I got some of the best news of my life today in the middle of a hike with my family in Canyonlands National Park! After passing the Orals in January and waiting on clearances all spring, I found out I have been added to the public diplomacy register as number 5 out of 100 candidates.
We’re on a family vacation to the western US national parks and I have had less opportunity and Internet access to obsess over FS related things. I’ve been calling diplomatic security about every 1.5 weeks, and every time they told me my case was still in investigations. I had prepared myself for several more months of waiting to be cleared.
This time things happened quickly yet again- I have had a clearance since June 3rd, passed final suitability sometime after, and was added to the register on June 8th! Interestingly, they don’t really notify you at all about this except for a physical letter in the mail- I would’ve had to wait until we got home from the trip to find out if I hadn’t emailed HR first.
Now that I’m on the register, I am able to be offered an invitation to the next A-100 orientation class in DC. If hiring for this year continues as planned, I’ll be moving to DC for the September 8 orientation!! I’m entirely too excited right now that this dream career I’ve had for so long is really happening.
Things in my life apparently tend to happen all at once- Saturday I graduated from Rice University, Sunday I moved out of college, and this morning I found out I passed the State Department’s German phone test for language bonus points!
My oral assessment score will now be raised to a 5.77, with .17 bonus points added to my original 5.6. This puts me in an amazing position to get an offer for the next A-100 orientation class once I get my security clearance. I’m really hoping that will be in time for the proposed September 8th class later this year! Of course, it’s hard if not completely impossible to know how long the clearance should take. I’m still pending with the investigations unit, but the person on the phone I spoke to seemed to think things were wrapping up.
Passing German makes me feel a ton more certain that I will actually be employed as a Foreign Service Officer soon and won’t just time off the register. I’m especially glad that my chosen cone, public diplomacy, is not the most competitive at the moment. With a 5.77 in PD according to the Yahoo group’s shadow register, I’m ranked somewhere between number 2 and 7 out of 124 total candidates on the register. That’s a very solid place to be when offers for the next class go out! Now if I could just get that security clearance and pass final suitability review…
The original purpose of this blog was (and still is!) to document my process of joining the Foreign Service after college. Right now, I am still in the post-FSOA clearances phase of the process but things have certainly started to happen faster than I expected! Yesterday I received a phone call from a Houston-based investigator to schedule my security clearance interview.
Since this is a necessary part of the security clearance process, I’m excited that it could mean there isn’t much longer until I end up on the Register for public diplomacy. After they meet with me and some of my references at Rice, there shouldn’t be much more to investigate and my case may be ready for adjudications. It doesn’t seem like my clearance will take a year- most people reporting long clearances on the Yahoo group are dual citizens, have years of travel abroad, and extensive foreign contacts or even foreign spouses. I have none of those! I’m hopeful that I could get my security clearance and then pass final suitability in time for (potentially) the June or September A-100 classes.
I’m graduating from Rice exactly a month from today. These developments are putting me in a pretty weird position for pursuing other opportunities after college while I wait on the Foreign Service. It’s hard to judge how long it’ll take and if I really even need to commit to other options at this point when I could be starting in September. I will definitely still apply for backups to make sure I have a job if something goes wrong from here. I’m looking into teaching in Thailand through CIEE Teach Abroad for a semester and am under consideration for a Peace Corps position, but I’d choose the Foreign Service over anything else.
Obvious disclaimer though: I really can’t be sure when any of the clearances will be finished and most of this post is pure speculation. One thing I remember when getting my Secret level security clearance last year was that things moved quickly after the personal interview. It was maybe 1-2 weeks after that I got an email confirming my clearance. I’m optimistic that the same could happen this time!