Our FS Timeline

Joining the Foreign Service took me several years, which is typical. As one friend said, “It’s like you’re playing ‘Red Light! Green Light!’ with your life!”

At no point did Jen and I felt settled about committing our family to this journey… but at each major decision point, we felt confident enough to keep going. For those considering joining the FS, this timeline may be a useful benchmark, as may be the WorldwideNP’s timeline, and this comparison from 16 years ago..

Part 1: Getting in – Portland, Oregon

2019, Spring: Meet friendly and charming reps from the US Foreign Service at a job fair, who plant the seed in my mind.

2019-2021 Research, discuss, debate, mull, daydream, attend webinars and info-sessions, meet with diplomats, connect with current and former FS families, write and rewrite my application essays.

2021, March 9: Apply.

Early April: I’m referred for “additional consideration,” meaning my application didn’t get rejected for an uncrossed T, or undotted i.

July 19: After 3 months of no contact, I’m notified that I’ve passed the quality evaluation panel, or “QEP.”

August 13: Receive invitation to Oral Assessment (Virtual rather than in DC, due to COVID-19 precautions)

September-October: more webinars, hire the best career/interview coach there is.

October 25-26: Take the Virtual Foreign Service Oral Assessment from my basement… I pass with a score placing me in the top tier! I sign a conditional job offer. A deluge of paperwork follows. (I can’t say much about the OA, because I signed and swore that I wouldn’t – the State Department keeps this part of the recruiting process under wraps… but I can report that it was intense, and I did not expect to have to dodge lasers.)

November 23: Submit my security clearance packet. Weeks later, medical clearance, too.

December 28: Interview with security investigator. Thorough!

2022, February 3: Security clearance and medical clearance done! (Though I didn’t actually find out they were done until March 1.)

March 3: I’m notified that I’m on “the Register,” the list of hirable, cleared, Foreign Service candidates. Getting to this point means I’ve filtered through 6 different winnowing processes: initial application approval, QEP, OA, medical clearance, security clearance, and Final Suitability. The Register is rank ordered by score, so final job offers start from the top of the list and move down, 3-4 times per year.

May 5: Get my final job offer, and invitation to an orientation class starting July 5th!!!

Part 2: Training – Washington, DC

June 4: Last day at the old job

June: Paperwork and Panic

July 5: Orientation Day 1 + Swearing in + Get initial bid list (a whirlwind day!)

August 9: FLAG DAY!!! Found out that I’m assigned to Kyrgyzstan

August – September: Training (very short by FS standards, because we already know how to do our jobs, and we don’t get language training)

Part 3: Our First Post – Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

October: Arrive at post. This is where we’ll be for the next 2 years or so. Family-wise, it’s time to settle in. Career-wise, the next steps are getting tenured then promoted… I have a few years to achieve these, but if I don’t, I’ll be “separated” from the Foreign Service.

2023, Spring: 2nd-tour “Bid List” will come out!

Part 4: Our Second Post

2024, Summer: I wonder?