Can you tell I started work? It finally happened! I started working at the embassy a few weeks ago, and my days of leisure are quickly becoming a distant memory.
The job is part of the EPAP program and is exactly what I wanted to do, so it’s reeeally exciting. However, a wise colleague kept it real when he said – “That’s great! Congrats! But now you have to come here everyday…” Truth. So far though, it’s been really interesting, and it’s so nice to have interaction all day with real adults. And to use my brain. Good times.
So let’s talk about the timeline, because it was a long one, and unfortunately one that I don’t think is necessarily unrealistic for others to experience. Here we go.
January 2013 – Discover the EPAP program.
March 2013 – Apply for entry into the program and pass the Business Writing Test (this test is no longer required).
March 2014 – “Open season” for Spring 2014 starts, allowing me to put in an application on the USA Jobs site in order to seek “qualification” for EPAP jobs in several different sections. I apply for qualification in three different sections.
May 2014 – Get notification of qualification in all three areas. Woohoo, job opportunities!
February 2015 – Summer 2015 EPAP jobs are announced. Send statement of interest for EPAP jobs available at our future post (a.k.a. applied for the job).
April 2015 – Email the HR Bureau Rep to find out if the EPAP jobs at post are actually going to be funded. Radio silence. Continue search for other possible jobs at our future post.
May 2015 – HR in Bangkok contacts me for a phone interview for the day after we are scheduled to actually arrive at post.
June 2015 – Interview in person at post. Thankfully avoid awkward phone interview.
August 2015 – Receive offer letter for the position after two months of radio silence from HR. Offer letter email says “Attached is your offer for Position XYZ (in an area I neither qualified nor ever applied for) at Embassy Beijing.” Breathe sigh of relief that actual offer letter is for the job I applied for, in the country I’m in, and that I won’t have to wait another two months for a new letter. Begin process of trying to get salary I had at previous post. HR Bureau Rep gets annoyed with my questions, and says that they will determine if I can get my previous salary at a later time. Cannot explain why in non-HR jargon.
August 2015 – Begrudgingly accept offer at salary lower than I had at previous post, even though all info about the program says that highest previous salary (also known as HPR, or Highest Previous Rate), will be honored, and it’s completely insane to accept a job at a salary you don’t expect to receive. Cross fingers and hope for the best.
September 2015 – All paperwork goes through. I’m ok to start! Get new offer letter with the correct salary. Hallelujah!
October 2015 – Start working!
So when I think about this, this whole process took about as much time as it can take to actually get into the Foreign Service itself. It’s a little nuts. Ok. A lot nuts. But I’m working, and I’m happy.
The breakdown really occurred with the Bureau HR (basically the Washington, DC HR office for our area of the world). They were completely unresponsive, and delayed the process for much longer than it needed to be, which was incredibly frustrating for everyone involved. We made it through though, and I still believe that these are the best jobs the Department has to offer for EFMs. The good part, is that the officers also seem to realize this, and continue to support the program and fight to get these positions at their posts. Progress.
Now please excuse me – it’s time to go back to my well-earned Friday night glass of wine.