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  • S/A Cupcake
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Jwebb514
    replied
    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”?

    Leave a comment:


  • S/A Cupcake
    replied
    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; Yesterday, 01:02 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Jwebb514
    replied
    Originally posted by S/A Cupcake View Post
    I am a current DS Agent posted overseas. I don't post much but I'd be happy to entertain any questions. I've been on close to 20.
    Can you give me some idea of about how much time (after the initial training) I would spend away from my family as a DS agent doing details, TDYs, etc. I could definitely do probably 25-30% of my time traveling, but wouldn’t want to do much more than that. The first few pages of this thread (from 2007) make it sound pretty incompatible with any sort of a family life. I’m hoping things have changed since then.

    Also, would it be safe to say you spend more time with your family overseas at an embassy than at a domestic FO? (I assume there’s not as many TDYs once you’re already overseas?)

    Any other thoughts on family life in general would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!

    Leave a comment:


  • NYC1175
    commented on 's reply
    FlashTACP so you were selected to do the BEX/OA but never notified? Do you suggest we email them?

  • FlashTACP
    commented on 's reply
    Just FYI, I never even got a “QEP” email. I followed up with them and they told me then. They also advised me to pay for myself out to DC to conduct the board. I’m glad I did that, because I am now in the final stages, and honestly I don’t think they have even traveled to the Dallas or Houston office for interviews.

  • Razor1775
    commented on 's reply
    I'm surprised it's taken 10+ weeks to go through the minimum qualifications review, or someone failed to send out the emails when the minimum qualifications review was done.

  • NYC1175
    commented on 's reply
    Same boat. No news yet. I suspect you're right about covid pushing things back.

  • porkchop23
    commented on 's reply
    Same - nothing. I imagine COVID has pushed back QEP and my projection is that results of it could come out as late as August or September.

  • Anthropologist
    commented on 's reply
    Nothing since January from DSS.

  • NYC1175
    replied
    Has anyone who applied to the most recent announcement heard anything yet? My last communication was the "you've met or exceeded the cutoff" email back in Jan.

    Leave a comment:


  • S/A Cupcake
    commented on 's reply
    Spousal Accommodations/Tandem Couples:

    Your spouse would need to be employed by a "foreign affairs agency" in order for you to be deemed a "tandem" for bidding purposes, e.g. State, USAID, et al. For planning purposes and to manage expectations, your spouse should know that your first two assignments are directed. That means you don't really "bid". Rather, you get a list of positions that equals the number of ELO (entry level officers) bidders. You rank order every available spot and you can't lobby. After your second tour, you'll bid normally. As a tandem, you will identify posts that have positions open for both of you and YOU lobby for those positions. It's not an accommodation per se. It's largely up to you and your spouse to coordinate. The assignment panel will take into consideration your tandem status and try to keep you together. Assuming there are open spots for both of you and you are competitive for that assignments it will usually work out...eventually. You can't "pick" your assignment though.

    CI

    There are not official separate "career tracks" in DS in the sense that you officially specialize in one area. In fact, it is discouraged and could negatively impact promotability. The party line is you are suppose to have a mix of overseas and domestic assignments of increasing responsibility....insert air quotes here. That said, agents do often gravitate towards one of the DS area of responsibility - protection (SD, DP, PII), Investigations (FO, OSI, CI, ARSO-I), traditional RSO work (2 and 3 year ARSO/RSO assignments), High Threat (Iraq, Afghanistan, MSD, etc.), and Various HQ offices that support the various functional offices - but again it is officially discouraged.
    Last edited by S/A Cupcake; 03-31-2021, 10:30 PM.

  • Badger99
    commented on 's reply
    S/A Cupcake How adept is DSS at granting spousal accommodations for those with spouses working in other USG agencies? Even as a new agent can you get an early overseas assignment right off the bat as a spousal accommodation.

    Also, what are the opportunities like for working in counterintelligence with DSS? Is that seen as a desireable career area at DSS? Thanks!!

  • Badger99
    commented on 's reply
    As an applicant, to what NYC1175 hinted at it's the unique blend of being a federal agent & a diplomat. I'm not necessarily putting DSS above the others and I'm basically considering all of them, but I am heavily interested in DSS and for me living abroad is an attractive aspect of the job.

    Also, years ago I interned in undergrad with an affiliated DSS office, and it was a positive experience for me. I actually interviewed with DSS to be a Special Agent out of undergrad, but in my view I just did not have the life & professional experience to get past that stage.

  • S/A Cupcake
    commented on 's reply
    SD and MSD are not hard to get at all. Both are usually on the bid list coming out of the first FO assignment. In fact, I've seen a few people get "directed" to SD when they don't have enough bidders. I am so confident that I will go on record and say that if you get hired I can GUARANTEE that you can get on either SD or MSD within a tour or two.

    You will get overtime on most if not all protection assignments. Only FSO generalists become ineligible for OT after tenure. Specialists stay eligible. They eventually cap out around FS2 step 7 I think but you are not ineligible per se.

    Speaking of money, Ignore the starting salaries listed on USA Jobs for DS. Between LEAP, locality and OT and with a medium level of ambition, most will make over 100K their first full year out of training, especially agents in NYFO and WFO where protection makes up a significant portion of your work load.
    Last edited by S/A Cupcake; 03-30-2021, 02:52 PM.

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