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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

MAY 2015

45

TIPS

FROMTHE

BELLY OF THE PYTHON

M

any of us in the mid-level ranks

of the Foreign Service at the

State Department face a pro-

fessional challenge. Admitted

to the corps during the hiring

surge, we are now suffering the

fate of “the pig in the python.”

Our large numbers have

overwhelmed the Foreign Service promotion pathways, slowing

movement through them to a crawl.

John Fer joined the Foreign Service in 2009, and

has served in New Delhi as a consular officer, in

Managua as cultural attaché and in International

Information Programs at the State Department as a

regional policy officer. Presently, he covers Russia as

a public diplomacy desk officer at State.

How can we optimize our own professional development and strengthen the Foreign

Service while negotiating a challenging mid-level passage? Here are some suggestions.

BY JOHN F ER

We are tenured and we’re no longer wide-eyed, but we prob-

ably don’t have much more responsibility than we did as junior

officers. Moreover, we can expect to spend a significantly longer

time at the FS-3 and FS-2 levels than has traditionally been the

case.

If, like me, you are looking at the next decade as an abnor-

mally long series of lateral moves until promotion, I’d like to

offer a few tips, things that we can do ourselves to optimize

our own professional development and at the same time help

strengthen the Foreign Service.

Recognize the Unsung Heroes

As a band of Type-A overachievers, we know how important it

is to be recognized for our efforts, but how much time do we put

into keeping an eye out for the quiet, less visible contributions to

the mission? While there is a wealth of information on general

employee recognition, finding the unsung heroes can require

FS KNOW-HOW