Sunday, August 1, 2021

I Got Tenure! And It Didn't Even Take Ten Years...

My puns may actually be getting worse over time. But that's not the purpose of today's blog post, which is about how I just got tenure! If you've heard of tenure before, the first thing that probably popped into your head was tenure for a professor at a university. The Foreign Service has its own version of tenure that's a little different.

When you first join the Foreign Service as an entry-level officer (ELO, what used to be called a junior officer), you're technically a "career candidate" until you get tenured. You can be in career candidate status for up to five years, but you need to get tenured to be commissioned as a full Foreign Service Officer. The idea is that you have the time you're serving as a career candidate to demonstrate that you can succeed over a full Foreign Service career. You can read all the nitty gritty details in the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) if you're so inclined; the relevant section is 3 FAM 2240.

After three years, you get what's called your "first look" at tenure. A tenure board made up of volunteers from around the Foreign Service (plus one public member who is not part of the Foreign Service) reviews all the candidates who are up for tenure that cycle and selects whom to recommend. If you fail to get tenure during your first look, you get a second look a year later. If the board thinks you still need more time to demonstrate you make the cut, you can get a third look six months after your second look.

So what are they using to decide whether you should get tenure? Your Employee Evaluation Reports, known as EERs. Tenure and promotion are the reasons EERs are so important. The vast majority of career candidates get tenured, so most ELOs don't have too much to be worried about. I didn't get tenured on my first look, but plenty of my classmates didn't, either. Many of us (including me) were tenured on our second look.

Tenure means I get to stay in the Foreign Service! (If you are not recommended for tenure, you are separated from the Service.) It also means I can now do things that only tenured officers can do, like out-year language bid (i.e., bid early on language-designated jobs where I have an active language score). It's a nice feeling to be tenured. Plus, since the tenure board results were announced across the Department of State I received a flurry of congratulatory messages from friends and colleagues around the world. M and I also had a fancy meal to celebrate the good news (where we snapped the photo at the top of this post).

Here's to one major Foreign Service milestone completed! I'm excited to see what's next.

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