Posted: 12:20 am EDT
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A few years back, the State Department’s Family Liaison Office established the Global Employment Initiative (GEI) to help Foreign Service family members with career development and exploration of employment opportunities while posted overseas. The program employs Global Employment Advisors (GEAs) reportedly to provide on-site job coaching sessions, training workshops, and career development services at no cost to family members. They also “offer networking assistance, information regarding volunteer projects, and support family members’ efforts to engage in the local economy.”
Our overall experience with this initiative was not at all impressive. A locally hired U.S. citizen got the GEI advisor gig at post and spouses interested in networking and finding jobs got on a meet and greet with a couple American companies operating in the host country. But not a single EFM ended up with a job at post or a career plan through GEI.
There is, of course, the advantage of hiring a local U.S. citizen as GEI advisor, presuming that the individual already has an existing local network and need not have to build one from scratch. But it also has a disadvantage of hiring someone who has no idea how the system works. And that’s how you get a GEI advisor telling an EFM to make handicrafts for sale on Etsy. Because obviously, if you’re an EFM entrepreneur, the Foreign Affairs Manual does not have anything but lots of recommendations for you!
Blog comment: State’s so-called “global employment initiative” is a complete joke (well, except that nobody’s laughing about it). After two assignments I have *never* heard of someone who got a job through GEI. The only thing our regional GEI person ever said that made any sense was “State Department does not owe you a job.” Of course, I never said it did, but that was irrelevant as she then segued into telling me to start a cooking blog or make hand-woven baskets to sell on Etsy.
Image via FAMER, November 2014 (pdf)
(click for larger view)
We wanted to learn more about this initiative, its funding, its results. How effective is it in assisting Foreign Service spouses overseas. How many GEI advisors have been hired to-date since its creation? How many spouses have been helped by the initiative in finding jobs, starting a business, developing career plans, etc. We also wanted to know what is the annual budget for this initiative, and if the return justify the investment. We’ve reached out to the GEI office at the State Department last week but we have not heard anything back to-date.
If you have a personal experience with the Global Employment Initiative — if you’ve found a job, started a business, created a successful career plan, or able to develop a career through GEI while posted overseas, let us hear from you in the comments section or send us an email. We will have a follow-up post if we have enough response.
In related news, State/FLO would like to explore ways to connect family members with professional telework opportunities and is conducting a survey until the end of March to determine the skills, education and experience of family members in the Foreign Service:
The Family Liaison Office (FLO) is investigating ways to connect interested family members with professional telework opportunities. To do this, we need current statistics on the education, skills, and experience of our Foreign Service family members. The questions were developed with input from the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW), the non-profit Foreign Service community organization. FLO will use this information to more effectively communicate with companies and organizations about the advantages of hiring talented mobile professionals. Your responses are anonymous and the survey should take less than 5 minutes to complete.
We understand that the FLO intends to use this information to “more effectively communicate with companies and organizations about the advantages of hiring talented mobile professionals.” We wanted to know if this outreach includes hiring managers at the State Department and/or USAID, and other federal agencies for telework opportunities. We’ve asked but have not heard a response to this specific question.
Why were we asking?
If the State Department is trying to impress “companies and organizations” to take advantage of hiring talented mobile professionals who are Foreign Service members, but the agency itself will not hire them to take advantage of their talent — well, what message does that say?
They’re smashingly great, hire them to telework for you because we won’t?