People often ask me when I decided that I wanted to join the Foreign Service, and the answer is that this first week has truly been a long time comin’. Back as an undergraduate I remember briefly thinking about it in my Intro to International Relations course, but it was in 2006 when I was in graduate school that I started to seriously consider the career. A Diplomat in Residence came to our school and presented on joining the Foreign Service, encouraging all of us to take the exam. This man convinced me that the test was so hard that I would never pass, and my only chance was to test in Consular, which was supposedly the easiest. Thus, even though I wasn’t particularly interested in consular work, I signed up to test in that cone.
In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t listened to him about the test being too hard or testing in Consular, since I think I used this as an excuse to bolster my insecurities. (I also wonder if more women than men left his presentation with the same feelings of insecurity, and I would hazard a guess that he may have talked some of us ladies out of testing altogether.) I ended up passing all three parts of the exam in 2008, but made the very tough decision to end my candidacy. David and I had just gotten married and started new jobs, so the timing seemed all wrong. Also, I wasn’t very keen on consular work.
In 2011 we decided that I should give federal foreign work another shot, so I started to apply for USAID jobs and registered again for the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT), this time in economics. In Jan 2012 I took and passed the Foreign Service Written Exam, later in May I found out that I had passed the Personal Narrative essay questions, and finally on September 20, 2012 I took and passed the Oral Assessment in DC (story here). In Jan 2013 I successfully passed the background check, which placed me on the hiring register. Since we were having so much fun in London, I deferred my acceptance until the January 2014 class.
And so, last week on January 13, 2014 I found myself up bright and early nervously making my way toward the Harry S. Truman Building (aka Main State). Honestly it took until around 2pm for it to sink in that I was finally a Foreign Service Officer (FSO), and I”ll admit that at that moment I started tearing up just a bit.
Many thanks to all my professors, teachers, forensics coaches, FSO mentors, colleagues, friends, and family who helped me get to this point. I am truly grateful for all the encouragement and support I have felt through this entire process. Just know that you have a waiting vacation get-away where ever David and I land!