On Monday, the weekend after my interview with the Central Europe Office, I had the interview with the Policy Office. The same day, the Policy Officer offered me a position at the office and gave me a liberal singular day to decide. Now, I was in quite a predicament. Should I wait for the Central Europe Office to get back to me? Should I wait for other offices to contact me? Which office do I prefer? I decided, as before, to call for emergency help. On Monday, while at work, I scheduled a call with Dr. Martinez and reached out to the State Department contact from before. Luckily, the civil service officer got back to me. Put simply, she told me “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Dr. Martinez concurred. I felt that, given my interest in both bureaus, I had no reason to not agree as well.
As I was writing my email to accept the offer, I received another email, from the Office of Southern Europe at the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, expressing interest in my application. I had, however, made my decision. My appendage to the advice I received: a bird in the hand is worth three in the bush. When I got home later that day, I found another email, from the Office of Citizen Exchanges at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Delighted at the attention, I nevertheless decided to not think in terms of what if. Second-guessing is not a very rewarding sport. Having accepted an offer from an office, I could breathe a little easier and look forward to my visit to Ukraine without worrying about a chaotic weekend prior to my departure, as I thought would be the case before.
I pieced together the process afterward. After you submit your application, and student programs process the application, each office in the two bureaus you expressed interest in receives your application. Then, each office in each bureau, depending on the need for interns, weighs their interest in your candidacy. Given the decentralized nature of the process, each office reaches out to you, if it is interested, at its own speed. So, unfortunately, rather than taking your pick and scheduling interviews close together, the process is staggered. You don’t find out about interested parties all on the same day, on July 19th as I thought. Instead, you have to make snap judgments about whether to go with the office that contacted you or to wait around the corner.
After accepting the offer from the Policy Office, I had to wait for the start of the security clearance process. At this point, I still had faith in the magical July 19th date; I expected to hear about the next steps as I was on my way to Ukraine. July 19th came and went, and I heard nothing. Then, halfway into August, as I was about to inquire with my point of contact at the Policy Office, I got an email. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to say much about the security clearance process. I will say this, however. The process is long and thorough; so be patient and as thorough on your end as you can be. I was fortunate enough to receive my security clearance; I had the green light to start my internship.
More on that next week.