The foreign service process has already been extremely long, frustrating, exciting and a roller coaster of emotions. So let’s start from the beginning. Towards the end of 2014 my husband (then only boyfriend) and I started looking into the Foreign Service. We researched other peoples’ blogs and job descriptions and details on how everyday life would go. The definition of a foreign service officer (FSO) is a commissioned member of the United States Foreign Service. As diplomats, Foreign Service Officers formulate and implement the foreign policy of the United States. That can mean a number of things. Depending on your post, your assignment, and your specific cone of work, in addition to numerous other factors, daily life can consist of many different things. To join and get to your first assignment consists of a test (FSOT), a series of written essays (PNQs), an in person evaluation with multiple parts (FSOA), medical and security clearance approval, placement on the register, being selected, training (language, job specific, etc.), and then, once all of that is completed, you are off to your first destination.
Knowing all this, knowing it would be a long process to get there, we jumped on it. In addition to J’s desire to serve the U.S. (he’s done that in some capacity for the majority of his adult life), the thought of living abroad and moving and experiencing life all over the world is something many can only dream of. So we went all in. To begin the process, J took the FSOT (foreign service officer test) in February of 2015. I will never forget that day. An unusually warm day for that time of year. I dropped him off to enjoy some brunch on the patio with one of my best friends.
Little did we know that test would start such a huge process. Months after taking it, we found out J passed (with flying colors of course)! Next step was to complete the Personal Narrative Questions (PNQs). These are a series of essays in response to provided questions. We are now into the summer of 2015. Around June/July time frame we find out J has passed the PNQ portion as well and has been invited to Orals (FSOA / in-person interviews) in September of 2015. So we flew to Washington D.C. and J endured all day interviews and tests while I wondered the city. At the end of the day he came back with a tentative offer from the U.S. Department of State to be a foreign service officer. Now we were just pending Medical and security clearances to get on the register (the list people are selected from to become FSOs based on their ranking). Here is where it gets tricky. This process is known to take a while. Security clearances require a lot of work, including talking to everyone you have worked with in every place, city, and/or country. Every place you have lived is vetted as well – past landlords are contacted and, if needed, interviewed. So from September 2015 until now (June 2016) we have been in limbo. Life has gone on, the earth kept spinning. We have taken trips, gotten married, changed jobs, changed apartments, and everything in between. All while waiting. We knew it would be a while, but I’m not sure I was completely prepared for this long of a wait. From the time this started to now, it’s been about an 18 month process. Most job interviews and acceptance happen in a matter of weeks, if not days. So this was a little challenging, frustrating, and just hard. It was hard to be excited about something that may or may not happen, and if it does happen…when? Months? Years?
Then it finally happened. June 13th, 2016, we got the call. We had been added to the list. All the medical and security clearances we had been waiting so patiently for were done. But not only that, we were so high on the list that we were invited to the first training class. September 6th, 2016. Finally. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. This is actually happening, and it’s happening quick. After all this time we only have 90 or so days left in good ol’ Oklahoma. Next will be class in Washington D.C. and we will be packed up and moved there at the beginning of September to begin training. I hope you enjoy following our journey. Let the countdown begin!