Wednesday, May 09, 2012

168th A-100 Here We Come!

Good Morning Ms. H,
The Registrar's Office is pleased to extend an appointment offer for the July 16, 2012 - Junior Officer Class

Looks like we're heading back to FSI!

Much to my surprise yesterday morning, while looking for the results of my Spanish phone test from last week, I found this message from the Registrar instead. I really wasn't expecting this to come so soon, so it's a bit of a shock. I contacted the Registrar to say, first, "YES!" and second, to ask if I'd been boosted up the register due to passing the language test. They hadn't even received the results yet, so the irony of it all is that after all my stressing and fussing and extra lessons - it looks like my plain ole' score earned me the invitation after all.

Oh wait, let me explain a minute for those who are new to the FS vocabulary. "A-100" is the nickname for the five-week foreign service officer's training course. It takes its name from the original room in Main State where it used to be held, before there was a Foreign Service Institute (FSI). When I went through the training to be an OMS, it was simply called a Specialist Orientation and it lasted three weeks. During this five-week course, besides learning about being a FS employee (again), we will also have sections like public speaking, and answering difficult questions. We will also get another bid list, much larger than the last one I got with only 13 posts on it, and we will have another Flag Day (yay!).

At the end of A-100, chances are good that I'll get six weeks of ConGen training. This is the very specific training for Consular Officers, complete with mock interviews, jail cell visits and volumes of immigration law to digest.

And let's not forget language training! As Consular Officers must communicate directly with the public all day, every day as they conduct interviews - language abilities are crucial. Just because I have some Spanish abilities is absolutely no guarantee that we'll be sent to a Spanish-speaking post. In fact, it's a running joke that if someone is fluent in French, chances are good they're going to be assigned to China instead.

Now for the frosting on the cake: I received word today that I actually did pass the Spanish phone test. Woohoo!!!

To understand more about what a Consular Officer actually does, here is some extra reading, if you have a moment. If you follow a few more links from this page, there are some cool examples of the work I'll be doing over the coming years.

How does my husband feel?  He's excited to reshuffle the deck of cards again and see what comes up. With his newly-minted certificate to teach English - he's far more portable now.

How do the Tabbies feel?
Shhhh.... we're waiting to find a way to break it to them. I think Dodger will be happy remembering his sunny balcony in our Oakwood apartment. Toby liked the wall-to-wall carpet and Tim has promised to take Daphne for walks by the pool. Hmmm... maybe we shouldn't bring that up just yet.


  1. So hopefully this is a precursor to them sending out FSS OA Invitations as well....
    Super happy for you five. Hopefully you're not sent to Djibouti.

  2. Congrats!
    Good to hear good things happen to Good People!

  3. WOW - That was fast!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

  4. Thanks everyone! It's a thrill and a HUGE to-do list at the same time. Not to mention that I'm prone to spontaneous bursts of sentimentality when I see my coworkers in the Embassy who I won't be working with again. Well, the Colombians at least. The rest of us in the salad spinner called the FS will possibly cross paths again and some will be with us at FSI this summer. But my FSN buddies... we'll just have to come visit Colombia again and see all the amazing places we've been *meaning* to get to.

  5. Hi Caitlin, I just passed the OA for Consular and I was wondering if I could ask you some more details about your timeline? I could post them here, or email you directly if that's okay. Thanks!

    1. Hello Wandering Brown Coat,
      I should make a post for the whole timeline thing, but for now I'll sketch it out for you:
      Oct 2010 Passed FSOT
      Jan 2011 Passed QEP
      March 2011 Started Orientation as an FSS and got assigned to Bogota with 3 months language training, which allowed me to...
      May 2011 Passed OA
      July 2011 Security Clearances and Med Clearances transfered to new candidacy, told I was on the register with a 5.4 Consular.
      July 27, 2011 Arrived at post and immediately deferred my candidacy until I could pass the phone test for Spanish and bump up my score.
      May 1, 2012 Phone test and reactivated candidacy.
      May 8, 2012 Received invite for A-100 in July
      May 9, 2012 Received news that I passed phone test with the extra points putting me at a 5.57

      I still don't know if I received the offer due to my points or not, as the registrar told me that they didn't have my scores when I was offered the position.

      What's your cone and your score?

  6. Thanks for posting all that! Actually it's exactly the same as yours; cone and score. Which I knew from reading your previous posts, but that's why I was curious about your timeline. I know I'll have a couple months until I actually hit the register, but I'm trying to assess my chances of actually getting an offer, and possible timeframe. I know it's a pretty futile exercise since things are always shifting, but I'm encouraged to think (hope) you got your offer before your language bonus, since I won't have one. Again, thanks for all that! Enjoy your R&R!

  7. Belated congrats. I'll be in the July 16th OMS class. Very excited.

  8. Thank you Mapletreecorner - it sounds like we both have exciting times coming. I'm surprised they have the two Orientations starting on the very same day. I will certainly see you on the Metro the first day, heading to Main State. Bring comfy shoes! What number class will you be? I was the 119th and now the 168th. Let me know if there are any Spanish speakers among your OMS classmates. I can think of a perfectly nice desk in Bogota that will need someone sitting at it!