Friday, May 30, 2014

And the hits, they keep coming...

The State Department has a terrific employment program for spouses. It's called the Expanded Professional Associates Program, and it allows qualified spouses to apply for positions that are the equivalent of Foreign Service officer positions - same job, same pay - when the position is otherwise projected to remain vacant.

This is the job I had until recently, and I loved it. I filled a vacant FSO job in the Public Diplomacy section, and really got to take the job for a test drive in order to decide if I wanted to become an FSO. (I passed all the tests awhile back but was allowed to put my name on a "wait list" while we were overseas rather than going straight on to the hiring list.) It isn't easy: you're expected to do all the same work that your FSO colleagues do, but with none of their training. The learning curve is steep. But given the fact that there are almost no other professional-level, decent-paying jobs available to spouses, this is a big, huge, gigantic, enormous step in the right direction for State spouses, as well as a bonus for our overworked FSOs.

I applied for the program back in 2008, when it started. I requested to be qualified in every category except ECON (because there were no such jobs available at the time in China) and Computer Stuff (because, duh, I don't even know that acronym, and I can hear Mr. GlobeHopper choking on his coffee even now as he contemplates the idea of me working tech support...).

Since then, the program has changed, and if you want to qualify for it, you have to go through a massive, confusing, soul-crushing process just to get your name on the list to even be considered for an interview. Seriously. It's so confusing that even me, a smart gal who is currently excelling at the exact same job, thankyouverymuch, struggled to understand the 247-step process to apply for consideration. It makes tax time seem like a breeze. Rumor has it they made it this complicated simply to reduce the number of spouses applying, because there are way too many qualified folks out there for the number of available positions.

As luck would have it, the only two positions available in Moscow this year are in the ECON section. The one section I didn't originally qualify for. Which means, if I wanted to apply, I'd have to undergo the soul-crushing process. Which takes hours and hours and HOURS (and that's just to read all of the cable traffic associated with the program). Seriously. I know all of you spouses reading out there are nodding your heads in sympathetic agreement.

But I wanted to apply. And so I did it. I read the cables and their accompanying links. I spent hours revising my resume, turning it into the 12-page behemoth required by USAJobs. I wrote the cover letter. I met with the employment advisor. I did it all. It took forever. But finally, mere days before the deadline back in March, I hit "submit" on my USAJobs packet. It was over. Now - to wait. Because of course I would qualify.  And I speak Russian! These people are so gonna want to interview me, I thought. I may not get the job, of course, because there are tons of smart, professional spouses out there. But 100%, I will qualify and get an interview.

I went back to my regularly scheduled life and forgot about it. Until this week, when friends started popping up on Facebook announcing they'd been notified that they qualified for interviews. Yay, them! I "liked" a bunch of posts and then started wondering where my notification was. My fabulous friend Jen, who is a CLO somewhere on the other side of the globe, told me to check in USAJobs. I did - and my application still read "pending."

That's weird, she wrote. The only thing she could think of that I might have done wrong is neglected to go over to a second website to fill out a second application, which is also required.

Yes. That.

Somehow, in all of my reading and researching, I missed the part where after you applied for the job on USAJobs, you had to put down your margarita and hold off on celebrating, because you still had to go to a State Department site and reapply, filling out more forms with the same information.

So I guess I won't be applying for that job in Moscow after all. And since we're only there for two years, I can't even apply during the next cycle, because I won't have enough time left at post by then to qualify.

Perhaps this is God's way of telling me I need to focus on starting up my personal training business instead?


Hannelene said... [Reply]

There was only one position available in our area, and not something I was particularly interested in doing. I went though most of the soul crushing experience before I finally admitted that I didn't even want the job - its just that there is NOTHING else to do here. Self-employment. That's where its at for a spouse. I think.

Jen said... [Reply]

I'm so sorry...I really wanted to be wrong :-( And I can't even say "Well, there is next year!" I'm sorry for you and for Moscow as I know they will miss out greatly on your talent.

Now get going on that personal training biz!

Nomads By Nature said... [Reply]

I hope it ends up being a HUGE blessing in disguise for you. Sucks for them, though, because they just lost a huge talent.

Emily Cerveny said... [Reply]

and now I am crying in my office. You have such a way with words, and I have a Grayson, who is much like your Aiden, in that baseball means so much to him, and he really shows defeat in his game when he is having a tough time, too.
Thanks for sharing this...

Attica Musings said... [Reply]

Wow. And I knew the spouse employment situation was nasty, but I hadn't heard or dealt with this.

Please. Write your own stuff.