Most of the Foreign Service blogs I read dislike the bidding process. And while I’ll be happy to know where we’re going in 2012, I can completely understand why so many people don’t like to do it. I wonder how I’ll feel when I have to start lobbying on positions, and I’m glad I don’t have to think about that yet.
So I submitted my second tour bid list today, and since I’ve been a lazy (but busy!) blogger lately, I decided to make up from my recent radio silence and write about the second tour bidding process. Since this has totally been done before, I’ll focus on how this process is different from the A-100 bidding I went through a month ago.
When we got our A-100 bid lists, the timing would work well for most of the posts, and our wonderful Career Development Officers (CDOs) would figure all of that out for us. This time, we have to go through the posts and calculate our valid timing according to the following factors:
Basically, if position start date is in the same month as we’re finishing training, the bid is valid. If the position start date is up to two months after we finish training, or one month before, the bid is imperfect. If the position starts with a further away time window, then it is invalid. So that what we had to figure out for all of the bids we were interested in. If you are in or going to be in A-100, thank your CDOs for figuring all of this stuff out for you!
There were over 350 positions on the Entry Level Officer (ELO) summer bid list. Our A-100 list had 100. Fortunately, we had a few new preferences to help narrow down that list.
1. Consular Position: While my current position in the Consular Affairs Bureau takes care of my obligation to serve in a Consular tour before tenure, I would prefer not to be the mid level Consular Officer who doesn’t know how to do a visa interview, or who’s never had to be the duty officer. That would just feel weird to me.
2. Language Training: Since I’m still on language probation, I need language training (and to pass another language test) before I can be considered for tenure.
So I went through the list, and took off all of the non-consular, non-language positions, plus a few that I just wasn’t interested in, and I got down to approximately 80 positions. After eliminating another 25 or so for invalid timing, I had a semi-reasonable list to start ranking. Let me tell you, that was definitely the hardest part. Chad and I have no kids, pets, or medical needs, so the world was pretty open. My top five hit four different parts of the world, the Middle East, Eastern Asia, Central America, and Europe – South America was well represented on the whole bid list as well.
During A-100, we gave each post a rating of high, medium, and low, and had to submit a bid for every position. For our second tour, entry level officers are required to submit 20 posts in rank order. Ranking was the part I had a really hard time with – there was so much uncertainty! We didn’t a whole lot of extra research (no time!). Many of the places we had researched during A-100, and for some of the others we read the Real Post Reports on Tales From a Small Planet. We’re pretty flexible, and we know that we’ll make the most of wherever we end up. So ranking was done on a completely unscientific, subjective and instinctual basis of interest in learning the language, whether the position seemed cool, and where we think we might enjoy living. So we ranked about 40 positions (back ups are a good idea!), and I’m pretty happy with the end result.
Bid lists are due at open of business tomorrow, so I sent mine to my COD this afternoon. We should find out where we’re going by the end of October (they’re really busy people). Until then, the Great State Wait begins anew!
DisclaimerAll views and opinions expressed on this website are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. State Department (they have their own website...).
- Douglas on Preparing for the Foreign Service Oral Assessment: Part II
- Anuradha Shastry (@runneranu) on The Foreign Service is Plan B
- Anuradha Shastry (@runneranu) on Studying for the FSOT (how I did it)
- kristel on My Statement of Interest for the Foreign Service
- Joel on FSOT Score Breakdown