H graduated from FS training today. Since I’m off on Fridays I was able to attend with the boy. H’s career mentor and good friend Bob joined us. He was instrumental in helping her network within the USAID community and to get her to where she is today, and he was excited to attend. In fact, when H was going through the FS hiring process, we were debating two ways we could make this next step, and had dinner with Bob and his wife and discussed our options: 1. through the FS application process that H was already in through, or 2. through the Foreign Service Limited program, which gives GS-13’s the ability to join the Foreign Service in critical needs posts and then segue into FS. H was already through the FS process at the time so that was the sure thing. Alternatively, she could wait a year, earn her GS-13 promotion, then try to go for a Limited appointment. The Limited appointment is riskier but has a greater financial payoff. Bob and his wife, a former USAID Mission Director, gave us some great insight and a fresh perspective at the 30,000 foot level. Here’s a quick synopsis of their advice: While the Limited route would offer greater payoffs, it’s a greater risk and there is no guarantee that H would get in that way. On the other hand, she was already in and this career track had a lower acceptance rate (~2% by our calculations) than the most selective US universities. Additionally, if H’s goal is to work her way up to Mission Director someday, she would need to meet time-in-grade benchmarks, anyway, so the extra money from the Limited pathway would be the only advantage…otherwise, it is just a risky proposition and, as former Peace Corps volunteers, we know how to save money so even if I have trouble finding work, we could still live well and save money (we think).
Anyway, the ceremony was at USAID’s HQ at the Ronald Reagan Building (RRB). A few other couples brought their small children so I wasn’t the only one with a child in tow. S was pretty rambunctious and a little loud, and one of the speakers (the USAID Deputy Administrator…<smacks forehead>) gave S a shoutout in his closing remarks when talking about how he knows when he’s been speaking too long. It was a great ceremony, though. H received her certificate of completion of her FS training and we all went out to a happy hour/lunch celebration afterward. This is DC, after all, so there was no doubt that happy hour was on the post-ceremony agenda. My number one worry with FS is how/where I will find work, and some of H’s colleagues assured me that if I want to work, the mission/embassy will most likely be able to find me something to do. Whether or not I’m paid at the rate I’m making now is to be determined, but I’m hopeful that they are correct. I’ll likely have some posts on that experience once we find out where we are going and when we are at post(s).
I surprised H with dinner at a local restaurant with a bunch of our friends, including one who now lives in NYC and just happened to be in town that weekend. We had a great time and we are excited for when we find out our post! We submitted our “wish list” a few days prior to graduation so we will see what we get. Now we just wait as H gets back to work in her old office while we await placement.
Someday I’ll get around to accompanying these posts with actual pictures instead of stuff I cobble together from the internet.