Began the first two days of orientation. It's been very exciting and most all of my fellow classmates are very interesting and kind people. I'm excited to get to know them all better over the next few weeks.
My class is made up of 45 people. There are 3 other Junior Officer Contracting Officers. Everyone else is a mix of other positions with the majority of the class being made up of Financial Management Officers (Controllers).
The first day consisted of swearing in to the Foreign Service and basic introductory information about the organization, the orientations for the next 5 weeks, and other miscellaneous items. Day 2 was all about various benefits, tax information, insurance, etc. Though there was a very interesting session regarding the assignment process (as in, how they decide which country I will be initially sent to and when).
Regarding the Assignment Process, the initial assignment is a directed assignment. This means that while you have some input in where I would like to go, it is largely influenced by where they have open positions and where they have supervisors available to train. They will factor in family situations, personal interests, and language capabilities as well. For the majority of people in my class, they said we will probably not depart for our first postings until the summer of 2012!
Many of us already knew that it would be quite awhile until we were posted abroad. Additionally, because of my functional position, I already knew the training would be much longer due to the various certifications I would need to attain in order to receive a warrant (ability to obligate government funds).
I'm also betting I'll be sent for language training. If any new hires have a decent background in any language, USAID will encourage that you test out in that language or train you to top it off to the ability where you fulfill the language requirement of a FSO. For all FSOs, they have 3-5 years to gain 18 months of international experience and foreign language capability in order to reach tenure (become a full fledged officer). If they are unable to do that, then they are terminated from service. So one of the main priorities for the coordinators is to provide us with the opportunity to knock out the language requirement as soon as possible. In the event they will need us to go to someplace that requires a different language, then they will train us for that one again so that we're prepared for that particular assignment.
To my surprise, I actually also met 2 other people in USAID that came from St. Louis. One person is in my DLI Class. The other person was hired on before me but he actually worked previously at Boeing! Such a small world. I'll have to talk to them more if I get the chance, particularly the Boeing guy, as I'm curious to how they learned of the Foreign Service.