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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

On The Register

(warning: this post is a little technical and may be a little dry for you if you are not interested in the Foreign Service)

Yes, a little more than a year after I took the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT), I made it to The Register! For those of you outside the Foreign Service or new to this blog, The Register is the list to which you get added at the end of the process of becoming a Foreign Service Officer (FSO). It’s the list from which the State Department hires new diplomats. There are actually five registers – one for each of the five tracks of the Foreign Service (Political, Public Diplomacy, Economic, Management and Consular). Since I chose the Management track, I am on the Management Register. The process of becoming a US diplomat takes so long because there are multiple steps to it. You get to The Register after successfully passing the FSOT, the Personal Narrative stage, the Oral Assessment (OA), medical and security clearances as well as a suitability review.

Of course, that’s not all. Just because I am on The Register, doesn’t mean that I will get hired. The candidates, who make it this far, are arranged in descending order based on their score from the OA plus any bonus points they may claim for knowing a language or being a veteran. I am not a veteran and my OA score was on the low end – 5.3 (minimum passing score for the OA is 5.25), which put me at the very bottom of the list (49th of 49 as of 7/19) but that was before I got my language bonus points.

You may recall that I studied Hindi with my husband at FSI for seven months and passed my final exam with 2+Speaking/2Reading (more info about what the score means and the scale is available at the Interagency Language Roundtable website.) I had to get FSI to convert that score to a pass/fail so Board of Examiners, the people responsible for evaluation and selection of FSOs, could use it. Then initially, I got only .17 bonus points, which bumped my score up to 5.47 and my register position to 15 out of 44 (as of yesterday). I decided to claim Hindi as Critical Needs Language (CNL) and informed HR to that effect. This increased my language bonus points to .40 and landed me in position 5 of 43 on the Management Register (as of today). Of course, claiming CNL has strings attached: it obligates me to serve in a Hindi-speaking country twice in my career – once as an entry-level FSO (first two tours) and then again as a mid-level officer. That’s more than OK with me because I would ideally like to be posted in Delhi after A-100 (the initial training class for FSOs) to keep the family together. Plus, now that I’ve spent some time in India, I know that I’d love to come back, and so would Paul.

If you noticed a little fluctuation in the number of people on the Management Register, you are not crazy. That’s because offers for the September A-100 class were extended a few days ago and people are accepting as we speak. Sometimes people have more than one candidacy and when they accept, their other candidacies are removed, which shrinks the register. A few people chose to defer for a variety of reasons as well and that also shrinks the registers a little. I was actually surprised that the Management Register had only about 40 people. Last I heard, all the registers were overflowing and had close to 200 people each, so that’s encouraging, I guess.

5 of 43 is not a bad position to be in. It will probably change because people are constantly added to and fall out of the registers. You can only be on the register for 18 months before you time out and have to start all over, if you still want to be an FSO that is. So, what are my chances to get hired? Reasonably good, I guess but there are no guarantees because I think  just missed the September class cut-off and that’s the last class of this fiscal year. Unfortunately, things are very much up in the air after that and HR was not willing to speculate because of budget cuts and the upcoming elections, so I’ll just have to wait and see.

11 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Daniela. That's a well-deserved success. You must be delighted. I'm also glad to hear you love Delhi enough to come back. Can't wait to see you guys soon(ish). Again, congratulations.

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    1. Thanks, Adrian! Yes, Delhi's pretty awesome. You guys are going to like it. Can't wait for you to get here...

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  2. Hm. I will have to email you about Delhi. I was thinking about doing a little visit there to scope things out. I like SCA ... but I don't envision myself coming back to a 'stan for a while. Congratulations on hitting the register!

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    1. Greta, you guys are welcome any time. Just say the word. We'd love to see you and the fam!

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  3. Congrats. #5 on the list is a great place to be.

    How did you find out when the A-100 classes are being offered? That would seem like useful information for people (like me) who haven't yet made it on the register but are trying to decide whether to defer when the time comes.

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    1. Donna, there's a yahoo group for people who have passed the FSOT, PNQs and the FSOA. They discuss things like registers, offers, A-100 classes, preparing to join the FS and such. There's also a shadow register, an online database that the members of the group fill out with their scores, dates of clearances, bonus points etc, which gives you an idea of what's going on. It's not exactly representative because not everyone who takes the FSOA belongs to it but it gives you an idea. You can join the group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/A-100-2002/.

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  4. Congratulations on making the register! And I am impressed at your 2+ in Hindi -- as someone who is studying Spanish at FSI now, a 2+ in any language is nothing to sneeze at, but something as complex as Hindi is even better (yes, I am aware that Spanish is much, much easier!).

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    1. Thanks, Natasha! Best of luck with Spanish and moving to El Salvador!!!

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  5. Congratulations! Well done - hope you get a call soon! Is there a possibility they may have extra September slots if some people defer/decline? That would be ideal.

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    1. Thanks, Sadie! I am not sure if the September class is full. I am trying to figure that out now. It would be good, if I get in now because it's anybody's guess what happens after the end of the fiscal year...

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  6. Way to go Daniela. It's an incredible accomplishment, all that AND the mama of two! Bravo!!

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