Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Medically Cleared for Worldwide Deployment

Remember when I said my excitement was continually building? Well, getting an e-mail informing me of my 'medical clearance for worldwide deployment' certainly didn’t diminish that at all! I knew the medical clearance would be much quicker than the security, but it’s good to know I don’t have any surprise ailments… at least that they tested me for. My wife made the cut also, so we just need to get my son in to his pediatrician, so we can get his paperwork submitted. (The State Department doesn’t do physicals for children under six years old). That’s all for now… my fingers are crossed that I’ll hear back about the security investigation sometime before the new year, even if my brain is skeptical.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Security Investigator Interview

Next step down! I was interviewed by my security investigator this week. I had a stack of paperwork for him, and he went through each page and asked for clarification where necessary. The whole process is pretty painless, for me, but my friends have already started getting calls and a neighbor or two has mentioned meeting my investigator. I don’t have anything to hide, so I’m not concerned, but I’ve read online, and was warned my investigator, that the process is a slow one, so I shouldn’t be expecting anything any time soon. Honestly, although I understand that, and believe it will be awhile… my excitement increases with every step of the process. Oh well, back to waiting for now!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Medical Clearance Exams

Following the suggestion of the interviewers, my wife and I planned to get our medical exams done at the State Department. Apparently that tends to go smoother than having private doctors do it, which makes sense; they do this stuff every day. Our experience started off rocky, with some cancelled appointments, and we ended up with two appointments in one day, instead of the customary two over three days. In the end, however, this turned out to be ideal. We dropped my son off at daycare and drove down to DC for our 8:30 appointment. Traffic was just as horrific as expected, but we made the 60 minute trip in a mere 90 minutes (huzzah!). From there we filled out some paperwork, gave up some bodily fluids, and were released into the world to await our afternoon appointment. This is where the luck kicks in. We both needed chest x-rays… which can conveniently be obtained at one of several walk-in centers within a few blocks of the State Department! Ignoring our still-fasting stomachs, we headed to the nearest center and knocked our x-rays out in about 90 minutes. We grabbed a fancy lunch at the Blue Duck Tavern, and headed back for our afternoon appointments. After what I would call a pretty standard physical, we split up; my wife headed to her evening class in Alexandria, and I headed back home to pick up my little buddy from daycare. I arrived at daycare within minutes of my normal pick up time. Can’t really argue with that! According to the doctor there, we should have our results by sometime late next week.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Oral Assessment

Best news! I successfully passed my Oral Assessment. What a roller coaster! After experiencing what I can only describe as the most intense nervousness I’ve felt in probably two decades (I’m looking at you, 8th grade speech class) the day before my Assessment, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself calm and collected the day of. Living relatively close to DC, I was able to commute down for the day. I took the MARC and DC Metro in arriving almost an hour early to account for any possible delays. There was another IMS hopeful being assessed in parallel to me, which ended up being a blessing, because there were a handful of waiting periods that passed much quicker with some friendly chatting, than they would have staring off into space, second guessing everything. To the interviewers’ credit, the entire OA process is well documented on the Foreign Service website, and I’d say that my experience fit into their description perfectly. Being a history major, I’m no stranger to writing assignments, and I’ve always been good at standardized tests (read: multiple choice). I hate to say the first two sections ‘breezed by’ but I was much more confident in myself for those, than for the third and final part of the test. It turns out, talking is much more ‘real-time’ than typing and clicking radio buttons. The tension built as my interview-mate and I waited… and waited… for our interviewers to come collect us. After the better part of an hour, they came for him, and about one copy of State magazine later (or 10 minutes, if you'd prefer), it was my turn. The interview was as advertised, with the slight variation that there were three people present, two to interview me, and one in training, who was ostensibly observing the interviewers, rather than myself. Having a third person didn’t really matter to me, but maybe on some subconscious level it made me less nervous (maybe it leveled the playing field, since it was back to two on two, in terms of who was observing whom!). Once back in the lobby, we awaited our judgment in a slightly more relaxed atmosphere; after all, it was out of our hands now! After a moderate wait, I was called back in and congratulated on my passing the Oral Assessment and given a number (6.2, which means little to me, other than the pass/fail value, since I have no concept of its statistical significance), a conditional offer, and a new bundle of paperwork to chew through. The rest is fairly uneventful; I emphatically thanked my interviewers, spent some time with security, and started the long trip home.
Next step, security investigations, medical exams, and paperwork, Oh My! On the one hand, I know these are serious steps and can certainly end in terminated candidacies… but the other hand is just dancing around and saying, “Psh! I’m not a terrorist, I’m in great health, and I know how to fill out forms. Piece of cake!”

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Interview Scheduled

Better news! Weeks and months of hard work (ok, just waiting) have successfully landed me on the schedule for an Oral Assessment. Looks like September 24th will be the day of reckoning. The invitation came with a rather terrifying attachment describing the Oral Assessment process. The next step is to start working on what approximately amounts to a mountain of paperwork to be completed and brought to my interview. Fortunately, I remember every place I and all my friends have ever lived, doesn’t everyone? Oh… right… On the plus side, it gives me something to do to feel productive while I wait for my Assessment day, rather than nervously speculating about my failure.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pre-Interview Notification

Good news! I was contact today with a notification that I will be contacted in the future for an Oral Assessment. I was mildly confused why I was receiving an e-mail to prepare me to receive an e-mail (maybe the hiring folks at the Foreign Service are fans of Space Balls?), but I’ll take it! Of course it gave no indication of time frame, so I’m back to waiting.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Application Status Change

Well, it’s official. I at least passed the first round of application reviews. My application status changed today from “Submitted” to "Eligible – Referred to Next Step in Selection Process
.” Although I’m relatively sure this just means I succeeded in meeting the bare minimum requirements listed in the job req, it’s still a piece of positive news. I’m hoping for more good news in the future!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

And so it begins…

My application for the Foreign Service Specialist Information Management position has been submitted. Even though this is just the beginning of the application (and hopefully hiring) process, it still seems like an epoch of sorts. After years of yearning to live and work abroad, I feel like I’ve finally put a foot in the right direction. It’s definitely one thing to talk about possibly working overseas in the future and quite another to hit submit on your application. Having reached the end of the restless waiting for an IMS req to open, and the mind numbing writing and rewriting of application essays; I can’t help but be excited. Of course that excitement will shortly be tested… by the possibility of months of waiting to hear back.

I decided to start this blog, in the off chance someone ever reads it, to let future candidates know how the application process goes. I suppose it will also, if I am eventually accepted into the Foreign Service, serve as a place to post my experiences as an Information Management Specialist. On the flip side, if I’m not accepted, I’ll probably take down the site and never speak of it again! I know this isn’t exactly an original idea, but I enjoyed reading Milestones and IM-worldwide, so here’s to paying it forward.