either telecommute, or stay entertained if I’m unemployed the whole time). Diplowife wants to build a career on focusing on places like Eastern Europe and the former USSR, so we put posts like Warsaw, Bucharest, Belgrade, Moscow and Modova in the high group. Also, Shenyang China, because she knows Chinese and it’s pretty cold there. And Paris was high, because, well, Paris.
Information about all these places, some of which I had never heard of, can be found at FSI’s Overseas Briefing Center (OBC) that I mentioned last post. Don’t miss out on this resource! There is a lot of information here, but you can focus on what really matters (in our case, the pet situation), and figure out how to bid in not much time at all.
Before turning in the list, Diplowife and I had a short meeting with her Career Development Officer (CDO), to talk about our bidding strategy. The CDO’s then all get together and hash out who goes where, and they really do the best they can to make as many officers happy as possible. Unhappy officers wind up quitting after a few tours, and nobody wants that. Anyway, don’t miss this meeting! This is your time to speak up for yourself as an EFM and make sure your needs are not ignored.
Personally, I was not at all sure (I’m still not, by the way) what I will do at post. Will I work at the embassy? Work at home? Volunteer? Study and pick up some new skills? Play video games in my pajamas? I figured having reliable Internet would make telecommuting possible, and if I decided to learn new skills that would also be helpful. And let’s face it, I’m pretty unhappy when the Internet’s not there for me. Diplowife and I are in agreement about the weather, we think we can fill a valuable niche in the Foreign Service: the couple that doesn’t mind going to cold, desolate places.
So, we turned in our bid list, and the waiting began for Flag Day, when everybody finds out where they’re going. My job isn’t exactly stimulating these days, so I have a lot of time on my hands, time to get nervous about being sent to some humid inferno with no Internet that doesn’t allow cats. On the other hand, Flag Day isn’t that far off, and our families are coming for the event, so we have that to look forward to! But I may have an ulcer by then.