Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The Entry Level/Untenured Officer Bid List Is Out
Well, it has been out for four days now, or to be more exact, 113 hours and 49 minutes from when Alan heard the email arrive in the middle of the night. The instructions arrived on August 19th, so we knew the bid list would be out in a few days. Last Friday morning at 4:30AM, Alan tapped on my shoulder and said "the bid list just arrived." It felt like being woken for Christmas morning, and I promptly rolled back over to sleep. After another tap, "it's here," I finally jumped up to take a look.
The bidding experience for our next assignment is very different than the first in A-100. There are over 450 jobs on the list with many more factors to consider. The most constraining factor is timing. You have to have a certain number of bids that fit the available time between when you leave post and when the next job starts, with that available time used for home leave, language training and functional training. If you have gaps of open time or not enough time to do all the required home leave and training, then a job is not valid for your list. So you may not be eligible for many of those dream jobs on the list.
Also, the people currently posted to high hardship and danger posts get first dibs at jobs. Luckily, Kolkata is a 25% hardship and a 5% historically-difficult-to-staff post, so we will be assigned in the first of two rounds. Those at posts with less hardship will have a much more limited list to choose from.
The last four days have been full of strategy, research and refining lists. We were able to quickly narrow the list down based on: language training, working at an embassy (versus a consulate) and a possible rotation out of consular for a broader understanding of the foreign service. This brought the list down to about 90 jobs. We then evaluated which of those jobs had the correct timing, and then did research on those locations by looking at the posts' intranet websites, Post Info to Go on the OBC website (intranet only) and Tales from a Small Planet's Real Post Reports.
Before we got the list, we had been discussing our next post choices for a while, throwing out scenarios to understand what would be a good fit. But now that we have the actual list in hand, our choices will be nowhere near what we had discussed before. There are a lot of great jobs on the list and it looks like we will have at least 20 that we will be happy with. The hard part is the waiting. We have until September 8th to turn in our choices and do not know the date when we will learn our actual assignment. The excitement and anxiety is on the rise again and this will happen every two to three years!