Thursday, February 03, 2005

Receiving Feedback...

I've already begun to receive feedback about the blog, and it has been positive, with a twist of constructive criticism - I'm very pleased. It appears that other than a few obscure references to "taking the fswe" or "got my fswe results" buried deep within various personal blogs; there are no decent [read "well-documented"] step-by-step blogs doggedly following one's progress from the very beginning. This is the primary goal of this blog. I am all too aware that I could easily fail at any one of the milestones, and have to begin again next year. If that happens, it, too, will be documented, and my failure analyzed for improvement.

Anything that could possibly be linked to the FS, or to the application process I have considered to be fair game. Weak in geography? Follow the link to the DoS mailing lists and subscribe to the Country Backgrounds list. Interested in joining a study group? Visit the Yahoo FSWE Group and locate other people in your area. There are no set formulas that will guarantee passing the fswe or the fsoa. The best we can do is to be ourselves and to learn from the world around us.

This documentation of process (blogumentary?) is mine alone, and is to be used more for reference than for guidance. I don't claim to have any great insights or knowledge, just the simple desire to make the world a better place for all of us. Thus I would encourage any readers to learn from my mistakes and use the remainder sparingly. I have enabled comments, so correction or suggestions are gladly welcomed, but I do reserve the right to delete any and all posts that I deem to be superfluous or inappropriate.

The best piece of constructive criticism I received today cautioned me to focus on the fswe preparation cycle rather than trying to prepare for the whole thing simultaneously. This is excellent advice as too many people tend to overestimate their test-taking skills, and prepare solely for the fsoa "filter", only to be extremely disappointed if they don't make the cut in July/August when the results are released. Two of the books on my initial recommended reading post dealt explicitly with FS Life, which are often reserved for OA prep. I read them primarily to determine if this was something I felt I could do; however, especially after reading the Realities book, I rather questioned whether this was something that I could bear to do. And this is critical, because the FS life, although filled with great adventure, is conversely filled with great stress and anxiety, especially if you will be bidding on posts as a family. I did not want to spend inordinate amounts of time preparing for a difficult exam and a stressful interview simply to discover that this was something that I had no desire to do. It requires total commitment from the beginning. I came away from the books resolved and encouraged, hence the decision to register for the exam. I think I can do this. I also feel so strongly about this resolution, that I have to list these books as must reads, so that other applicants can research and test their own desire to join the FS.

Hopefully, this clarifies my position and my intentions. Now I can turn fully to the FSWE preparation cycle, focusing my energies on the different aspects of the exam itself. Occasionally I may reference something that deals with the fsoa, but prior to taking the fswe, it will most likely be placed there for future use.

In conclusion, if this blog helps me in some small way to achieve my goal, then I will have succeeded; if it helps anyone else, then I am glad to have been of service, and I look forward to seeing you on the other side!