Fittingly, this week's FS blog round-up is exactly what I was going to write about anyway - my dream post. So here goes!
As you (may) know, I just started A-100. Before the class I was free to speculate and assume all I wanted about the bid list. And I wasn't the only one making assumptions. Once they handed out the lists I think everyone in my class had a least one moment when they thought, 'Gosh, I was really counting on/hoping for X'. (More Turkey, less China, more POL, less CON, you name it.) And I know for a fact that quite a few of us noticed with a bit of anxiety that there's a whole lot of, shall we say, Ickystan, on the list. Suddenly I went from speculating about 'the perfect first post' to swallowing a rather large dose of reality.
It's one thing to promise that you are worldwide available. It is another thing to be staring down the pipe at two long years in one of your 'well as long as they don't send me to X' countries. The orientation staff have worked hard to impress upon us the truism/platitude that there are no bad posts in the Foreign Service, only bad attitudes. That may be true, but it is hard to ignore the suspicion that certain posts are labeled 'hard to fill' for a reason.
Anyway, back to answering the question.
Prior to A-100 I had a very straightforward idea of my dream post(s). I want to go to Morocco, Cairo, Rio, Capetown, Istanbul, Fiji. In short, all the places that everyone probably wants to go. (I don't have any illusions about spending my entire career in these places, but once isn't too much to ask, right?) In fact, a year ago I did a whole list of my preferred posts and it's been very enlightening to compare it with my current bids and see how much has changed.
I'm finding that my highs, mediums and lows don't mesh very well with what I expected. To the extent that my dream posts are on the list (barely) I'm bidding them high, even if I can't actually have them due to timing. Otherwise it's all over the map. All of my top 3 posts came from my original 'neutral' (read YUCK) list. Several 'posts I would survive' are now medium bids, and the whole list in general has turned on it's head. This is not so much because my lifestyle preferences have changed - I still enjoy driving and religious freedom for example - just that I found that bidding is a lot more about career goals than vacation plans. I'd still like to end up in some of those awesome places, but I've toned down my expectations about the path it will take to get there.
In short, the dream stayed the same, but the plan has changed.
So there it is folks. The likelihood of a dream post this time around is hovering somewhere around 0%, BUT the likelihood of a really challenging post that gives me lots of equity that maybe helps me get a dream post next time? It's looking pretty good. Either way I don't have to wait much longer. October 12th is Flag Day and the dream, for better or worse, becomes reality. Until then, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to color coding my list.