Matamoros, Mexico: Washington, D.C.:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Foreign Service as a First Job, Part 1.5

So, you've probably noticed that my "series" of blog entries about the Foreign Service as a First Job has kind of stalled a little.

After I posted it, I was pleased. I thought it did a decent job of explaining an interesting paradigm of my new job and would perhaps be found useful by others who may be experiencing (or about to experience) the same thing. Before I decided to release it into the wild, wild internet, I had a conversation with myself about whether or not I should post it.

I had always heard stories from other blogs/bloggers that the "State Department tigers" were watching our blogs and that you can run into trouble with the Department for posting things that they think you shouldn't. Obviously, I understand privacy concerns, which is why I have refrained from telling some of the hilarious/heartbreaking/interesting stories of interviews on the visa line, why I have not posted pictures of my home or others I work with, and why I haven't shared any of their names (and never will). I've made a point to only publish innocuous, seemingly pointless posts to avoid whatever possible repercussion lies within the Department. I love my job, and I hope to make a long career out of it. I would hate for a single blog post along the way to ruin something for me.

Then again, those who know me know that I think best in conversation. A blog post, for me, is a snippet of a conversation, perhaps a jumping-off point for a real life discussion. As a result, I finally decided that my previous blog posts have been mundane enough that it could be posted without fear of misinterpretation, misunderstanding, or worse, reprisal.

Don't worry. No one from the Department - or anyone, really - has said anything about it. I'm sure it's fine, and I reasonably assume it will never cause problems for me down the road in my job. But that's not to say it won't.

If you're wondering about that last part, just check out one of my blogger friends over at Muttering Behind the Hardline. The blogger, who goes by the pseudonym No Double Standards, shuttered his blog last week for unspecified reasons. He noted that the "tigers" didn't come after him, but something must have happened that made this prolific writer and mainstay in the Foreign Service blogging community wrap things up so abruptly. Farewell, NDS.

As for me, I'm back to contemplating my blog and the (de)merits of having it. On the one hand, I love describing to you my life in the FS and new things I'm learning (or unlearning.) On the other hand, I'd hate for one of my posts to one day cause trouble for me at a future post or bureau.

With that said, the rest in my series of the Foreign Service as a First Job is, as we like to say in the Consular division, in "administrative processing." I 221g'd my own blog (if you've never worked in visas, you won't get that) for now, in the hopes that soon I'll regain the courage of speaking just a little bit of my mind here in this corner of the internet.

If you're one of those State Department "tigers" reading this, well.. hello, and welcome. I hope you enjoy my blog. Also, please read this before you go.

Until next time...peace.


  1. I was initially worried about what I should and shouldn't post on here. As a general rule, I think you never mention names in violation of the Privacy Act, and you should always use tact. But, I have found that State generally encourages these blogs. I was actually contacted by the people at and they linked to my blog from their site.

    All this is to say - if you are someone who is headed to big things in the foreign service, you are also the type of person who is unlikely to blog something you shouldn't.

  2. You did do a nice job of explaining the early stages of FS life in your series. Thanks for posting them.

    As for the issue of posting things that the tigers don't want FS'ers to, that's a tough one. I can see it from both sides. For example, even though you would never post names and specific facts, sometimes it's not too difficult to figure out who or what FS bloggers are writing about. Another example, as you discuss, is that benign facts today could be toxic tomorrow. Either way, I hope you can continue posting in detail. Reading FS blogs like this are interesting and informative for FS hopefuls like myself and I believe they help us make the decision to apply or not.

  3. Hey! Keep're doing a good job.