Dreams of A Diplomat: Training Days

by Just Juan
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“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more than you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

I’m not going to lie. When I saw the epigraph in my database of quotes, I was shocked to find out that it’s been in there since August 2002. I’m in absolute amazement that the 17-year-old version of myself thought this was important enough to write down for future use. Anyway, last week was the unofficial end of the Facility Manager Tradecraft course. For the past 13 weeks or so—not counting the 2-week dead period at the very end of December, when the government is basically closed for the holidays—I’ve been taking in the basics of overseas facility management operations and the functions of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations. It’s been an awesome experience…sometimes boring, sometimes with unnecessary information but nevertheless a great time.

In addition to my 8 fellow Facility Manager cohort from Orientation, there are 3 other Facility Managers in the course with us. They started with the Foreign Service back in January and had to wait until we came on board to start tradecraft. Much like we were all new to this as Foreign Service Facility Managers, our instructor was new to the teaching aspect…though he has a wealth of experience as an FSFM. There were some growing pains because of that but nothing that we couldn’t adjust to.

The course was actually pretty robust. We covered a lot of material. There were classes on project management, construction safety, asbestos and environmental stuff, security stuff, and contracting stuff. We also had a class on the work order system, a comprehensive class on funding, and a basic class that spent 3 weeks introducing us to the world of OBO. It was mostly virtual training too because the Foreign Service Institute is closed because of COVID-19. We had a couple of in-person classes though…the HVAC fundamentals and electrical power generation classes.

I thought it was a great course. Actually, we didn’t exactly finish it because a couple of classes got postponed. I’ll have to probably take those in Colombia because by the time they are back in the regular tradecraft cycle, I’ll be deep into Spanish. Anyway, I learned a lot in Facility Manager Tradecraft. I learned about OBO budgets and funding, how to do annual inspection surveys, and a lot about fire alarms and physical security. I think I’m prepared enough to be a very effective Deputy Facility Manager at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia. But you know what they say in this industry: “the best way to learn is by actually doing it”.

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