Saturday, August 25, 2007

Slowly, Some Clarity

I am making some headway with the bidlist. There are some interesting desk positions that are pretty much at the top of my list (Serbia, Albania, Croatia) plus some analyst positions in that same area and in the Israel/Occupied Territories/Jordan area. I can't bid the analyst positions as "core bids," of which I need six, because core bids must be in cone and at grade. In cone means they must either be Public Diplomacy jobs (which is my cone) or Interfunctional. At grade for me means they need to be at the FS 03 grade (I am actually a grade lower than that, an FS 04 (lower numbers are higher ranks), but because I got tenure, I can bid 03 positions as core bids). So the analyst positions can be considered in cone because they are interfunctional, but they are FS 02. I can bid on them, but they won't count as one of the six bids I have to have. The desk jobs will, though.

Other jobs I am considering are slots on the nuclear task force (which would get me a year of Russian) and a position as the Deputy Director of PD Tradecraft, the PD training course.

And, the add a little something interesting to the mix, I spotted a job in academia that I would LOVE to have. It is an assistant professor of anthropology specializing in the archaeology of southeastern American Indians. The applicant needs to have experience in researching race, class and gender (I do), experience in public archaeology (I do), and have PhD in hand by August 2008 (insha'allah, I will). The timing of the job would even allow me to finish my job in INR so I don't have to leave them short-handed.

So who knows? Many possibilities.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It Didn't Help

The waiting is over...the bid list is out. So now I have verification of the jobs I thought would be there. And just as I thought, there are some really interesting ones. Too many. Not sure what to do.

I don't have to have my bids in until October, but I need to lobby for the jobs I want in the meantime.

And then of course, wait....until as late as January....for my assignment.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007


I swear that sometimes (okay, a lot of the times), the State Department seems like a hurry up and wait sort of place. It starts before you join. You sign up for the written exam and then you wait to take it. You take it and wait to get the results (3 months I think for me). You get the results and then wait for the oral assessment (seven months). You pass the oral assessment and wait to get your medical and security clearances (mine took 2 1/2 months, but only because I have had a boring life! Some take 2 years!). Once you get your clearances, you wait for "the call" to join an A-100 (the orientation class). Depending on your score, that could happen quickly (I got an offer almost immediately, declined it and took the offer for the next class) or you could wait 18 months, not get an offer, and have to start all over again.

Then you wait for the bid list, wait for your assignment, wait for tenure, wait for promotion, wait for your bid list again. It is an OCD's worst nightmare.

And so here I am, less than a week after getting tenure and I am in the holding pattern for not one but two things...promotion and bidding. Promotion I will find out about around Octoberish. The bid list is due out next week. It is weird to be bidding so soon after starting an assignment, but my position in INR Watch is only for one year, and so it goes. Getting tenure opens up all kinds of options for me, because before tenure, you are only eligible to receive one full course of language (I got Hebrew...useful only in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, neither of which I want to bid on after living in J'lem for more than 2 years).

Now I can bid on almost anything at my grade, since I am now considered a mid-level officer (no longer a Junior Officer! Woo hoo!), including language. But what to do? There are some interesting Public Diplomacy (PD) jobs (my career cone is PD), but there are also some desk jobs. I just found out a friend is going to be the Deputy Office Director for Western Europe, and I wouldn't mind working for him. The guy I did my bridge assignment for in NEA/PD (Near East Affairs Public Diplomacy) is now handling PD in DC's South Central Asia (SCA) office, and he was great to work for. There are analyst positions in INR, which would be lots of fun, and then there are any number of overseas posts offering a year of language training before you go to post. This might be my chance to get Russian.

So bidding this time could be fun. Of course, once I bid, it could be as late as January before I actually get my assignment locked in...Sigh.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I Got It!

The tenure cable finally came out. I'm tenured!!

Tenuring Troubles

Yes, I am still waiting. Impatiently. I have been refreshing the ALDACS cable que every few minutes. And sometimes it won't refresh. Maybe between me and all my A-100 classmates, we have broken it.

Like I said before, lots of really good officers don't get it the first time around, and largely for reasons beyond our control. I think that is one of the most frustrating things about this process. They could deny you tenure the first time for not going to Iraq, or not doing our consular work, or doing too much consular work, or having only one boss or not getting a hard language...and we have zero say in whether we get any of that. Our first two tours are directed, completely at the will of the Career Development Officers (CDOs). And yet this decision is made as though we had some part in the decision-making process.

One of my classmates suggested they just tenure everyone who did a good job, since they know they will eventually anyway. A part of me suspects they don't do that because they need to be able to direct people to Iraq or passport duty, and they can't really force tenured officers to go.

The longer it takes, the more edgey I get. It got worse last week when several of my classmates, all of whom I consider good officers deserving of tenure, got emails from their CDOs saying they had been passed over for tenure this time. I am cautiously optimistic because I got an email from my CDO saying I would NOT be getting such an email from her office.

But you never know until the cable is out.

I think I'll go refresh the queue again.

Friday, August 03, 2007


I have been trying to convince myself that I didn't care if I got tenure this time around. In the State Department, tenure is basically the same as in academia. If you have it, it is really really hard to fire you. So its job security basically.

You get considered for tenure at the first tenure board that meets after your 3-year anniversary of service. That was March 4 for my class, and the next tenure board met in late May/early June. But it takes a while, usually a couple of months, for the results to come out.

And for most of that time, I haven't given it a second thought. But now that the tenure cable is due any time now, I can think of little else. In my head, I know that it is quite likely I won't get it the first time around. You have to get it within your first five years or they kick you out, but having what the boards want is like shooting at a moving target. So some of the best officers I have served with did not get tenure the first time around and it had nothing to do with them. Some boards don't give tenure to folks who had long-term language training, some only give it to those with long-term training. And some people just have the misfortune of having bosses who couldn't write their way out of a paper bag, much less do a good job on an EER. So it is a crap shoot.

But that said, I know if I don't get it the first time around, I am going to take it personally. I shouldn't. I know I shouldn't. But I will. And what will be even more depressing is that those who get tenure this time get to go up for promotion immediately. But the promotion board, unlike the tenure board, only meets once a year. Sigh.