In addition to being the place where FSOs go for their training, the Foreign Service Institute also offers a number of classes that EFMs are eligible to take. The classes range from raising bilingual children to security courses. They are a nice bonus and help keep EFMs plugged into the State Department.
So far I’ve managed to take a few. First was a general spouse orientation which was useful not only for some of the information but as a chance to meet other spouses as well. Also we got donuts.
Then I took a two hour class that went through the details of shipping a pet overseas. Since it is unlikely any airline will allow Abbey to travel in a basket of clothes, I thought it was important to attend.
Last week was an evening class about legal issues. I found the section about renting property and becoming a landlord in Virginia particularly interesting. Did you know Virginia is one of the most landlord-friendly states? This is very different from NYC where tenants in our old building bragged about not paying rent for years. Try that in Virgina and you’ll be on the business end of an eviction notice.
I was batting 3 for 3 with the classes. Sure not everything in the pet class was relevant to me, but some of it was. But even if I don’t remember all the information, I’ll at least know what questions I should be asking.
My streak ended this week, however. I took a class about developing virtual job opportunities. You know, working from home. I’m loath to complain about a free class, but I really can’t let this one slide.
First, the positives. Our two presenters run a legitimate website that highlights work from home opportunities. They do a great service and weed out all of the scams from con artists and flim-flam men. They also gave us some interesting tips on how to find work from home opportunities using Google (hint – don’t search for “work from home”).
That paragraph above took me about three minutes to write. Our class was seven hours long. See where I’m going with this?
So now the negatives. We spent at least 20 minutes talking about Second Life. Not how to develop job opportunities with Second Life, just what it is. For all the talk about how innovative and cool Second Life is, there was no mention of the fact that Second Life is estimated to have hit its peak number of users three years ago, and that even then, it had fewer than 1% of the users that Facebook has (note, we didn’t talk about Facebook). This did not help me get a virtual job.
Then we had a lengthy discussion about being careful when replying to emails. We were warned to make sure we didn’t hit “reply to all” by mistake. We were warned not to forward emails to the wrong parties. Good advice. Not relevant to developing virtual job opportunities, but good advice.
Next we learned how to reformat our resumes from Word Documents to plain text documents. I’m still not sure why.
Finally, we were taught about scams. They could have just told us that no one is really going to pay us $300 a day for one hour of work and left it at that. Instead we were shown a half dozen scam sites and were given the details of how each scam worked.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post this because I didn’t want to come off as negative or like I thought all the classes were worthless. Overall I’ve been pretty happy with FSI. But I wanted to warn others that if their time is limited, this might be a class to cross of their to-do lists.
Oh, and remember those scams they taught us about? Apparently the perpetrator of one made over $7 million before being caught. And then he only had to pay a fine of $150,000. Now that’s what I call a virtual job opportunity.