A few weeks ago I finalized a deal with my firm for my transition from “Partner” to “Eligible Family Member.” I will continue to work through the end of April and then on April 30 I will officially withdraw from the firm and will cease being a partner at Parker Poe. The finalization of the deal was a huge relief to me and I took it as a sign that I was going to have infinitely more free time to do all the things on the “What will D Do” list. HA!
As I write this it is 11:28 p.m. on a SATURDAY night and I just logged out of the Parker Poe system, primarily because the program I was working in kept crashing. So much for free time.
I’ve really only kept work for one of my clients. I really enjoy working with them, and the work is always interesting, so I figured it would keep me happily engaged, bring in a few dollars, but leave me plenty of free time to start working on my list. Only I now have briefing on multiple cases for this client which, coincidentally enough, won’t end until April 30. And as luck (or unluck for them) would have it, another lawsuit was filed against them last week, just when I was anticipating things slowing down. The best laid plans and all that…
At the same time I have been working on my list. My primary focus has been on laying the foundation for potentially finding employment at a later date, whether in Kin, or at our next post. The State Department has been working over the last several years to come up with ways to help family members with overseas career development. There has been a lot of talk lately about the programs not being very effective, but I haven’t yet experienced the results because we haven’t yet gone to our first post, so for now I can only speak to the various opportunities and possibilities that have been brought to my attention – and which I generally have found exciting.
One program is the Global Employment Initiative (GEI). One aspect of this program is the ability to work with a Global Employment Advisor (GEA) to streamline a job search in a particular region, provide job coaching and training workshops and other career services – all for free. I have an advisor in Africa who has been responsive and has talked through several options with me, though I think at this point the main help I need is figuring out how to update my resume after 18 or so years. Let’s just say my CV is not internet compatible.
There is also a “pilot” program to offer EFM’s the opportunity to accept consular jobs at their spouse’s post (ie: work on the visa line). This program requires taking a written 75 minute test similar to the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) that B took – lacking only the essay portion – and then, if you pass that, taking an “Oral Assessment.” The OA for the AEFM/CA program includes a writing section where you are given a closed universe of information and asked to write a memo or other document, and a “structured interview” which includes answering questions about yourself, your background, and trying to figure out what the appropriate answer to a bunch of “scenario” questions are. It is missing the “group exercise” in the Foreign Service Oral Assessment (FSOA)(thank heavens because there was one REALLY obnoxious guy taking the FSOA the day I took my “fake” OA and I might not have tolerated his BS for long in a group exercise…).
I took, and passed, the written test, and then a few weeks later took, and passed, the OA. This OA is even scored like the FSOA – out of 7 with 5.3 being a passing score. I got a 6.3, which I’m really happy with, though I have no idea what that will mean in practice. Now, like B had to about 2 years ago, I’m in the process of getting my security clearance and, once that is done, I’ll be put on a list for possible consular jobs, but only in the posts where I am already living with B. There are some great advantages to this program (like being able to accrue government pension) so I’m hoping that when I’m ready the fact that I’ve jumped through all the hoops will put me in a good position to get a consular job one day.
I was going to try and take the 6-week consular class while we are in the U.S. too, figuring I could knock that out without having to figure out the logistics of possibly coming back to the states to take it when we are overseas. I even took another written test (Government bureaucracy in action…) in order to be put on the waiting list for the class. But, now that I’ve done all that, I look at the calendar between now and the end of July and there is no way I’m going to have a block of 6 weeks in which I do not need to work, or have not planned other things (the fun things I’ve been waiting for like spending a week with my family and a week with B’s). It just seems that time is running out and I have (as is my tendency) booked myself so full that I’m still running around crazed despite all my great desires and plans to have tons of free time.
Amid all of this work and future job planning, I rented a sewing machine so I could work on my “go back to sewing” plan. HA again! It has sat, covered, on the dining room (if you can call just another part of our living the dining room just because it includes a table…) since I brought it home. Next week I’ll lug it back up to the sewing studio and, I’ll venture a guess, it won’t have been used. I do have some really nice material to take with us to Kinshasa though. Sigh.
Onward with the juggling I go…