Page 39 - Foreign Service Journal - October, 2012b

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I wish I had known that serving in a Critical Priority Coun-
try (unaccompanied) would be such a big expectation.
When I applied to USAID in 2007, I knew that I could be
sent anywhere; but there was nothing in the job post-
ing that stated an expectation to do an unaccompanied
tour early on. Yet during my frst day of orientation, after
I had left a better-paying job to join USAID, we were told
that all of us would be expected to serve in a CPC in the
near future and that we could expect to return to such an
assignment multiple times throughout our career. This
was a big surprise and something I would have preferred
to know before making the decision to join.
—A female USAID ofcer in Latin America
USAID is generally less respected than State, which
manifests itself in a variety of ways, most prominently
in starting salaries. USAID also pays less attention to
language needs of its FSOs. I have colleagues currently
enrolled in Spanish and French classes to go to Thailand.
Another is learning Portuguese to go to Iraq.
—USAID Ofcer Daniel Morris, Foreign Service Institute
Spousal Employment
I would advise FS candidates to think very carefully
about the spousal employment issue if their spouses are
working professionals. Spousal employment continues
to be the dark cloud over an otherwise fantastic career.
—A State political ofcer serving in sub-Saharan Africa
Do not shrug of warnings about how difcult this lifestyle
will be for ambitious spouses of Foreign Service ofcers.
—A consular track ofcer serving in Mexico
You must have patience, beginning with the application
process, but you must also be proactive. Make sure you
and your signifcant other spend a lot of time discussing
realistic employment opportunities (or not) for them at
post. Your non-FSO Eligible Family Member will need to
sacrifce a lot and be very fexible, adaptable and sup-
portive of your career.
—A USAID health ofcer serving in Africa
Will They Stick Around?
To our question as to whether or not they view the Foreign
Service as a long-term career, the most common response by
far is “yes, but…” We also asked what the most important factor
is in determining whether it will
a career. Te vast majority
of respondents say that they do want the Foreign Service to be
a long-term career; but most of them also point to factors that
could push them out—spousal employment being the one that
comes up most frequently.
Almost all respondents came into the Foreign Service view-
ing it as a long-term career, many saying they’d like to stay “until
retirement” or for 15 to 20 years. One public diplomacy ofcer
serving in a consular position points out: “‘Long-term career’ is
a bit of a strange phrase to me these days. I expect to be working
somewhere in some capacity for 35-plus years. I see myself in
the Foreign Service for at least seven to 17 years, but can’t see
that as the
thing I will do for the rest of my working years.”
FSO Jennifer Rizzoli meets Secretary of State Hillary Rodham
Clinton during her visit to Cape Town in August.