Page 21 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2012

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A P R I L 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
says she was happy to land a job with the U.S. Foreign
Commercial Service helping American companies trying
to export products to Africa.
Before Pierce arrived in Senegal, she asked the com-
munity liaison officer there to put her on the newsletter
mailing list so she could get a feel for what kind of jobs
might be available. She started applying in March, four
months before her July arrival, and by April she’d landed
an interview with FCS.
The job paid better than the clerical positions the em-
bassy was offering, and Pierce hopes it will serve her well
when she again seeks private-sector work in marketing.
The disadvantage was that the Commercial Service, part
of the Commerce Department, doesn’t recognize eligible
family member status. That means she could only be em-
ployed as a contractor, without earning any federal bene-
Her advice: Learn the local language and take rele-
vant courses at the Foreign Service Institute and start
looking for work as soon as possible. “And, like the Boy
Scouts: always be prepared.”
Working Outside the Embassy
The prospects for spouses and partners working out-
side the embassy are slowly getting better, but they still
have a long way to go. So far, State has concluded bilat-
eral work agreements with 114 countries, authorizing
spouses to pursue jobs on the local economy. Most of
those arrangements have long been in place, but the U.S.
has signed a dozen of them in the last five years, most re-
cently with Austria and Germany.
Though all spouses retain full immunity from criminal
prosecutions in these countries under the Vienna Con-
vention on Diplomatic Relations, even under the work
agreements they do not have civil and administrative im-
munity stemming from anything related to their local em-
Informal arrangements exist with 42 other countries,