The Foreign Service Journal, April 2012

F OCUS ON FS F AMI LY M EMBER E MPLOYMENT P ATIENCE : T HE K EY TO S UCCESSFUL EFM E MPLOYMENT 26 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / A P R I L 2 0 1 2 t was just about 14 years ago that we started on our Foreign Service adventure. After years of regaling me with tales of safaris, overseas travel and ex- citing job opportunities, Peter became a Diplomatic Se- curity special agent in 1998. I gleefully accepted my own challenge by becoming an Eligible Family Member — even though I was three months pregnant at the time. Due to the nature of the job, my husband’s age and his work experience, we took a bit of a pay cut. So, de- spite my pregnancy, I kept my full-time position at a non- profit. But soon I realized that the job was just that, not a career, and became eager to move overseas to find my niche in the Foreign Service world. As soon as Peter first broached the Foreign Service option to me, I began dreaming of working in exotic lo- cales, whether in the embassy or consulate or for a local business. I would become fabulously fluent in the local language and have no trouble “finding my passion,” one that would easily transfer from post to post. Naive, per- haps, but that naiveté kept me going through six months of training, and more travel for my husband than I thought possible during his first year at the field office. Given that it was also the first year of life for Caitlin, our eldest child, it was a demanding time for us all! The bid list for 2000 contained about 20 positions, but jobs in South America topped the list for us. Within two months, Peter had a handshake on an Assistant Regional Security Officer position in Caracas. After only 14 months in the field office, he was suddenly immersed in RSO training and language school. Given the tumultuous schedule of the previous year, I finally realized that working full time was no longer an option. I turned in my notice. I was thrilled to register at the Foreign Service Institute for a morning class that would put me well on my way to fluency in Spanish. The Best-Laid Plans Since I was no longer employed, there were no extra funds for day care. To make the schedule work, I had to E LIGIBLE F AMILY M EMBERS CAN LAND AMAZING JOBS WITH THE RIGHT COMBINATION OF FLEXIBILITY , PREPARATION AND , YES , LUCK . B Y J EN D INOIA Jen Dinoia is the spouse of Peter Dinoia, a special agent with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, whom she has ac- companied to domestic postings in Virginia and Califor- nia and overseas postings in Caracas (where she worked in the U.S. embassy) and Reykjavik (where she worked for the International School of Iceland). A longtime volunteer with Associates of the American Foreign Service World- wide, she is the founder and moderator of the DS Spouse Yahoo group, moderates the Livelines listserv and b logs at m.