I think there are two kinds of people in the Foreign Service: the ones who knew from the cradle that they were destined to be a diplomat and the rest of us who think "Sweet! How the hell did they let me in here?!" (followed closely by, "Oh my god, I hope they don't figure out they weren't supposed to let me in here!")
NoDoubleStandards has a great piece over at Muttering Behind the Hardline about how he got into the Foreign Service by accident. I can't wait for Part II.
My story is kind of similar. I managed to get my B.A., M.A. (both from a state school) and start a PhD (from a much better state school) before I ever heard of the Foreign Service. I thought diplomats were only people the President appointed.
Then my wife registered to take the test. And promptly decided to blow it off. No, I said, take it. It will give you more options. So she took it. And passed.
Then the orals came along, and she was thinking of blowing that off too. No, I said. We'll make it a weekend in DC, have fun, do the tourist thing.
And then she passed that too.
Time passed and we didn't think any more about it. I didn't know about the A-100 yahoo group, so we had no means of obsessing. We just continued with our lives.
And then they sent her an offer to join an A-100.
Oh crap. Now what do we do?
I know...let's just see how it goes.
So she joined. And we quickly realized that this would make it hard for us as a couple, because at the time, same-sex partners weren't on orders, couldn't get dip passports or protections, couldn't get EFM jobs, etc.
Oops. Now what?
Maybe I'll take the test.
I'm still working on my PhD, but we don't want to be apart for our whole careers, so we should start working towards it now. Because the test takes a while. So she started in March of 2002 and I took the test around October or so after seeing the cool folks she worked with. I figured I'd fail the first time since lots of folks lots smarter than me fail it many times. In fact, while I was testing, someone told me about a guy who had taken the test TEN times before he got in. Hmmm...not sure I am that dedicated. (There was also a girl there who worred that she didn't know what she would do if she failed because she had been preparing to be a diplomat for her whole life. I think she was about 12).
I thought I did okay on it. I mean, I had to do better than the guy who, upon learning that no, Clarence Thomas WASN'T the first black Supreme Court Justice, declared that how should he know ancient history anyway! In January, while I was in Azerbaijan for Christmas with my wife, I learned I passed, barely in enough time to agree to take the orals. The orals were scheduled from February through July. They gave me a date in July.
That's fine, because I still needed to teach field school that summer. So I didn't think much more about it (except I did take a prep session that was offered at my University).
Again, I thought folks lots smarter than me had failed the orals, but it would be good experience for when I was closer to being finished with my degree and therefore could more easily join my wife overseas.
And then I passed that. With a pretty high score. Meaning I'd get an offer quickly once my clearances came through. But of course the clearances take a long time, right? A couple years for my wife. So I have plenty of time to work on my degree.
And the security clearances took 2 1/2 months. My medical clearance took longer. My November, I was on the register and being offered a slot in the January A-100. Of course, I already had paid for a ticket to go back to Azerbaijan to spend Christmas with my wife.
So I declined.
And then I got an offer for March. That one, I accepted.
So here I am, six years later in a job I totally fell into. One I hadn't heard of a decade before. One I wouldn't have had I not talked my wife into going ahead and testing. One I had never intentionally prepared for but ended up being very prepared for (degrees and careers in Journalism and Anthropology are pretty good prep for a PD officer). And one that I really love.
Your turn. What brought you here?
Most Head Shakingly Bad Thing of the Week
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