I probably have the best job in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (well at my grade anyway), so I thought I should share the experience. Mainly with anyone thinking of working for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), but also for anyone else who wants to know what kind of things we are doing around the world. So welcome to my new blog. This is my first overseas job and involves travelling the world to our various missions, covering for staff temporarily absent for one reason or another. I spend between 3 weeks and 3 months in each place and the whole thing will last for two years in total. My first assignment was Panama in June 2007 after three (rather long, but stimulating) years in London and six months of training courses. A downside is my job title’s unfortunate connotations – World-wide Floater – but I can just about live with that.
You join me in one of the more cushy postings – Victoria in the Seychelles. So yes, it’s all amazing beaches, palm trees and jealous friends and relatives. The sea is an incredible colour ranging from jade green and turquoise to deep electric blue. I’ve only been here two weeks and leave for my next post in another two, but I have hit that point where I feel settled and new possibilities are opening up. With my pale Celtic skin, I have decided that I am better off under the sea rather then turning into a human lobster next to it on the beach, so I have started diving. And that is leading to new friends and a preoccupation with understanding the physics of pressure.
So what exactly do I do? Well pretty much any of the jobs relevant to my grade (I joined as a mainstream graduate, called “operational entrants”). That means consular work (passports and helping Brits in distress mainly), visa work, management work (supervising the accounts, day-to-day operation of the mission, countless information returns to London), some IT and admin support, event organising, tea making and any other random request. It also explains why I spent so long in training. I have covered jobs at the grade below and up to three grades above so far (which is a brilliant opportunity for development) and in very different environments from Sierra Leone to Denmark. That is why for me, this is the best job I could have chosen. When it is time for me to pick another overseas posting, where I will remain for typically 3 – 4 years, I will know what job I want, what size of post and where I think I’d like. And that’s not to mention the amazing time I’m having in all these different countries that I would never normally get to see. This is the reason I joined the FCO and I love it.