Although we started this blog so family and friends could keep up with us, we’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn that quite a few strangers are stumbling upon it too. Google Analytics even tells us the search terms they used to get here. Below are some of the most common, along with my brief responses to these “questions.” Keep in mind that I’m by no means a Foreign Service expert — I haven’t even officially started, after all — but I’m happy to help if I can!
1. “a100 state department 2010”
Here are the start dates of A-100 classes scheduled in 2010:
1/4 – Over
2/16 – Over
3/29 – My class!
5/10 – Offers already extended
Classes beyond September are part of the 2011 fiscal year and therefore have not yet been scheduled. If past patterns hold, there will likely be another class in October and then a hiatus until January 2011. (However, if you’re on the Register, definitely contact HR before planning your life around these dates; they could certainly change.)
2. “a100 class foreign service”
3. “dress code foreign service oral assessment”
Wear a suit if you can; most people will be. If you can’t afford a suit, wear the most professional-looking outfit you have. Err on the side of being too formal and too traditional. I was debating between a traditional suit and a professional but trendy dress; I picked the suit and was glad I did.
4. “odds of getting into the foreign service”
To my knowledge, State doesn’t release official statistics, and it’s hard to calculate because it varies depending on the number of applicants and openings at any given time. However, a good estimate is that somewhere around 2-4% of those who take the written exam are ultimately invited to an A-100 class.
Although the odds aren’t great, many people who know this career is the one for them try year after year until they finally do pass.(People at State often speak about one candidate who tried for 27 years before succeeding. Wow!) It’s often said that the best practice for the Oral Assessment is actually taking the Oral Assessment.
5. “suitability review foreign service”
After a candidate passes all the exams and is granted both security and medical clearances, his or her file is sent for a final suitability review. See more information about that process here. How long does it take? My suitability review took only a few days. Other candidates have waited a week or two. Few candidates wait much longer than that.
6. “becoming a foreign service officer later in life”
Do it! I’m 28 when starting and seem to be on the younger side of members of my A-100 class. There are some who are new or very recent college graduates, but there seem to be many more who are pursuing the Foreign Service after a successful first career. Check out this blog.
7. “fso timeline”
See my application timeline here.
8. “foreign service the register”
After passing all the exams, obtaining all clearances and getting a green flag from the suitability panel, successful candidates are placed on the Register, also sometimes called the List of Eligible Hires. This is the list that HR draws from when inviting candidates to an A-100 class. See State’s official description here. There’s a separate Register for each of the five career tracks, and some are longer than others.
9. “personal narrative fso”
After passing the written exam, candidates are invited to submit five personal narrative essays which will be evaluated along with a few other things to determine who’s invited to take the oral assessment. This whole process is called the Qualifications Evaluation Panel (QEP) and a good description can be found here. My advice? Don’t try to slip in every impressive thing you’ve ever accomplished. Instead, focus on one specific example that best answers the question.
10. “life in the foreign service”
Well, check back! And in the meantime, check out some of the many Foreign Service blogs listed here.
Also — The Yahoo groups linked over on the right are a great resource for much more information about these and other topics related to joining the Foreign Service.