Back on the Job

After nearly two full years without a job (or at least one I get paid for), I'm officially back to work.

It's kind of weird to get dressed in "real" clothes in the morning and head out with John to the office. It's also incredibly difficult to say goodbye to Jack, who has been particularly clingy since the nanny started working for us. I understand it's been a very tough transition for him, and it's not easy for me either. But I've gotta say, it's kind of nice to spend at least part of my day around adults.

In the Foreign Service, there are generally a handful of positions available to EFMs (Eligible Family Members - hence the title of this blog). In Yekaterinburg, there were two: CLO coordinator (Community Liaison Office) and a biometrics clerk position (fingerprinting and data entry for visas). I chose the CLO position not so much because of what it offers in this post - since there are only eight Americans here, soon to be nine including me, there's not a ton to do - but for what it means for me in the future. Getting a CLO job at a large post is competitive, and this will give me an advantage if I want to do this further down the road. (In my dream scenario, I'd be working as an author, of course.) I also like the idea of bringing the community together, even if it is a tiny one, and finding out as much as I can about the current Yekaterinburg, since most of the information hasn't been updated in years. That's part of the reason I was so pleasantly surprised when I got here - Yekat has changed a lot recently, mostly for the better.

Since we've been without a CLO for at least six years here, I have a bit of a challenge facing me. I'm starting from scratch with a newsletter, updating post reports with the most up-to-date info I can provide, and doing my own research into schools and childcare options, since there wasn't any information available to me when I found out we were coming here, and it's very important to me as a parent. I'm also going to try to get some activities started, but there's a fine line between providing people with options, and making people feel pressured to hang out together, even if they don't want to. I'm curious what other CLOs at small posts have to say on the matter. If you're out there, let me know!

Mostly, though, I'm excited to be doing something productive with my time. And the good news is it's only 20 hours a week, so I still have plenty of time to write. Sure, my office is in the emergency exit hallway, but as I told Sarah, I literally had a broom closet for an office once, so things could be worse. I also get to go to Moscow next week with John for training, which means two flights without Jack. I picture myself reading a magazine for two blissful uninterrupted hours. (What can I say, I like to dream big, people. I wouldn't be surprised if I take a nap in there somewhere, too.) And the fact that I get to spend more time with John every day, walking to work and getting lunch in the cafeteria together? Well, that's just the icing on the cake.


  1. Sheila...fantastic...this sounds ideal and how perfect an area for you. They are SO lucky to have you take this on with all your creativity etc. Lovely compromise too with the hours- best of both worlds....well done and have fun with this....

  2. Glad you're settling in well! I'm sure our CLO here in Cotonou would be happy to chat with you -- let me know if you'd like me to put you in touch. We have a slightly bigger community (15 or so direct hires with the embassy) but I'm sure some of the challenges are the same.

    And kudos for finding a PART-TIME job. I really think part-time work is the perfect scenario for moms with young ones. I wish I could have that arrangement!

  3. AWW thats awesome Mara! I'm so happy for you! That is the one thing why I'm scared to start a family; I don't want to stop working, I just found my path! We will figure it out when that time comes.:) That is so nice you get more time with your hubs. Jack will adjust and it's only 20 hours/week, that's perfect! love you. xo

  4. Congrats on the job! Glad to hear Jack is doing so well - such an independent lil' man. I'd be interested to hear what Russian preschool is like. Does the nanny speak to him in Russian or English?

    Wow, 9 Americans! And I thought our next post was going to be tiny at 35 or so. I suppose sharing your first Post with 10 times that figure (just counting direct-hires) skews your perspective. I am very curious, however, to see what being in a small Embassy community is like. Our CLO in Nairobi (well really CLOs since there are 3) will occasionally send a survey monkey to ask about people's interests for information/activities, etc. I know you could probably just ask people in the hallway but it might be a way for you to suggest a laundry list of ideas and see what people are most interested in. Just a thought.

  5. If you want to ease into the "forced fun" I'd say start with either Halloween or Thanksgiving. For most Americans I've met, spending Thanksgiving with other Americans eating as many of the traditional foods as you can get at your location is a big deal. At my first post I also managed a Thanksgiving lunch for the entire embassy so the locals got a taste of what it's all about (everyone either brought stuff potluck or paid a bit, which went to buying the turkeys and other necessities we couldn't cook on-site).

    btw - what do you mean "cafeteria"???? You get a caf in Yekat and we have nothing in Piter?


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