Holy bid list, Batman! I finally got my hot little hands on the long awaited list this past Wednesday. Since then, I have pored over the approximately one hundred available posts. Where do I begin?
I suspect most people reading this blog are hoping that I post the actual list so you can test your knowledge of world capitals and rank your own exotic locales. Sorry, that ain't gonna happen. The contents of the bid list are deemed "sensitive but unclassified" which basically means that I can only talk about select posts in private. Don't worry, I don't have to kill anyone afterwards. I do know that inquiring minds want to know though. I loved to stalk blogs of newly inducted diplomats for clues about their bid list and to forecast potential trends for my own (in vain). So I'll indulge those of you with a bit of my current line of thinking. Forget about looking for a code in this blog by the way. I don't have that much time nowadays.
I liken first tour bidding to baseball. I don't follow its tedium by any stretch of the means but the strategy of the game does appeal to me. With that in mind, I like to think of myself as stepping up to the plate and trying to score runs over the next five innings (years) of my career. Here are four options based on this analogy:
1) "Swing for the Fences": There are a handful of tantalizing posts on the list over which many members of my class are salivating (myself included). Someone will get these assignments but I imagine only because of a very particular reason. I'm probably going to take a few swings but won't chase pitches at the expense of hurting my chances of landing a good post now and down the road. As I'll explain below, a cushy post for my first tour would likely result in me picking from the bottom of the barrell of posts for the second tour. This leads to an entirely different option.
2) "Sacrifice Fly": The list also contains a number of hardship posts in challenging environments to say the least. Some are drawn to these assignments for a variety of personal and professional reasons. Taking this route will undoubtedly get noticed and help move up the Foreign Service ladder. Ten years ago I would have been all over "taking one for the team" but I'm not so sure nowadays. Instead, I'm thinking a more prudent strategy will be to pursue a mix of the next two options.
3) "Bunt": Entry level officers in the Foreign Service must fulfill a number of requirements related to language proficiencies and functional work in their first two tours in order to be tenured. I plan to bid on a number of posts that enable me to "make contact" with one of these balls to move runners into scoring position. It might be best to play the odds for my second tour bidding.
4) "Base Hit": Luckily for me, the bid list has a considerable number of posts in desirable locations that also meet the aforementioned requirements. I'd actually count a number of these assignments as a "double" or even a "triple" in terms of my previously stated preferences. I'd like to think that I can make a strong case for these assignments based on my past experiences, family needs and current interests.
I hope these baseball analogies provide some insights into my line of thinking. Later this week, my wife and I will meet with one of the all powerful Career Development Officers (CDOs) who will take our preferences into consideration when deciding assignments for all of the other 98 members of my incoming class. We plan to conduct some rigorous research in the coming days on other important considerations for these posts. These details might help us make our "pitch" for why we should serve in X, Y or Z. For a glimpse into the anxiety that accompanies these meetings, check out this funny recap from blogger Kerns 'R' Us.
After I turn in my bid list on August 2, we'll have about two agonizing weeks to wait before we receive our first assignment on the fateful Flag Day on August 19. There's a lot of ground to cover before now and then. In the meantime, I'll need to keep my head in the bigger game. I'll share more about other facets in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!