Lots of curious folks have asked what's new in my quest for getting a job here at post. You know, the whole trying-to-get-an-EFM-job-at-post thing.
Just in case you've missed the story, the bottom line is that for a year I was in training at FSI (both in Chinese and in ConGen) in hopes to *qualify* for a certain job here at post (Professional Adjudication Specialist) in the Consular Section. But passing Chinese and ConGen were only the first steps in the quest to even qualify for this job... I have also gone through (and still would have to go through) other steps, as well.
For example, I got to post in September, and I interviewed for the job in October. I was the only applicant for the position, so I guess I could make a joke here about how THE COMPETITION WAS FIERCE! (ha ha). Somewhere along the line, I guess they decided to let me continue in the process for the job, because a few weeks after the interview I was told that the next step for me (in order to qualify for the job - I haven't been offered it yet) would be to go through the clearance process. I applied for the clearance a few weeks ago. It was quite a production.
After I clicked "send" or "submit" or whatever one clicks when one is totally done with all the eQUIP information gathering and compiling, I went on with my life. I wasn't sure what to expect next. Back when James was hired by DS in 2008, he was given phone numbers and email addresses that he could call or contact if he had questions or wanted to ask about updates... but I have nothing like any of that. I actually pressed "send" or "submit" and then the window or page disappeared into never-never land, and that was all. I didn't get any verification email or any "Okay! We got your application for your clearance!" notification or anything at all. Really- ever since submitting my stuff a few weeks ago, I've not heard one single thing about whether it was received or anything. Who knows? Maybe that's normal.
I've had people say to me, "Well, James is DS! Surely James would know!" but James doesn't know. I have heard rumors that other spouses in other countries who were hoping for jobs at post have been able to get something like a temporary clearance or an interim clearance that would allow them to start work immediately, but I have been offered no such thing. I've heard a rumor that interim clearances are only available in certain countries/posts and maybe mine isn't one of them. Who knows? Certainly not I. I mean, my clearance information was as spic and span as a real human being's can be, I would think. I didn't even have a single foreign contact or a single overseas visit anywhere. I have good credit. Again -who knows? This process is a mystery.
After submitting all of the clearance information, I told myself that I would wait a while and see what happened. But since nothing has happened, I'm assuming that I won't get an interim clearance, and since I won't get an interim clearance, I'm assuming that, even if I am ultimately offered the job, it won't be for a long, long, LONG time. We're talking multiple, multiple months. I have heard rumors that EFM clearances can take up to 7 or 8 months to process... or more. Again, who knows? Certainly not I. I'm just sort of along for the ride.
And you know what? It's totally fine. Truly and seriously. Of course, if someone had told me right after I killed myself getting my 2/1+ in Mandarin and then, the next day, started (and then later passed) ConGen (all unpaid, of course, and with us not even being in Oakwood, but paying expensive rent that whole time) that I *wouldn't* have a job after I got to post, I would have pitched a royal hissy fit the size of Texas (as I am wont to do). But now - it's actually, truly fine.
One of the biggest reasons why I wanted the Chinese score and the Consular job here at post was because I really was seriously considering tossing my hat into the FSO ring. You know, taking the test and hoping I could make it through the FSO hiring process. I was hoping that my Chinese score and some time working in the Consulate would be beneficial for that (I mean, seriously, right now are *any* FSOs getting hired *without* language points?). And maybe things will change... really, maybe they will... but at this point in time that ultimate goal/desire (to be an FSO when I grow up) has ebbed away and has been replaced with other interests.
Bottom line? I'm going back to school. I'm starting on Monday morning with online classes (10 credit hours). Yes, I have a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from a good school, but I'm sort of toying with changing to something completely and totally different. As in, so different it isn't even in the State ball park.
I'm excited! Being in Chinese showed me that my crotchety old brain could still handle rigorous studying. That even when sitting in class with 20-year-olds, I could still hold my own academically. Big time.
So not only do my sons go back to school on Monday morning... so do I! We'll see where this ends up. I may hate being back in school. I may hate studying something other than politics. But China has no bilateral work agreement, which means that I literally am not allowed to get a job anywhere in Chengdu other than at the Consulate, and I can't get a job at the Consulate without a clearance, and I have no idea what in the world will ultimately happen with that, so it's time to spread my wings and try something that isn't State-related. If I like it, I like it, and if I don't... no harm done!
At least it's something to do and be really excited about! Which, for us EFMs, really is half the battle. If not more. And yes, I truly am excited! Which is a huge, huge blessing.