Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Foreign Service Officer Application Process

Small victories count, so when I passed the foreign service officer exam, something a whole lot of people do, I felt good about it. Not ecstatic, the way I would feel if the whole thing actually came to fruition. The way I would feel if I were able to get past the Narratives and get past the Oral Assessment and learn that I've been selected. That day is a long way off, and may not even be seen.

Like so many, I am now working on the 6 short essays. I've completed 3 so far - it's not all that difficult. Only 200 words, so it's not like writing those 20 page papers I had to write for school. And, I think my real-life experience is plentiful enough to be able to pull examples out of and write about them in a step by step fashion.

It's the narratives where the qualifying panel cuts the majority of applicants out of the running. I don't have numbers, nor have I seen any, but it's quite obvious. The people who make it to the oral assessment stage have something a bit more special going on where they not only were able to achieve a passing score on the written exam, but they also have something in their background where they can write compelling examples of how they've used specific skills and also have a decent enough resume where the qualifying panel can see the qualities they look for in a FSO.

It's a long wait after I submit the narratives. I won't know until late January if I am in or out. But, I'm used to waiting. I waited for the Fulbright, and a fellowship, and another pseudo-fellowship, and for the VSO's decision, and I waited for the Peace Corps. I now wait for other things over and above the FSO application process as well. It's what I do, I wait.

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