I've owed you this update for awhile.
Things that have been happening with Pickering:
As you may know I got my internship assignment in January. Once we got the assignments we could get in contact with the posts and ask lots of annoying questions. I took full advantage of that. Also in January we were sent a list of A-100 classes and asked to state our preference. Realistically only one fit my schedule anyway, so it wasn't a tough choice. DoS reserves the right to place us whenever works best for them though. This was also the moment when we officially had to pick a cone. I will be the only one rocking consular and I'm proud of it!
In February I got my A-100 assignment (and immediately mentally checked out of grad school). Along with this we got the paperwork to declare our official residence. This is important because if you pick the wrong place you end up getting a rough deal. For example, new employees who claim their residence in DC don't get per diem or housing when they start A-100. (From what I understand.) New employees who claim residence elsewhere get all of that. Long story short, choose wisely. We also got started organizing our travel to and from the internships. This was the first time I've ever used a travel agent (State set that up) and it was/is both helpful and incredibly frustrating. But that's a story for another day.
March was business as usual. Which was good because I was going crazy with the whole Uganda/Istanbul trip.
April isn't over yet, but so far I've gotten my visa squared away for Bolivia and started the process to get myself officially cleared to travel to post. Also, especially of interest to those of you who are finalists, I'll be helping out at the finalist interviews for the 2012 fellows, which happen this week. So good luck finalists!
Just one last note, throughout the semester (and throughout the entire program really) we get lots of emails about fulfilling all the requirements (clearances, FSOT/FSOA, paperwork, school), getting our funding, and just general housekeeping. It's really important to stay on top of that or you will be off to a bad start in the service. Still, if you are a new fellow, don't be afraid to reach out and ask questions. I had lots of questions early on and I'm sure everyone else does too. The way I see it, you're better off asking now than looking silly later.