I can't just pick the 30 best places, I have certain requirements I must meet. For example, all officers must speak a second language by the end of their second tour. As I am still on language probation, I MUST bid on positions that are language designated. So, say good bye to London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canberra, and Dublin. All officers must spend at least one year in consular, so those officers who did political, econ, PD, or management on the first tour must only bid on consular jobs. If you were in a non-hardship post (10% differential or less), half your bids must be at hardship posts (15% or greater). If you've served your consular tour, then you must bid on at least 6 'in-cone' positions. You cannot be in training for more than 78 total weeks for your first two tours (this generally means if you got a full language course before your first tour, you won't get one before your second tour). For me, I am required to bid on any language designated position in any job with at least 6 consular bids; I have no restrictions on hardship or training time.
Despite all the above restrictions, the real challenge is figuring out the timing. I have to look at the time that I will leave post (somewhere between June 1 and June 30, 2012), add my home leave (between 1 month and 6 weeks), functional training such as pol/econ or public diplomacy training (anywhere from 0 weeks for consular jobs to 12 weeks for GSO jobs), and language training (between 24 weeks for world languages and 36 weeks for German and 'super-hard' languages like Mandarin) and then calculate which month I can arrive. If I can arrive the exact month that the position is vacant than it is a 'valid bid.' If I can arrive one month after the position opens or finish training two months before it opens, then it is an 'imperfect bid.' If the timing doesn't work, then it is an invalid bid. I must submit 30 bids, at least 22 must be 'valid' and up to 8 can be 'imperfect.' I cannot submit any 'invalid' bids. Fewer than 100 of the almost 300 bids are 'valid' or 'imperfect.' So, goodbye Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Slovenia, Madrid, Havana, Mexico City, Bogota, Caracas, and Athens.
Here is where I got really 'lucky' on my bid list. I prefer to learn a more unique language rather than one which is used in lots of countries. So, I would rather not learn Spanish, French, Russian, or Arabic, which are used in dozens of countries. Lots of other officers feel differently about this and want to learn these languages, but I like the idea of the more boutique languages. So, when the list went from 300 jobs to less than 100 possibilities due to the timing issues, I was ecstatic to see that many of the posts that were eliminated were the posts I didn't really want to go to anyway.
So, where did I want to go? You may recall my ranking of all the posts I did a few months back. Five of my top seven posts made it on to my bid list as valid or imperfect bids. I would like to go to Europe for my next post, but honestly didn't consider it likely. Now, almost half of my bids will be in EUR. While I still doubt I will be able to get my top choice (revealed below), I've seen how hard it can be to make a desired post a valid bid. So, even if someone with higher equity WANTS to go where I want to go, he or she may not be able to make it work with all of the timing and other restrictions.
My list isn't due until a week from Monday, but here is my unofficial top 30. After seeing this list, you will now see why I think it is so awesome. I have bids to every region except SCA and jobs in every cone but management.
- Prague (different job)
- Sao Paolo
- Tirana, Albania
- Phenom Penh, Cambodia
- Tel Aviv
- Vilnius, Lithuania
- Tirana (different job)
- Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
- Bangkok (different job)
- Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (formerly Saigon)
- Hanoi, Vietnam
Pretty awesome list, huh?