United Airlines: Rhapsody in Blues & Commas
Camping at Taeanhaean National Park, Korea (태안해안국립공원)


After Flag Day and Swearing-In Day, the next most memorable day in a Foreign Service Officer's career is the date he or she TENURED. 

So what is "tenure"? As one of my friends jokingly stated, "Short of punching your boss in the face, you can't be fired." But as in university/academia world, tenure in the Foreign Service means job security. When Entry Level Officers (ELOs) join the Foreign Service, they are hired on a probationary status as limited-appointment, career "CANDIDATES".  ELOs who fail to achieve tenure within 5 years of joining the Foreign Service are separated from the service. About 5% of FSOs fail to get tenure for one reason or another.

Last Saturday morning, I was awoken by my phone buzzing, alerting me to a new incoming email or diplomatic cable. After waiting for more than four years for this news, here it was. The subject line in bold capital letters read: "RESULTS OF THE SUMMER 2014 TENURE BOARD".  I was too nervous to immediately open the e-mail. So after some strong coffee and mentally preparing ourselves, Mrs. Crab and I opened the email together. And scrolled and scrolled and scrolled until there it was, my name in all caps. Tenured baby!

I won't bore you with the specific requirements for obtaining tenure, but you can read it yourself in the Foreign Affairs Manual: 3 FAM 2240.  But here's the summary from the State Department website: 

"The sole criterion for a positive tenuring decision will be the candidate’s demonstrated potential, assuming normal growth and career development, to serve effectively as a Foreign Service Officer over a normal career span, extending to and including class FS-01."

Technically, I've only been "recommended" for tenure. It's not official until we receive U.S. Senate confirmation. And given the lightning speed and bipartisan cooperation shown by our congress lately, it will likely be many many months before we're commissioned as career FSOs. The next step is promotion from FS-4 (ELO) to FS-3 (mid-career status).

The Foreign Service is my THIRD career (after the military and journalism). I absolutely LOVE my FS job and my consular career track. I intend to make the FS my career, and hopefully have a long & fruitful career in the Foreign Service or until I'm hauled away kicking and screaming at age 65 (mandatory retirement age).