Page 25 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2012

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eral employment. In addition,
those couples can talk shop with-
out fear of violating security proto-
cols. And the conflicts that might
arise if an accompanying spouse
finds a rewarding private-sector
job, then has to quit in order to
move to the next post, are avoided.
At the same time, tandem cou-
ples are at constant risk of separation, and nepotism rules
can sometimes make it difficult to stay together. Still, the
State Department is more generous than many private
employers would be in offering leave without pay or time
off to have a child. “Couples could take turns on assign-
ments, or even take turns on leave without pay,” says Dave.
Different career tracks within State would help too, he
notes. Terry was fortunate “that her science specialization
opened assignments that were less time-consuming than
the normal political-military assignments that I had. So it
worked out. But it worked because we both knew what
we got, what we gave up, and what
we were willing to do.”
A Mixed Bag
As you can see, eligible family
members who wish to work over-
seas have many options to choose
from — in theory, anyway. But
their chances of success will de-
pend on their skills, experience, the local economy and a
certain degree of serendipity. In some countries, there will
be many avenues to employment and few barriers. In
many others, opportunities will be severely limited, creat-
ing stiff competition for a handful of positions.
Moreover, while the post, the Family Liaison Office
and (possibly) other institutions are available to offer guid-
ance and encouragement, ultimately it is still up to each
individual family member to find his or her own way. The
picture is, overall, brighter than it was just a few years ago.
But there is still a long way to go.
Chances of success will
depend on one’s skills,
experience, the local
economy and serendipity.
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