A CPO Diplomat’s life for me? Life as a diplomat ….?
Yo ho, ho – and a bottle of orange juice? …. Oops I mean, a CPO Diplomat’s life for me? Hmmm maybe or maybe not? But there are different options… but before we go exploring plan B options let’s also look at how difficult it is to get into the diplomatic core.
I remember my first awakening to this world. We were at a university bible study meeting for the Navigators and a fellow named Scott started chatting with me … I come from a fairly small town along the beaches of the Great Lakes … which I mentioned to him and he said, “Oh I will be swimming in the Indian Ocean for Christmas.” I said what? In confusion … looking out at the snow ( … and dreaming of tropical beaches far away) … seeing my small town mind had never come against such a being …. India???? I said??? Ocean??? I said. And he said, “Yes my parents work for the embassy as diplomats and we have lived all over the world” … He said matter of factly, “We were in Russia on our last posting!” Well it was a world I didn’t even know existed except distantly as the background of some adventure movie.
My imagination was piqued.
I said to him, “ I have lived in the same place all my life … surrounded by the same friends and family forever.”
..and he looked at me with envy and said, “I wish I had a life like yours ….” … and I was thinking likewise …. J
Canada Diplomatic – Foreign Service Officers
Canadian FSO’s work in five different service areas such as in International Trade, Political and Economic Service, Management and Consular Service, Foreign Service Administrative Assistant, International Development ……
So those are the perks, but the negatives are that only 1.4% of applicants are selected and are hired (which is pretty slim pickings …), you need to change postings every 2-4 years which is hard on families; moreover, you need to usually be proficient in French.
Getting In Through the Back Door – Plan B?
Having said that – I knew of 2 folks who got in via the back door – so to speak … The first one was Nate (not real name) who was a teacher and went to the embassy each Sunday seeing they had a catholic service there. He made connections and found out there was a position for an Education program promotion initiative and went out for the embassy promoting their education programs. It was a program run by the Canadian government and he heard about it through the embassy.
The other backdoor entry was by a Dutch international student who was fluent in Dutch, French, and Chinese. So she got a job at the Canadian Embassy in the office. A certain number of local people also who were good at English also got jobs there doing security and office work. Depending on your visa, you can see if you can snag some work at the various embassies depending what languages you know, especially English.
American Diplomatic – Foreign Service Officers
In the American system it also has a grueling exam entrance system and entrance is said to be more difficult than getting into Harvard. After passing through the training system and language training programs – postings are often to Spartan or dangerous areas to demonstrate commitment.
Having said that while American FSOs are usually hired … there are some hiring of American internationals students, FSO family members – especially in linked government programs. At least that has been my observation while overseas.
The British, Indian, New Zealand, Australian and South African Foreign Service Officer entrance programs are much the same from what I gather of talking to them.
As an international school teacher I have had the pleasure to meet with many students from diplomat families, visiting diplomats for student talks, co-worker teachers whose spouses were diplomats and visiting embassies for the Model United Nations talks.
The diplomat’s life is an exciting one with frequent changes from country postings to postings. However there are some backdoors as mentioned above, not to mention governmental, United Nation, business linked programs and occasionally NGO connections.
I knew of one foreign student who even got a job working for the United Nations after studying German in Vienna.
Reflecting On My First Meeting …
Reflecting on my first meeting with Scott and his Christmas’ swimming in the Indian Ocean, many years later I too find myself doing outreach everywhere across the world…
I even met a fellow teacher from India who worked at our school while her spouse was working in the Indian Embassy here. … and now she is posted in Paris with two lovely children.
So what do you think? Is the yo ho, ho – diplomat life for you? If you are interested then contact you government to see what are the requirements for you?
By CPO, From the Far Side of the Planet