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  • It’s all about choices. 25 percent is possible. There are assignments where you travel very little if at all. Secretary’s Detail and MSD travel the most. Even in the FO you could just not volunteer for trips. You’d be forced to go on a few for sure. But you could sign up for as few trips and TDYs as possible. That said, why bother to join DS? If you have a spouse that’s going to be ****ed if you’re away it’s going to stressful and ultimately it won’t work out. Plus, you’d be missing out on a lot of the benefits of DS. Most agents have spouses so the idea that it’s only a single person’s game is silly. The divorce rate is actually no higher than in general. The reasons might be different.

    You are correct in that assignments overseas generally do not require much travel if at all. It’s usually a predictable schedule. Obviously a unaccompanied tour is unaccompanied unless you have no kids and then you can sometimes bring your spouse if they score a temp job at the Embassy that are held for spouses.

    The unpredictable nature of assignments can be a stressor. If you always need to know where you’ll be in three years or what school your kids will be at and know that you’ll spend every Xmas at grandmas place then it’s probably not the best choice of jobs. Unlike most jobs you really need your family on board. Like the military in many ways they are serving too. The families that I’ve observed that do the best with the job really go all in with the lifestyle... all of it ..,the good and bad and most importantly the unknown. They embrace it and get into it. The families that it doesn’t seem to work well with are still trying to hold onto their “normal” and then the agent is constantly trying minimize the impact the job has on their lives.
    Last edited by S/A Cupcake; 04-17-2021, 01:02 PM.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by S/A Cupcake View Post
      It’s all about choices. 25 percent is possible. There are assignments where you travel very little if at all. Secretary’s Detail and MSD travel the most. Even in the FO you could just not volunteer for trips. You’d be forced to go on a few for sure. But you could sign up for as few trips and TDYs as possible. That said, why bother to join DS? If you have a spouse that’s going to be ****ed if you’re away it’s going to stressful and ultimately it won’t work out. Plus, you’d be missing out on a lot of the benefits of DS. Most agents have spouses so the idea that it’s only a single person’s game is silly. The divorce rate is actually no higher than in general. The reasons might be different.

      You are correct in that assignments overseas generally do not require much travel if at all. It’s usually a predictable schedule. Obviously a unaccompanied tour is unaccompanied unless you have no kids and then you can sometimes bring your spouse if they score a temp job at the Embassy that are held for spouses.

      The unpredictable nature of assignments can be a stressor. If you always need to know where you’ll be in three years or what school your kids will be at and know that you’ll spend every Xmas at grandmas place then it’s probably not the best choice of jobs. Unlike most jobs you really need your family on board. Like the military in many ways they are serving too. The families that I’ve observed that do the best with the job really go all in with the lifestyle... all of it ..,the good and bad and most importantly the unknown. They embrace it and get into it. The families that it doesn’t seem to work well with are still trying to hold onto their “normal” and then the agent is constantly trying minimize the impact the job has on their lives.
      Thank you so much for your reply. For the record, I love the idea of traveling several times a year, especially to places like Somalia, Iraq, etc. I just don’t want to miss seeing my kids grow up.

      If you don’t mind indulging me, I have one more question - how long is the average “trip”?

      Comment


      • If you take SD, MSD and 1-year assignments out of the conversation the amount of time spent away from family is really not that bad as long as your family is driving your assignment choices. People complain about the travel but in my observation it is usually because they bid on that assignment or volunteered for that trip. Also, the first two years are rough because of training- 7 months of BSAC followed by 3 months of high threat followed by a few details and maybe a TDY. By the time you’ve reached year 2 you’ve been away from the family a lot. But that isn’t representative of your career necessarily unless you bid on assignments like SD, MSD, etc.

        “Trips” in the FO are either protection details (domestic or abroad) or TDYs. Details are usually a week or two. TDYs are usually 30-60 days. There are usually enough volunteers for TDYs so you’d rarely be ordered to go. Details you definitely have to go on - particularly UNGA which happens each year in NY and is a couple weeks.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Jwebb514 View Post

          Thank you so much for your reply. For the record, I love the idea of traveling several times a year, especially to places like Somalia, Iraq, etc. I just don’t want to miss seeing my kids grow up.

          If you don’t mind indulging me, I have one more question - how long is the average “trip”?
          Just to piggy back. You have to be super flexible in this job. My first overseas post my family was there a whole 5 months before authorized departure for coronavius and they were sent back to the states and they did not return to post due to already being enrolled in a school for the year. I will be departing this summer for an unaccompanied post for another year this summer. You can have a family in this job but you all really need to be on board.

          We made the decision as a family to pursue the unaccompanied tour and see how the world shakes out and rolling the dice on nicer post after. SA Cupcake has been spot on with all of the advice he has given.

          My first post was New York Field Office. Everyone put in for the secretary’s detail trips and the TDYs overseas. Also protection was good EER fodder and overtime so some also jumped on that. There was definitely some who would not sign up for anything but you still have to flesh out your yearly EER with something hoping to get tenure at the end of your field office tour.
          Last edited by DSS2501; 04-18-2021, 05:57 PM.

          Comment


          • Jwebb514
            Jwebb514 commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for chiming in. So the unaccompanied tour is a strategic move because it will allow you to have a more favorable assignment afterwards? Interesting.

          • DSS2501
            DSS2501 commented
            Editing a comment
            You can sign up for SIP (Special Incentive Posts) and bid earlier than your colleagues so you have first crack at the more desirable posts/assignments. SIPs are usually unaccompanied one year tours (Some can be 2). They include your AIPs (Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan) and some
            in Africa (Somalia, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic).

            We do not have linked assignments like the rest of the foreign service so this is one of the ways to get in the que first for desirable posts.

            The hire you go up in grade the less assignments there are for that grade level so I am not sure how well the strategy works. Definitely more helpful at the FP-4 and FP-3 level.

        • All informative information. Thanks guys!

          Comment


          • I'm located in the DC area.
            QEP: 6/17/2020
            OA:. 10/7/2020
            MEdical clearance: 10/30/2020
            Security: 01/01/2021
            Suitability: 03/03/2021
            PRT: 04/19/2021

            I just received my notice that I got put on the register today. Have a middle of the road 5.6 score before testing for language.

            Anyone have any new movement with their process? Or have any clue when next classes might open up?
            Last edited by Vipermatusik; 04-21-2021, 07:44 AM.

            Comment


            • Vipermatusik
              Vipermatusik commented
              Editing a comment
              I haven't actually taken the language test yet, I am still brushing up to ensure I get the score I need. The testing is done over the phone. They require different proficiencies depending on the language you are testing for. All the info is on their website here: https://careers.state.gov/faq-items/...-bonus-points/

            • NYC1175
              NYC1175 commented
              Editing a comment
              Vipermatusik so if one can speak a foreign language fluently but doesn't read or write it, they can still get points for language?

            • Vipermatusik
              Vipermatusik commented
              Editing a comment
              From everything I have read online the initial .17 bonus point will be a telephone conversation and then to get higher bonus points in the priority languages there is an in person component. But again I have not taken the test yet.

            • porkchop23
              porkchop23 commented
              Editing a comment
              Vipermatusik I was under the impression that you had to take both a phone test and an in-person test to get points for ANY language, not just the hard ones.

          • User removed duplicate REPLY
            Last edited by Vipermatusik; 04-21-2021, 08:13 AM.

            Comment


            • Anybody know how and when they assign you to your first FO? Do you get a wishlist? Do they tell you before you start the academy or during?

              Comment


              • porkchop23
                porkchop23 commented
                Editing a comment
                I have heard that you get a very short list and rank them and then get your assignment toward the end of training.

            • Originally posted by Jwebb514 View Post
              Anybody know how and when they assign you to your first FO? Do you get a wishlist? Do they tell you before you start the academy or during?
              Unless it’s changed, during the first week of foreign service orientation you will receive a list of available FO assignments equal to the number of people in your class. For example, WFO 6, NYFO 8, LAFO 4, SFFO, 1, etc. You rank order all the offices. If there are only 2, you rank 1 and 2. If there are 6, you rank 1 through 6. You will meet with someone from the career development office and get an opportunity to pitch why you want to go here vs there blah blah. NY and DC generally account for the majority of spots but it varies. I would expect a few available spots in most of the FOs. Be warned - They also tend to NOT place you in a state or city where you live except if you live in DC. Whatever reason you give for needing/wanting to go to Houston/Miami or wherever should probably be a temporary thing that will be resolved in 2 years. Saying my kids like their school or I have horses that need to roam won’t cut it because you sign a worldwide availability statement and they expect you to be available right out of the gate.

              You will receive your assignment on “flag day” which is the second Tuesday I think of orientation. The other specialists in your orientation class - OMSs, GSOs, FMOs, etc. - will get flags from the country they are going to. You get a state flag.
              Last edited by S/A Cupcake; 04-22-2021, 08:58 AM.

              Comment


              • Awesome thank you! If you’re ever back in the States I’m going to send you an Edible Arrangement for all of this helpful info.

                I think DC would be my preference and it sounds like there’s a pretty good chance of ending up there (based on your post and others I’ve read).

                Comment


                • Anybody know if after initial training and domestic FO post if you are required to bid on an overseas post right away, or if you can bid on another domestic assignment? Early days for me as I just passed the OA but was just curious how it works.

                  Comment


                  • Army101
                    Army101 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Ranger07 i dont have an answer to your question, just wanted to see if you can turn your PM on. Trying to send you a PM.

                  • Ranger07
                    Ranger07 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Army101 PMs on now

                • Originally posted by Ranger07 View Post
                  Anybody know if after initial training and domestic FO post if you are required to bid on an overseas post right away, or if you can bid on another domestic assignment? Early days for me as I just passed the OA but was just curious how it works.
                  Bidding out of your initial FO assignment is similar to how you “bid” on your FO while in orientation. Like the FO tour it is actually directed. You are given a list of assignments equal to the number of bidders except this time It will be a mix of domestic and overseas. You have to rank order ALL the assignments. Although in theory you could be sent anywhere on the list most get something in their top third especially if they put domestic assignments and/or high differential overseas posts (posts with high hardship or danger pay) near the top. All the domestic assignments will be DC based except for maybe a NY based US UN protection assignment.

                  Comment


                  • porkchop23
                    porkchop23 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Why are you saying all domestic assignments will be to DC after your first field office assignment? That would seem to make it sound as if field offices and their work ceased to exist after you worked there during your initial assignment, which obviously doesn't match reality. Are you saying that only agents in their first tour work those offices? That would also seem to not make sense since someone would need to supervise them. Could you clarify?

                  • S/A Cupcake
                    S/A Cupcake commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Sorry for the confusion. To clarify. I am saying that there are no FO positions on the ELSPEC list (the bid list you get when you are bidding out of your initial FO). Bidding out of your initial FO is not like bidding after you’ve completed two tours (initial FO + 1 more assignment). As a third tour and beyond it is possible to do a second, third, etc FO or RAC assignment. I’ve done three myself in fact...

                • Once you are on the register, can anyone share what the process is from that point on? Is it just sit around and wait (and hope) for an email inviting you to training?
                  Are there periodic updates from the registrar office the same way there is moving through the BEX process?
                  Any information would be helpful!

                  Comment


                  • Hello, reaching out to agents who can maybe answer this. Going to be doing medical soon, and I noticed a color vision portion of the assessment. I am color deficient and I am really nervous that I will get Disqualified after make it all this way. How many out of 15 ishihara plates do you have to get right to pass?

                    What happens if I failed both the Ishihara and farnsworth, is that game over for me? I find this really frustrating because in the wild, I can differentiate colors. I can point to something in a room and identify it, but on the tests I've done in the past, I just do awful. Any additional information would benefit me. Thank you.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by jpatriot88 View Post
                      Hello, reaching out to agents who can maybe answer this. Going to be doing medical soon, and I noticed a color vision portion of the assessment. I am color deficient and I am really nervous that I will get Disqualified after make it all this way. How many out of 15 ishihara plates do you have to get right to pass?

                      What happens if I failed both the Ishihara and farnsworth, is that game over for me? I find this really frustrating because in the wild, I can differentiate colors. I can point to something in a room and identify it, but on the tests I've done in the past, I just do awful. Any additional information would benefit me. Thank you.
                      I don’t know all the specifics or technical terms but I do know of several candidates who failed the color vision test in the initial screening and then went to a private vision specialist and took a more detailed test and passed. They are all agents now. Don’t take “no” for an answer I guess is the lesson. If you fail any portion of the State administered med screening you can always go to a private doc/second opinion and submit the results.

                      Comment

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