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In a previous post, I wrote about bidding for my 2nd tour because of my Arabic language requirement.  Well, today the results of this bidding cycle were announced…

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…and I am actually somewhat pleased to announce that I was not placed this bidding cycle.  This means I will bid again in the next bidding cycle which will take place sometime this summer.  This is a good thing because traditionally the summer bidding cycle has a lot more positions.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let me explain a little more how this process works for those of you not up on your Foreign Service trivia.  🙂

I entered the Department under what was then called the Critical Needs Language Program.  I’ve already explained about the benefits of the program-formerly-known-as-CNL (see this post) so I’ll spare you a recap of that and skip to the part about how this plays out once you enter the service.  It works like this: if your first tour is not in a post where your CNL is spoken, you must bid during every subsequent bidding cycle until you do get placed.  So since my original bid was done in the summer and obviously they don’t speak Arabic in Juarez, I had to bid in the most recent cycle. And because for whatever reason I didn’t get placed this cycle, I have to bid in the next cycle which should be this summer.

It’s pretty common knowledge here in the Department that if you want greater job options, you try your hardest to bid summer cycle, but for people outside of the Foreign Service world the reasoning behind this might not be intuitive.  The issue is mostly one of timing.  Usually, the cycle you bid in is the same cycle in which you transfer.  For example, if your position ends in June you’ll need to be placed in a job that starts pretty soon after that so that the Department doesn’t have to come up with a ton of filler training between your end date in one post and your start date in another.  There are tons of exceptions to this and no one’s training schedules and transfer schedules are the same, but more or less that’s how it works.  For people with kids, of which there are many in the FS, it’s far better to have this gap between posts during the summer because that means their kids can finish out the school year in whatever country they’re in before moving to a new place.  Bidding in winter usually means transferring in winter, and not many people want to pull their kids out of school in the middle of the year in China and then re-enroll them, again in the middle of the year, in Djibouti!

This bidding structure also means that people without kids and single people sometimes get the shaft in terms of bidding because they don’t always have compelling reasons to switch cycles so often they get “stuck” on whatever cycle they started out on.  For us, I’m happy to get to bid summer cycle because I’m hoping there are more Public Diplomacy jobs available for me to bid on.  Doing an in cone assignment is pretty important for me career-wise at this point so I’m crossing my fingers that the summer list has more than one or two PD jobs to bid on.

Unrelated:  My exam is in 9 days.  HOLYCRAPINEEDTOBESTUDYING!

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