38% pay cut for dream job?

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minet
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38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by minet » Sat Sep 15, 2018 8:20 pm

Hi. Long time lurker here in need of wise advice.

Background: I'm early 40s, married, no children but we're in the (long) process of adopting and would like to adopt at least twice over the next few years. Wife is currently stay at home (best for us) and will be a stay at home mom to home school our children.

Current job situation: I work in DC as a government contractor and have been doing it in various capacities for 15 years. Typical PM and management analyst role (not IT or engineering) for those who are familiar with this world.

My current contract is ending so I found a new Program Manager position. Salary is $145k with three weeks of paid time off (PTO) and standard health benefits package. That's about the same pay I have been getting for 7+ years (I've capped out) except I currently have four weeks of PTO so not excited about the cut in benefits. The pay is enough for us and allows me to max 401k and fully fund our Roth IRAs along with nice vacations, etc.

The problem with the new job is that I hate government contracting and have been ready to do something different for years. However, given my experience it's been very difficult to find something outside of government (my subject matter is specific to government).

Enter new job: I just received an invite to the A-100 class to be a Foreign Service Officer. I've been going through the process for about two years and never thought I'd get this far and be selected. The position is a dream job that would provide excellent and interesting training, growth, travel, excellent benefits, and job stability until I retire. Starting pay is around $90k based on my experience, which is very difficult to live on in DC but I would only be here for a year or so on that salary before going overseas where my housing and related expenses would be paid.

The conundrum: I feel a little old to go back to an entry level position and take such a large pay cut, but this job is one my wife and I would really enjoy. We both want to live around the world and raise our future children living in different countries. The pay cut would make it VERY hard to live in DC when we are back here for mandatory 2-3 year rotations, but would be good living rent free overseas. Although starting as entry level, as a Foreign Service Officer I would be doing work on behalf of the U.S. and have larger responsibilities than most DC area low-level positions.

Our finances: We have zero debt and do not own a home. Total retirement and taxable accounts are about $575k. We are Bogleheads and use a 70/30 stock/bonds (and cash) allocation.

Decision: I have a couple days to decide. Government contracting is always unstable and I hate it. The benefits are good compared to service sector jobs, but not very good compared to most white collar professionals. Regardless of whether I accept the Foreign Service invite, I will have to leave contracting for my own sanity and happiness but will likely take a lower paying job that I'm not very passionate about. I've been looking outside of DC for two years and haven't landed an interview yet. I have soft skills and experience specific to government work.
With the Foreign Service, I would not have to worry about applying for a new job again and would even be eligible for a pension (including health care) after twenty years. At that point, we would also have two decades of additional growth on our current portfolio.

Thanks to anyone who read this far and can offer wisdom or advice. Is this entry level position worth taking a big cut in salary to achieve our dream of living around the world and serving in a position that we believe is meaningful? The most difficult part for us would be making ends meet while required to serve in DC at a lower salary.

Thank you!

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fortfun
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by fortfun » Sat Sep 15, 2018 8:49 pm

minet wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 8:20 pm
Hi. Long time lurker here in need of wise advice.

Background: I'm early 40s, married, no children but we're in the (long) process of adopting and would like to adopt at least twice over the next few years. Wife is currently stay at home (best for us) and will be a stay at home mom to home school our children.

Current job situation: I work in DC as a government contractor and have been doing it in various capacities for 15 years. Typical PM and management analyst role (not IT or engineering) for those who are familiar with this world.

My current contract is ending so I found a new Program Manager position. Salary is $145k with three weeks of paid time off (PTO) and standard health benefits package. That's about the same pay I have been getting for 7+ years (I've capped out) except I currently have four weeks of PTO so not excited about the cut in benefits. The pay is enough for us and allows me to max 401k and fully fund our Roth IRAs along with nice vacations, etc.

The problem with the new job is that I hate government contracting and have been ready to do something different for years. However, given my experience it's been very difficult to find something outside of government (my subject matter is specific to government).

Enter new job: I just received an invite to the A-100 class to be a Foreign Service Officer. I've been going through the process for about two years and never thought I'd get this far and be selected. The position is a dream job that would provide excellent and interesting training, growth, travel, excellent benefits, and job stability until I retire. Starting pay is around $90k based on my experience, which is very difficult to live on in DC but I would only be here for a year or so on that salary before going overseas where my housing and related expenses would be paid.

The conundrum: I feel a little old to go back to an entry level position and take such a large pay cut, but this job is one my wife and I would really enjoy. We both want to live around the world and raise our future children living in different countries. The pay cut would make it VERY hard to live in DC when we are back here for mandatory 2-3 year rotations, but would be good living rent free overseas. Although starting as entry level, as a Foreign Service Officer I would be doing work on behalf of the U.S. and have larger responsibilities than most DC area low-level positions.

Our finances: We have zero debt and do not own a home. Total retirement and taxable accounts are about $575k. We are Bogleheads and use a 70/30 stock/bonds (and cash) allocation.

Decision: I have a couple days to decide. Government contracting is always unstable and I hate it. The benefits are good compared to service sector jobs, but not very good compared to most white collar professionals. Regardless of whether I accept the Foreign Service invite, I will have to leave contracting for my own sanity and happiness but will likely take a lower paying job that I'm not very passionate about. I've been looking outside of DC for two years and haven't landed an interview yet. I have soft skills and experience specific to government work.
With the Foreign Service, I would not have to worry about applying for a new job again and would even be eligible for a pension (including health care) after twenty years. At that point, we would also have two decades of additional growth on our current portfolio.

Thanks to anyone who read this far and can offer wisdom or advice. Is this entry level position worth taking a big cut in salary to achieve our dream of living around the world and serving in a position that we believe is meaningful? The most difficult part for us would be making ends meet while required to serve in DC at a lower salary.

Thank you!
What is the percentage, of your salary, will the pension be? If after 20 years, 75% or greater, you should be okay for retirement, if you let that 575k grow the entire time. The main variable will be if you can stick with that job for 20 years, if you are depending on the pension. Otherwise, you may need to save a substantial amount of the 90k into another retirement plan. It's hard to say if one can stick with a job to reach the pension date.

sneukam
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by sneukam » Sat Sep 15, 2018 8:54 pm

Hi Minet,

You should absolutely take this job. You have been looking for an 'out' for years, and your dream opportunity just came knocking. You and your family can make the money work - it will likely only be tight for a few years as your pay increases. And on that note, it sounds like much of your retirement needs are taken care of via this job's pension and health benefits, reducing the nedd for you to reach boglehead level saving and investinf.

My biggest fear is that I'm on this train towards FI and when my version of this opportunity comes for me, I won't have the guts to take the pay cut.

It sounds like you're on solid financial footinng as-is, and have a family behind you who is on board with being financially responsible. You can make the money work, and be able to lead the life you want.

123
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Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:55 pm

Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by 123 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:04 pm

If it's a dream job and situation for you and your spouse you should take it. Financial issues have to be secondary to day-to-day satisfaction in your career and life. Other's "make do" in your situation regarding periodic respites in the DC area and you can as well. I wouldn't worry about being "older" than your cohorts.

I think a career as a Foreign Service Officer would bring a lot of personal satisfaction and a lot of personal growth that you can't get in any other situation.

If you don't take the opportunity I think you'd feel regret about what "could have been" the rest of your life.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

HEDGEFUNDIE
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:06 pm

Do it. You have one life. Make the most of it.

AlphaLess
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by AlphaLess » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:08 pm

Have you considered that part of your job will include espionage, and entail risks?

HEDGEFUNDIE
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:10 pm

AlphaLess wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:08 pm
Have you considered that part of your job will include espionage, and entail risks?
I think you’re confusing the State Dept with the CIA.

AlphaLess
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by AlphaLess » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:13 pm

HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:10 pm
AlphaLess wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:08 pm
Have you considered that part of your job will include espionage, and entail risks?
I think you’re confusing the State Dept with the CIA.
I think you are confusing covert operations with overt operations.

Iorek
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by Iorek » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:16 pm

This does seem like a no brainer to take the job-- it might be harder if the alternative was a stable job you liked less or your spouse wasn't up for it or something.

I guess a couple things you could think about is if the job's reality will match your expectations-- you might see if you can find an FSO to talk to? Also I'm not sure how being posted abroad might affect your plans to adopt?

HEDGEFUNDIE
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:16 pm

AlphaLess wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:13 pm
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:10 pm
AlphaLess wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:08 pm
Have you considered that part of your job will include espionage, and entail risks?
I think you’re confusing the State Dept with the CIA.
I think you are confusing covert operations with overt operations.
So every FSO posted abroad is actually spying for the government? Maybe you’ve read one too many Le Carré novels.

AlphaLess
Posts: 556
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:38 pm

Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by AlphaLess » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:20 pm

HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:16 pm
AlphaLess wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:13 pm
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:10 pm
AlphaLess wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:08 pm
Have you considered that part of your job will include espionage, and entail risks?
I think you’re confusing the State Dept with the CIA.
I think you are confusing covert operations with overt operations.
So every FSO posted abroad is actually spying for the government? Maybe you’ve read one too many Le Carré novels.
Spying is part of it:
- facilitate contacts with foreign government officials and foreign business people,
- cultivating a network,
- finding vulnerabilities in people,
- lobbying for US interests,
- collecting information,
- analyzing information,
- forwarding information to higher echelons,
- attending meetings (and possibly recording them),
- utilizing other humans to get certain tasks done.

So yea, I would say large part of the above qualifies as espionage.

golfCaddy
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by golfCaddy » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:25 pm

You are crazy to take a 38% pay cut, more so with kids on the way. You might think you'll get sent to Paris or some cushy assignment. It's more likely you get sent to some **** country, with bad air quality, poor sanitation, unsafe water, and kidnapping and terrorism risks. If you get sent to a country, like Saudi Arabia, they have very different ideas on gender roles than we do.

gotester2000
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by gotester2000 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:48 pm

You have already made the decision and looking for confirmation here 😊.
Take it. It will widen your view about the world and I am sure after living in some third world countries you will realise that 90k is a lot of money.

SoAnyway
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by SoAnyway » Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:08 pm

Congrats on your acceptance and perseverance over the years, OP!! I agree with others that this is a no-brainer for you, your DW and (hopefully) your future children: Take the job.

Here's what I heard you say:
- "I hate government contracting and have been ready to do something different for years. However, given my experience it's been very difficult to find something outside of government (my subject matter is specific to government)."
- "I've been going through the process for about two years and never thought I'd get this far and be selected. The position is a dream job that would provide excellent and interesting training, growth, travel, excellent benefits, and job stability until I retire."
- "Government contracting is always unstable and I hate it."
- "Regardless of whether I accept the Foreign Service invite, I will have to leave contracting for my own sanity and happiness..."

I don't always agree with Hedgefundie but on this one, we're 100% aligned: You only get one lifetime, OP. You choose how you're going to spend it. And you know better than anyone what YOU can tolerate/will make YOU happy. Based on that last item above, you're going to be leaving GC anyway for your "sanity and happiness". (BTW, you've got your priorities in order, OP - Those 2 things matter a LOT.) Whether you could leave GC for less than this pay cut, who knows. But you've had your sights set on this for a long time, and now it's been laid at your doorstep.

SoAnyway, to put it another way, if you turned it down (for whatever reasons - financial security or otherwise), would you spend the rest of your life wondering, "What if....??" If so, I don't know about you but THAT would be h*ll on earth for me. Just sayin'....

To address some of the other posts:
- Since you've been in the application process for 2+ years, I gather you're well aware of the various risks/disruptions that may occur as a FSO for you and your family - Embassy shutdown and evacuation if in a dangerous situation, etc. FWIW, I have in-laws who served in FS. They had amazing experiences, and to one of the points you made in your posts, their KIDS in particular benefitted tremendously from having been exposed to different cultures, ways of life, etc. at a time when (being kids) they could adapt to anything. Now adults, they are true "citizens of the world." Their parents couldn't be more proud (rightly so), and I look at them in amazement....
- Absolutely network and seek advice/input from anyone and everyone you know who's chosen to serve as FSO so that you're going in with "eyes wide open", but I'm guessing you've already done that.

Going back to the financial aspects, it sounds like you and your wife are on the same page, which is most important. It also sounds like you two (and any adopted kids) who come into the picture could weather the short-term financial hit of being in DC for the initial period. Since you're a BH and already in DC, I'm sure you know what sacrifices you'd have to make (longer commute, whatever) and how you'd go about it if things get tight in that initial DC-period before your first overseas assignment. In short, you've got this, OP.

P.S. If you do accept, I thank you for your service. It keeps us all safe. :happy

Dottie57
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by Dottie57 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:02 pm

My mom had a good friend who went into the Foreign Service. She did well, married and traveled the world, i am sure there were difficulties, but they did well. No spying.

Go for it.

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BL
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by BL » Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:29 pm

It sounds fantastic and your spouse is willing for you to take this dream job. Go for it!

daveydoo
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by daveydoo » Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:31 pm

I agree with the pros and cons above. Relatives did this (well, in-laws) and they have been very happy with young kids. That said, I could never do this; we didn't even want to change school districts.

For things like this, I believe in the path of least regrets. I suspect if you don't take it, you could kick yourself forever. If you took it and found that it wasn't for you, I imagine that you could find another state-side PM job pretty quick.

One wild-card: Would the seeming lack of "stability" impact the adoption process? There's clearly a community that has gone through this but BH may lack critical mass for this niche.
"I mean, it's one banana, Michael...what could it cost? Ten dollars?"

AlohaJoe
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by AlohaJoe » Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:35 pm

You could make up the pay difference by having your wife get a job. So basically the tradeoff you're looking at is: do you pass on your dream job so that your wife doesn't have to work?

FWIW I know a fair number of children of diplomats who are now adults and all of them say it was the best possible childhood and many of them are finding ways to recreate it for their own children (e.g. by actively seeking out jobs in other countries, even if they are a graphic designer & not a diplomat).

ResearchMed
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by ResearchMed » Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:06 am

Taking a "dream job" for a pay cut... Just Do It! :happy

Most people never even have this possibility.

And your children will be remarkably well-rounded and ready to deal with others in so many different ways.

Enjoy!
(I wish I had taken a route like that, although at least I did live overseas for a post-doc, but it was much too short. However, by staying in academia most of the time, I also traded a higher income for work that I often loved, and would have happily have continued to do if I had suddenly become independently wealthy. Having a long-term job that I hated, but with higher pay... a no brainer: Nope.)

RM
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3504PIR
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by 3504PIR » Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:13 am

I don’t know how familiar you are with the career path for a junior foreign service officer, but it kept me from doing the same thing when I was in my early 40s.

In the first 7 years you will be posted to very remote locations for more than half of that 7 years. Botswana type remoteness. You’re allocated a couple of thousand pounds of shipping for things you may like such as coffee or shampoo (for example) which will be tough to buy in local markets.

The majority of FSOs I know have no kids or have their kids in boarding school for stability. Fortunately there is a decent boarding school allowance for State Dept employees. Often those more remote posting won’t allow dependent children to come along due to the various risks associated with some locations.

Once you’ve paid your dues a few times you’ll get a chance to get a posting in a first or second world country.

The whole thing was just a bridge too far for me at 42. Certainly for someone 25 or so coming out of grad school it’s all a great adventure and when they are ready to settle down, they’re eligible for better postings. When I was applying, the requirement was 2 remote 3d world or 4th world postings for a total of 4-5 years, a tour in DC and then a decent embassy.

I hope you’re 100% aware of what this will mean for a young family. In the long run there are huge advantages both professionally and for a family, but there’s a reason very few sign up in their 40s.

gotester2000
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by gotester2000 » Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:40 am

3504PIR wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:13 am
I don’t know how familiar you are with the career path for a junior foreign service officer, but it kept me from doing the same thing when I was in my early 40s.

In the first 7 years you will be posted to very remote locations for more than half of that 7 years. Botswana type remoteness. You’re allocated a couple of thousand pounds of shipping for things you may like such as coffee or shampoo (for example) which will be tough to buy in local markets.

The majority of FSOs I know have no kids or have their kids in boarding school for stability. Fortunately there is a decent boarding school allowance for State Dept employees. Often those more remote posting won’t allow dependent children to come along due to the various risks associated with some locations.

Once you’ve paid your dues a few times you’ll get a chance to get a posting in a first or second world country.

The whole thing was just a bridge too far for me at 42. Certainly for someone 25 or so coming out of grad school it’s all a great adventure and when they are ready to settle down, they’re eligible for better postings. When I was applying, the requirement was 2 remote 3d world or 4th world postings for a total of 4-5 years, a tour in DC and then a decent embassy.

I hope you’re 100% aware of what this will mean for a young family. In the long run there are huge advantages both professionally and for a family, but there’s a reason very few sign up in their 40s.
Are there 2nd/4th world countries?
I thought only 1st and 3rd world countries exist!

HEDGEFUNDIE
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:49 am

gotester2000 wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:40 am
3504PIR wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:13 am
I don’t know how familiar you are with the career path for a junior foreign service officer, but it kept me from doing the same thing when I was in my early 40s.

In the first 7 years you will be posted to very remote locations for more than half of that 7 years. Botswana type remoteness. You’re allocated a couple of thousand pounds of shipping for things you may like such as coffee or shampoo (for example) which will be tough to buy in local markets.

The majority of FSOs I know have no kids or have their kids in boarding school for stability. Fortunately there is a decent boarding school allowance for State Dept employees. Often those more remote posting won’t allow dependent children to come along due to the various risks associated with some locations.

Once you’ve paid your dues a few times you’ll get a chance to get a posting in a first or second world country.

The whole thing was just a bridge too far for me at 42. Certainly for someone 25 or so coming out of grad school it’s all a great adventure and when they are ready to settle down, they’re eligible for better postings. When I was applying, the requirement was 2 remote 3d world or 4th world postings for a total of 4-5 years, a tour in DC and then a decent embassy.

I hope you’re 100% aware of what this will mean for a young family. In the long run there are huge advantages both professionally and for a family, but there’s a reason very few sign up in their 40s.
Are there 2nd/4th world countries?
I thought only 1st and 3rd world countries exist!
The “2nd world” was originally meant to signify the Soviet Union and the “3rd world” the non-aligned countries like India and China. Not originally meant to be socioeconomic labels but that’s how they have ended up.

4th world is a new one to me 🤷‍♂️

3504PIR
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by 3504PIR » Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:39 am

I was using 4th world to illustrate somewhere worse off than what we refer to as 3d world. We use the term loosely in my govt agency, but not officially. There are places worse off than say Haiti where the USSD has a post, usually a consulate, not an embassy.

Ron Scott
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by Ron Scott » Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:46 am

Follow your muse, take this job.

Seize the opportunity.

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celia
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by celia » Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:53 am

I wonder how this job would impact possible adoptions. Even if it is allowed, do you want kids, knowing you may end up putting them in boarding schools while you are adventurous?

Maybe you need to talk to some people who have been in the Foreign Service. I'm not sure if that is compatible with adoption.

hale2
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by hale2 » Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:21 pm

AlphaLess wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:20 pm
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:16 pm
AlphaLess wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:13 pm
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:10 pm
AlphaLess wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:08 pm
Have you considered that part of your job will include espionage, and entail risks?
I think you’re confusing the State Dept with the CIA.
I think you are confusing covert operations with overt operations.
So every FSO posted abroad is actually spying for the government? Maybe you’ve read one too many Le Carré novels.
Spying is part of it:
- facilitate contacts with foreign government officials and foreign business people,
- cultivating a network,
- finding vulnerabilities in people,
- lobbying for US interests,
- collecting information,
- analyzing information,
- forwarding information to higher echelons,
- attending meetings (and possibly recording them),
- utilizing other humans to get certain tasks done.

So yea, I would say large part of the above qualifies as espionage.
As stated above, you've read too many novels or seen too many movies.

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LiveSimple
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by LiveSimple » Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:22 pm

Just do what you think, is right for your family :D

AlphaLess
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by AlphaLess » Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:23 pm

hale2 wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:21 pm
AlphaLess wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:20 pm
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:16 pm
AlphaLess wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:13 pm
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:10 pm


I think you’re confusing the State Dept with the CIA.
I think you are confusing covert operations with overt operations.
So every FSO posted abroad is actually spying for the government? Maybe you’ve read one too many Le Carré novels.
Spying is part of it:
- facilitate contacts with foreign government officials and foreign business people,
- cultivating a network,
- finding vulnerabilities in people,
- lobbying for US interests,
- collecting information,
- analyzing information,
- forwarding information to higher echelons,
- attending meetings (and possibly recording them),
- utilizing other humans to get certain tasks done.

So yea, I would say large part of the above qualifies as espionage.
As stated above, you've read too many novels or seen too many movies.
I disagree. Find 10 career FSOs who have served 20+ years, and poll them: whether I am CLOSER to reality, or you are.

FSOs are DE FACTO spies. They are just NOT COVERT, but rather, overt.
FSOs run into large personal risks all the time.

Iorek
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by Iorek » Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:27 pm

What makes someone a "spy" is the fact that they are covert. Representing US interests publicly and networking among different groups is not what makes someone a spy.

hale2
Posts: 162
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by hale2 » Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:30 pm

AlphaLess wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:23 pm
hale2 wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:21 pm
AlphaLess wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:20 pm
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:16 pm
AlphaLess wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:13 pm


I think you are confusing covert operations with overt operations.
So every FSO posted abroad is actually spying for the government? Maybe you’ve read one too many Le Carré novels.
Spying is part of it:
- facilitate contacts with foreign government officials and foreign business people,
- cultivating a network,
- finding vulnerabilities in people,
- lobbying for US interests,
- collecting information,
- analyzing information,
- forwarding information to higher echelons,
- attending meetings (and possibly recording them),
- utilizing other humans to get certain tasks done.

So yea, I would say large part of the above qualifies as espionage.
As stated above, you've read too many novels or seen too many movies.
I disagree. Find 10 career FSOs who have served 20+ years, and poll them: whether I am CLOSER to reality, or you are.

FSOs are DE FACTO spies. They are just NOT COVERT, but rather, overt.
FSOs run into large personal risks all the time.
Been there, done that. I've worked with plenty of FSOs and State Dept Security (DSS personnel), as well as personnel from other agencies who have a different mission closer to what you describe. I know what I'm talking about.

gmc4h232
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by gmc4h232 » Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:32 pm

golfCaddy wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:25 pm
You are crazy to take a 38% pay cut, more so with kids on the way. You might think you'll get sent to Paris or some cushy assignment. It's more likely you get sent to some **** country, with bad air quality, poor sanitation, unsafe water, and kidnapping and terrorism risks. If you get sent to a country, like Saudi Arabia, they have very different ideas on gender roles than we do.
Second this. If you have no control about where you get sent, then this is a pretty big gamble.

drawpoker
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by drawpoker » Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:41 pm

golfCaddy wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:25 pm
You are crazy to take a 38% pay cut, more so with kids on the way. You might think you'll get sent to Paris or some cushy assignment. It's more likely you get sent to some **** country, with bad air quality, poor sanitation, unsafe water, and kidnapping and terrorism risks. If you get sent to a country, like Saudi Arabia, they have very different ideas on gender roles than we do.
My thoughts too. The world just isn't the same place it was 20 or 30 years ago.

If the OP dislikes many of the aspects of working for the government as a contractor, how can it be any better switching to a bona fide?

staythecourse
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by staythecourse » Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:45 pm

HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:06 pm
Do it. You have one life. Make the most of it.
Here is the issue. It is YOUR life, but your decision will affect up to 3 more people so it is not that quick of a decision. What does your wife think? She will likely be a stay at home mom in some random country (unlikely they will give a newbie anywhere nice, i.e. France) where she will likely not know the language nor have family nearby nor have any inbuilt social network. Then, of course, you have hopefully 2 kids entering the picture. How will they cope. Changing to a new family AND a new country?

I think jobs like this a way more glamorous in thought then in practice to start when you are older and will find MUCH more used to the comforts of America. I am not a natural born U.S. citizen and lived abroad in a third world country for 5 years in by early 20's and can tell you it is NOT that easy to adapt. Much harder if you only know America.

Much to think about just thought would throw a different shade on the option.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

Good Listener
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by Good Listener » Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:39 pm

Is there a reason your wife doesn't work and is she unable to ever contribute financially? If she can home school future planned children, she must have some skills right?

Golf maniac
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by Golf maniac » Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:47 pm

I am retired federal employee and there are positives and negatives:
Poitivies: you seem to be passionate about the change and been going through the process so you should understand the job; the benefits are very good(life time health at employee costs); the lower salary can be at least partially offset by saving when you are stationed overseas; ability to travel can be great for you and your spouse; pension (if under TSP then 1% per year and additional 0.1% per year if retire after 62, don’t know if you have other pension since in foreign service). Work / life balance can be much better.

Negatives: state department can be very structured and preference given to time in service over ability. I was assigned overseas for 3 years and worked out of the embassy. Working with state dept personnel was PAINFUL. This was just my experience, so take it for what it is worth. The possibility to be sent to really bad place in the world. Cost of living when you come back ( but hopefully you do well and have a few raises under your belt). Ability to adopt when the kids could be sent anywhere in the world (not sure how or if this matters in an adoption).

Only you and your spouse can make the decision but I would encourage you to look at all positives and negatives before making the jump. Good luck!

ResearchMed
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by ResearchMed » Sun Sep 16, 2018 3:00 pm

Good Listener wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:39 pm
Is there a reason your wife doesn't work and is she unable to ever contribute financially? If she can home school future planned children, she must have some skills right?
OP has stated that the arrangement is "best for us".

Try to be a... Good Listener.

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

drk
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by drk » Sun Sep 16, 2018 4:10 pm

golfCaddy wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:25 pm
You are crazy to take a 38% pay cut, more so with kids on the way. You might think you'll get sent to Paris or some cushy assignment. It's more likely you get sent to some [...] country with bad air quality, poor sanitation, unsafe water, and kidnapping and terrorism risks.
It sounds like your personality and tastes may not align with the OP's. It's also worth noting one doesn't make it through the two-year Foreign Service process assuming that they'll be posted to Paris. They put that information front and center.
About Foreign Service Appointments wrote: All officers are considered worldwide available and must be prepared to go where needed; you must be ready, at any time, to meet the needs of the Service. You should be aware that an increasing number of posts are considered “hardship,” that is, in isolated, unhealthful and/or perhaps dangerous environments. Some posts will not allow accompanying family members.
Again, it's a lengthy process designed to ensure that people accepting an invitation are prepared for the sacrifices they will have to make.

TigerNest
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by TigerNest » Sun Sep 16, 2018 4:28 pm

Take the job and enjoy!

Be conservative with money after it's earned. Careers are better with a little calculated risk taking.

Good Listener
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by Good Listener » Sun Sep 16, 2018 5:16 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 3:00 pm
Good Listener wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 2:39 pm
Is there a reason your wife doesn't work and is she unable to ever contribute financially? If she can home school future planned children, she must have some skills right?
OP has stated that the arrangement is "best for us".

Try to be a... Good Listener.

RM
I try to be. The post was quite long and I wasn't a Good reader...

wxz76
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by wxz76 » Sun Sep 16, 2018 5:52 pm

Do it. You get to see the world and pay for it by Uncle Sam.

Bfwolf
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by Bfwolf » Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:04 am

Minet, I am curious what you decided (if you've decided).

The job sounds like a great fit for you and your wife. But I guess I am surprised it wouldn't screw up the adoption process, and/or make it very difficult to raise young kids given the potential posts for a junior FSO. I don't think the pay cut (per your thread title) is the issue here.

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djpeteski
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by djpeteski » Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:16 am

Bfwolf wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:04 am
Minet, I am curious what you decided (if you've decided).

The job sounds like a great fit for you and your wife. But I guess I am surprised it wouldn't screw up the adoption process, and/or make it very difficult to raise young kids given the potential posts for a junior FSO. I don't think the pay cut (per your thread title) is the issue here.
He took the job and now cannot afford an internet connection, so no updates. Just kidding. :mrgreen:

minet
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by minet » Mon Sep 17, 2018 8:06 pm

Thanks to everyone for the replies. I was away on a camping trip and have not been able to reply until now. I appreciate very much all the opinions and perspectives and read through the replies at least three times.

To address a few of the common themes:
  • I have a good understanding of what a career in the Foreign Service entails. I have several close family friends who range from junior FSO through retired senior FSO.
  • My wife is in education (former principle) and highly employable if the need arises. Due to a number of personal reasons we decided it was best for her to take a career break and be a stay at home wife. We also are committed to her being a stay at home mom when we have children, which leads to my next point.
  • We have definitely considered the affect living around the world would have on our children. We both believe, due to personal experience, it would be a great experience for our children. We are in the process of adopting and anticipate being matched within the next few months. We're still working through the details and would obviously have to coordinate with the adoption agency. They are, however, experienced with working with military and other government workers who deploy and frequently move (I talked about this with them in the very beginning).
  • Regarding children, my wife and I will home school. She is trained and educated in that field and it's just something we are both committed to. We would prefer she not work, but in an absolutely desperate situation she would of course work and we would arrange child care. While posted overseas she may teach English part-time or work in a U.S. school. That said, some people mentioned the affect on the kids of living in less than desirable locations. By the time my kids are in any position to know the difference, I should already be approaching mid-career with the Foreign Service and hopefully having better postings. But we believe our home environment will be the most important part of raising our children.
  • All that to say, we have thought through the likelihood of living in poor countries and are both ok with it. It will be hard and test us beyond anything we've experienced, but at the end of the day we are representing the U.S. and would have the support of our government to assist with housing issues, safety, etc. We have both lived in poor conditions overseas so we have a basic idea of what to expect should we get a less than desirable posting. She has lived in the middle east alone for work.
  • If we decide to move forward (we are still discussing) and it doesn't work well, I can always resign and transition to a new career field.
My biggest fear is that I'm on this train towards FI and when my version of this opportunity comes for me, I won't have the guts to take the pay cut.
Thanks for your comment. I want to encourage you to make sure you plan now and when the opportunity comes, if it makes sense for you and your family then you just need to make the change and never, ever look back. I take a long time to make a decision, but once I am committed to a course I "burn the ships" and never look back (other than to learn from the past).

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leeks
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by leeks » Mon Sep 17, 2018 8:33 pm

Yes, try out the dream job!

drawpoker
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by drawpoker » Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:14 pm

minet wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 8:06 pm

.... have a good understanding of what a career in the Foreign Service entails. I have several close family friends who range from junior FSO through retired senior FSO. .....
... wife is in education (former principle) .....considered the affect living around the world would have.......some people mentioned the affect on the kids..........thought through the likelihood of living in poor countries and are both ok with it. It will be hard and test us beyond anything we've experienced.......it doesn't work well, I can always resign and transition to a new career field.
Watch commander for the spelling/grammar police here. :shock: Have your wife tutor you in the differences among words that sound alike, but aren't. Principal, Principle. Affect, Effect. Not trying to be snarky, just pointing out you don't want to make these kind of glaring mistakes on a resume' and attachments you send in the course of applying for jobs. These are the kind of goofs that spellcheck will not pick up!

What do these close family friends say about the Foreign Service? Not the ones from a different era, but the younger ones? Are they painting a rosy picture of things for this as mid-life career change?

You and your wife may be "ok" as you say with the prospect of living in some ****hole country but is it really fair to the kids you plan to add? Don't see how educational or culturally enriching experience it would be to be upclose and personal with wretched poverty, disease, danger and unsafe conditions.

Please consider removing the rose-colored glasses here and take a second look at this before you leap. Your assumption that if it doesn't work out, you can just "transition to a new career" is a bit unrealistic.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who are 50 & older to find a new and well-paying job?

rkd
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by rkd » Mon Sep 17, 2018 10:42 pm

I would say take the job.

First your current role and salary may not continue since you are at max. In next 20 (?) years who knows what changes can happen in your industry. The government job is something you have wanted to do, it does not sound like a decision made on a whim or just based on emotions. Also if you do get posted to faraway (third world or like) countries you are also likely to spend less money, so the pay cut might be less than 38%.

There is lot of good advice on the thread. Best of luck to you!!

Bfwolf
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by Bfwolf » Mon Sep 17, 2018 11:09 pm

drawpoker wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:14 pm
minet wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 8:06 pm

.... have a good understanding of what a career in the Foreign Service entails. I have several close family friends who range from junior FSO through retired senior FSO. .....
... wife is in education (former principle) .....considered the affect living around the world would have.......some people mentioned the affect on the kids..........thought through the likelihood of living in poor countries and are both ok with it. It will be hard and test us beyond anything we've experienced.......it doesn't work well, I can always resign and transition to a new career field.
Watch commander for the spelling/grammar police here. :shock: Have your wife tutor you in the differences among words that sound alike, but aren't. Principal, Principle. Affect, Effect. Not trying to be snarky, just pointing out you don't want to make these kind of glaring mistakes on a resume' and attachments you send in the course of applying for jobs. These are the kind of goofs that spellcheck will not pick up!

What do these close family friends say about the Foreign Service? Not the ones from a different era, but the younger ones? Are they painting a rosy picture of things for this as mid-life career change?

You and your wife may be "ok" as you say with the prospect of living in some ****hole country but is it really fair to the kids you plan to add? Don't see how educational or culturally enriching experience it would be to be upclose and personal with wretched poverty, disease, danger and unsafe conditions.

Please consider removing the rose-colored glasses here and take a second look at this before you leap. Your assumption that if it doesn't work out, you can just "transition to a new career" is a bit unrealistic.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who are 50 & older to find a new and well-paying job?
I don't think the world is as bad as you think it is. Your earlier post about the world not being as safe as it was 20 or 30 years ago really rang false to me....it seems to me the world is probably safer than it was then. Undoubtedly junior FSOs end up in poor countries and some are undoubtedly less safe than the US. But I imagine truly unsafe moments for the family of a FSO are rare.

In terms of educationally and culturally enriching, the (very young) childrens' experience will be moderated by a former US principal. They will be fine.

bluebirdy
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by bluebirdy » Mon Sep 17, 2018 11:49 pm

The choice is clear to me - take the dream job. You can always go back and find some other kind of work if it's not so enjoyable after a few years.

golfCaddy
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by golfCaddy » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:04 am

It sounds like you have your mind made up, but think hard about what you're choosing for your kids. Air pollution is a terrible problem in China and India. Do you want your kids to develop asthma? Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a global problem, but it's far worse in India.

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/14/worl ... google.com
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/worl ... D6&gwt=pay
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/heal ... rbugs.html
https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/04/worl ... hreat.html

India and China are some of the better places you could get sent. In other places, you have to deal with the risk of kidnapping: https://www.agcs.allianz.com/assets/PDF ... _Red24.pdf

drawpoker
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Re: 38% pay cut for dream job?

Post by drawpoker » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:33 am

Bfwolf wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 11:09 pm
.....don't think the world is as bad as you think it is. Your earlier post about the world not being as safe as it was 20 or 30 years ago really rang false to me....it seems to me the world is probably safer than it was then......
Huh? What wazthat? You can un-ring that bell that really rang for you. Because I am not only the English and spelling police here, but accuracy bureau shift sergeant too. :P

For the record, please re-read my post. I did not say the world was not as safe as it was 20 or 30 years ago.

I said the world is not the same as it was 20 or 30 years ago. Big difference. The nuances being - on many levels of shading, not just from a single barometer of safe or unsafe measurement.
The world today requires a whole different set of wits one must keep sharp in order to succeed in life. Whether living stateside. Or overseas.

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