It’s been a few weeks since I learned that I will not be attending the September 8th A-100 orientation class for the Foreign Service after all. For the last class of this fiscal year, only 3 or so public diplomacy candidates I know of received offers. Despite my ranking of 7/103 (probably higher now!), I did not. This post should serve as a PSA to fellow Foreign Service hopefuls out there- it is much more competitive to become a US diplomat than you think! Hiring is really tough at the moment even if you pass every step along the way like I have. You can’t be 100% sure of a job until you receive the official offer, and it will be 28 days before the class starts, to boot 🙂
That being said, I am disappointed but not devastated. The Foreign Service will happen for me when the time is right- most likely in early 2016! If hiring stays around attrition like it has this year, I should get an offer before expiring off the register in December 2016. This gives me a shot at all the fiscal year 2016 classes- I’m especially hopeful that the January 2016 class will be larger and I will get an invite.
Until then, I am so excited to share that I’ll be teaching English at a girls school near Bangkok, Thailand with CIEE! I start in mid-October. My placement is in Nakhon Pathom province, about an hour outside of Bangkok: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thailand/bangkok/nakhon-pathom. Here is one of the tallest pagodas in Thailand right in the middle of my new home:
In my view, English teaching is one of the US’s best forms of public diplomacy. I get to develop my public speaking and presentation skills, gain international experience, and live in Southeast Asia for the first time in my life. I can’t think of a better experience to have before joining the Foreign Service, whenever that may be!
Life has been in flux since May 16, 2015- my official graduation date from Rice University. A few months on, it has not really hit me yet that I will not be returning to Rice as a student this fall. Instead I’ll probably be starting my dream career as a Foreign Service Officer! I had sort of planned things for the summer like spending time with family at home and visiting Eastern Europe, but had backups in case the Foreign Service took a year or more to offer me a job. Happily, I’ve been on the public diplomacy register since June 8.
I am currently waiting on the State Department to issue invitations for the next A-100 (orientation) class starting September 8. At around number 5 of 100 public diplomacy candidates, I am really hoping for an offer within the next month or so! However, anyone who knows me will know that I really can’t sit still and just wait at home in Texas until September. I have worked to keep myself busy over the summer, searching for a few opportunities that will help when I start work as a diplomat.
One of my favorite involvements this summer has been getting to work as a camp counselor/unit leader for the past month at Camp Mitre Peak, a Girl Scout Camp not far from Big Bend National Park. In my work with public diplomacy, I hope to be significantly involved with gender equality and girls empowerment- working with Girl Scouts was perfect preparation for this. I loved the girl power environment at camp and sharing my love of hiking and backpacking.
Camp Mitre Peak
In exactly a week, I’m also leaving for a monthlong trip to Eastern and Central Europe! This trip is basically including all the countries I didn’t have time to visit during study abroad- like Poland, Slovenia, and Croatia. 3/4 of the weeks I’ll be backpacking around from hostel to hostel, then the last week I will take part in the Model NATO Youth Summit in Riga, Latvia. Model NATO was something I applied for on a whim and now have the incredible opportunity to represent the US delegation. It will involve lots of Europe policy and youth engagement, also major areas I plan to work in during my Foreign Service career. To say I’m excited for this trip is quite an understatement!!
This summer has been a bit surreal. Honestly, I had expected to join the Peace Corps right after Rice. I certainly didn’t think I would get into the Foreign Service on my first try and as a right-out-of-college graduate. Now that it is happening much sooner than that, I am so incredibly excited and lucky.