Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Last Day Home

In January 2020 I started working (well I went to training and then started working in March 2020... we all know what happened next) in a Civil Service position in DC for Consular Affairs.  An important note - the section was created specifically for Eligible Family Members of Foreign Service Officers who were back in DC for a couple years. When we moved to Pennsylvania in 2022 I switched to full-time remote.  For the months back in the DC area in summer 2023 I went back to the office.  It was a great arrangement.  Unfortunately, when I was hired I knew that my job was a limited-term appointment.  I haven't figured out the purpose of limited-term appointments, but there you have it, it was a two-year limited-term appointment with the option to renew for a second two-year term.  I knew that come January 2024, I was out of a job.

One positive thing that came out of the pandemic was the transition to telework.  I know it's being reevaluated now, and for some good reasons.  However, the office I was hired into is, at its heart, a remote position.  The name literally had "Remote" in its name because it was an office in DC that worked on cases in other countries.  The pandemic made it work that much better as the State Department was forced to really amp up remote capabilities.  The expansion of DETO, telework, and remote work was awesome and allowed me to work in PA even easier than it had before. 

What didn't change was the four-year term limit.

Well, I should say that due to an awesome amount of work by our supervisors, it did change.  With the recognition of how important the Remote office was, particularly during the pandemic when we continued processing visas while missions were closed globally, the wheels turned and in the beginning of 2023, the Remote officer personnel were transitioned to real Civil Service positions with no term-limit.  This means they can keep their jobs as long as they want, while they are in DC but also bringing the job with them as they move to posts abroad or even just moving to other states to be closer to family.  

But it didn't apply to everyone.  

For some reason it only applied to employees with still valid NCE or Non-Competitive Employment status.  Eligible Family Members (EFMs) earn an NCE after working 52 weeks at a mission overseas.  It's good for three years, and the clock starts ticking the day you land in the U.S.  It gives EFMs a leg up in the hiring process.  Why did it only apply to those employees?  I never got a real answer for that, but suffice to say that my NCE kicked in the summer of 2019 and expired 2022.  By the time early 2023 rolled around my NCE had long expired and so even though I had been there the longest, folks who just started were now guaranteed a forever job if they wanted and I just watched the looming expiration date draw ever closer.  

On a side note, even though I had proven that I could do my job remotely for a year, the vacancies advertised in the same section were all in-person only, so I couldn't even apply for my own job.  Yeah....

I was a little bitter, but OK, because we were going to Haiti and I had already lined up a job there.  It was a decision between trying to apply for remote job from some CA office  or joining my new community and really being present.  I went with the latter.

Then we didn't go to Haiti.  So now I didn't have an onward job, and I'd run out of time trying to figure out a DC job that might allow me to jump right into remote work.  ARG.

Toronto is severely understaffed.  It's a problem in developed countries where the USG pays a certain salary amount, isn't flexible, and have you seen the cost of rent here??  Yeah, they can't hire people even with how understaffed they are.  However I can't work in the consular section because... Ian.  And I'm not really qualified to work anywhere else because consular work is very niche.  There's something that might work out in the future (I'll let you know), but in the meantime I'm going to branch out into a position where I'll learn a lot and hopefully feel good while doing it.  I'm nervous.  I'm anxious.  Yeah, I'm scared.

I've thoroughly enjoyed being home since we moved into this apartment on December 3, but this is the end of my quiet days watching the snow and enjoying all the homemaking.  I was doing Ian's laundry... yeah, that's gonna stop!  I crocheted a couple blankets.  I made cookies.  I organized shelves and cleared out junk, and watched some TV Ian doesn't like.  I started reading again and I restarted this blog.

We'll see what keeps happening and what amount of brain space I have left over at the end of the workday (knowing myself... for the first few weeks - NOT MUCH).  That's what I'm going to miss the most, and I know how lucky I am to have had this time so don't hate me because it's hard to give up.


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