Dreams of A Diplomat: The 3rd Try

by Just Juan
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“The very best things in life usually don’t happen the first time or the second time” – Mr. Aldo

The epigraph to this post is one of the many great one-liners my Andalusian neighbor from my time in Rota dropped on me during our talks. As I’ve grown much older and wiser in this life, I’ve come to realize that he was exactly right in that the best things in life don’t enter into your life on the first opportunity.

Last month, I attended the National Facilities Management & Technology Conference & Expo (NFMT) in Baltimore. I was in need of some continuing education units as the renewal of my Contracting Officer’s Representative certification is coming up at the end of May. Unlike IFMA Facility Fusion, it was both free and local to the DC area so I made the drive up I-95 to see what it was about. While looking through the many exhibits at the expo, I came across a recruiter from the Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations. We had a very delightful conversation about managing U.S. government facilities abroad—my experience as a military FM and hers as an FSFM. She asked about my interest in the position of note and I told her that it was my “dream job”. She then asked “what’s stopping you from making that dream become a reality” and I responded with my history in pursuit of the role. I also mentioned to her that I wasn’t sure I was 100% ready yet. She chuckled for a brief second before turning serious and saying “Mr. Thomas, based on what you’ve told me in these last 15 minutes or so, I think you’re more than ready”. It was at that point that she made me promise to apply for the next vacancy announcement, which hit the USAJOBS site the day after NFMT. I gave her my word that I’d apply so I did.

Unlike the first 2 times I applied for the Foreign Service Facility Manager position, where I applied late into the vacancy announcement period, I actually started on this application the day it dropped…on March 20th. Also, unlike my first 2 tries, I took my time with it. The announcement was open for a calendar month—it closed last night—and I actually used every bit of that time to perfect my application. I spent 2 weeks adjusting my Federal résumé to accurately reflect my responsibilities and accomplishments over my FM career in the Air Force, at USACE, and in my current position at DOI. I spent another week making sure I was solid on the eligibility questions and the final week was spent working on the essay questions. Of course, this time around, I had a couple of extra things to add into the documents list alongside my SF-50 and my DD Form 214: (1) the official transcript from my master’s program at the Rochester Institute of Technology and (2) my Facility Management Professional credential from IFMA. I didn’t have those to lean on when I applied in December 2013.

I hit that submit button at 7:54pm ET last night, just hours before the announcement was set to expire. Here I am, back in the game. I’m 5 years older in age, 5 years better as a facility manager, 5 years more hungry for this job. As I am in no way worried about the HR screening, the next move for me—and for my family—is now in the hands of the Qualifications Evaluation Panel. It’s their call on whether or not I get a chance to atone for the career-low moment 5 years ago.

EDITOR NOTE: This post was originally written on 4/20/2019 during my 16-month hiatus from The Book of Juan.

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