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xanthig
Apr 23, 2005



What the DoS is talking about when they talk about telegraphs? It gets mentioned in the example scenario test for the OA on the DoS website, and there are reference docs on the DoS website that explain proper formatting. I would have thought that computers would have completely obviated the use of telegraph.

What is the QEP looking for? The "resume" section was limited to a 150 character job description per job, and the personal narrative section was so limited, given the vague questions, that it was painful. Everything I can find describes this part of the process as "mysterious," but the rest of the process is respectably transparent.

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AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

It's all been computerized but the State Department still uses telegrams (we call them cables) for official communication. It's a way of retaining everything an allowing posts to distribute things how they'd like, something you really can't do in the same way with email.

It's due to be replaced pretty soon though.

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xanthig
Apr 23, 2005



AKA Pseudonym posted:

It's all been computerized but the State Department still uses telegrams (we call them cables) for official communication. It's a way of retaining everything an allowing posts to distribute things how they'd like, something you really can't do in the same way with email.

It's due to be replaced pretty soon though.


What's the phase out time frame?

Also, do people working for DoS typically maintain houses in the US, just in case?

Vile Rat, why management track?

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TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


xanthig posted:

What's the phase out time frame?

Also, do people working for DoS typically maintain houses in the US, just in case?

Vile Rat, why management track?

I'm not maintaining a house in the US.

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AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

xanthig posted:

What's the phase out time frame?

Also, do people working for DoS typically maintain houses in the US, just in case?

Vile Rat, why management track?

Soonish maybe? It's still being tested.

Some people keep houses in DC and rent them out. It's not the norm though. You really aren't going to find yourself in a situation where you suddenly need a home back in the states right away.

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Vilerat
May 11, 2002


xanthig posted:

What's the phase out time frame?

Also, do people working for DoS typically maintain houses in the US, just in case?

Vile Rat, why management track?

Because I took an IPO position at a consulate where the IMO is off in the main embassy far away and my management officer loves taking leave during major events.

Funny thing is even though you come in as a whatever, you CAN bid and potentially get anything. You can come in to fix computers and get an assignment writing political cables in Bujumbura, it's just a little more difficult. If you spent 3 years doing something you don't normally do you can add that skill code onto your profile and bid on those things normally. I can once my current assignment is up have a reasonable chance of getting a MGMT position somewhere without ever taking the exam.

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xanthig
Apr 23, 2005



AKA Pseudonym posted:

Soonish maybe? It's still being tested.

Some people keep houses in DC and rent them out. It's not the norm though. You really aren't going to find yourself in a situation where you suddenly need a home back in the states right away.


During a full career in DoS, how much time can one expect to be posted in DC?

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TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


xanthig posted:

During a full career in DoS, how much time can one expect to be posted in DC?

Depends on the career and person.

Also, get used to "depends" in State.

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Vilerat
May 11, 2002


xanthig posted:

During a full career in DoS, how much time can one expect to be posted in DC?

As little as you want if that's your aim. They try to get people out into the field and have actual rules restricting how long you can stay in the states before they force you to take an overseas assignment. If you want to camp out in DC forever I'd recommend a civil service job instead.

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AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

xanthig posted:

During a full career in DoS, how much time can one expect to be posted in DC?

Most Officers, in my experience, do it once or twice. It's good for networking and getting your name recognized. It's not quite as useful for Specialists and most might only get posted to DC at the end of their careers if at all.

Right now we're beginning to transition to everybody's base pay being based on DC locality pay. It used to be that people liked to go to DC for the last three years so they'd get a better retirement. This new system takes away an incentive to do that, so there will probably be more people who go their entire careers without serving in DC.

The upshot is it pretty much depends on how you want to handle your career.

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xanthig
Apr 23, 2005



Vilerat posted:

As little as you want if that's your aim. They try to get people out into the field and have actual rules restricting how long you can stay in the states before they force you to take an overseas assignment. If you want to camp out in DC forever I'd recommend a civil service job instead.

I asked because other agencies with a strong overseas presence virtually require that you work in DC at least a few times during your career.

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Omits-Bagels
Feb 12, 2001


Is there a fight to get the "good" locations (London, Paris, etc...)?

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TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Omits-Bagels posted:

Is there a fight to get the "good" locations (London, Paris, etc...)?

After your first two directed tours, you enter a competitive bidding process for your postings. So if the country or position is appealing, you probably won't be the only person trying to land that position.

edit:

xanthig posted:

I asked because other agencies with a strong overseas presence virtually require that you work in DC at least a few times during your career.

My understanding is that it depends on your position and the career track you're trying to aim for. I've heard of people that do most of their tours in DC and others that spend nearly all of it overseas.

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Vilerat
May 11, 2002


Omits-Bagels posted:

Is there a fight to get the "good" locations (London, Paris, etc...)?

Honestly not as much as you might think. "Good" locations are typically expensive to live at and they are mostly large embassies which aren't fantastic work environments. I love smaller posts that have more character so I won't be bidding on Paris/London any time soon but that's just me.

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Omits-Bagels
Feb 12, 2001


Vilerat posted:

Honestly not as much as you might think. "Good" locations are typically expensive to live at and they are mostly large embassies which aren't fantastic work environments. I love smaller posts that have more character so I won't be bidding on Paris/London any time soon but that's just me.

Interesting, I never thought of that aspect. Do they pas differently based on location?
What kind of places/locations would you like to be posted?

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patricius
Apr 17, 2006

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What's a good resource (book, website, whatever) to get a really thorough breakdown of what each career cone is like? For the FSOs in this thread, how did you choose your cone? State has some rough information about each, some testimonials from people in each role, and a quiz that's supposed to help you determine what path is right for you, but I find that there's just not enough detail there to satisfy me. Given that State's website is very emphatic about "once you choose a track, it's extremely hard to change," I'd be interested in seeing some more detailed accounts (in contexts other than an official mouthpiece website) of what each role is like.

Also, for those of you for whom regular diplomatic contact with your host community is part of your job: what is it like having to defend US policies that you don't agree with? is it a position you find yourself in a lot? How open are you with the people around you, both people on post and locals, about political views that you have that may conflict with the line that State wants you to carry as a US government representative?

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Vilerat
May 11, 2002


Omits-Bagels posted:

Interesting, I never thought of that aspect. Do they pas differently based on location?
What kind of places/locations would you like to be posted?

I liked some of the strangest places. I thought Khartoum was awesome when I was there, but Mauritius was great too. I'd like to go to eastern europe personally, maybe Croatia?

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xanthig
Apr 23, 2005



patricius posted:

What's a good resource (book, website, whatever) to get a really thorough breakdown of what each career cone is like?

There's a book called 'Inside the US Embassy: How the foreign service works for America' that the DoS recommends. I found it to be pretty helpful. It's basically short essays by people in different career tracks talking about their job.

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xanthig
Apr 23, 2005



Vilerat posted:

I liked some of the strangest places. I thought Khartoum was awesome when I was there, but Mauritius was great too. I'd like to go to eastern europe personally, maybe Croatia?

How much Eve playing did you get done in these locations? More to the point, these are some fairly off the grid places, what kind of internet connection did you have at your disposal.


Also, what is DoS language training like, do you get a lot of opportunity to learn languages or is it more focused at getting good at one or two during your career?

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Business of Ferrets
Mar 2, 2008

Good to see that everything is back to normal.

If State has one real strength from a training perspective, language instruction is it. My comments pertain to generalists, since I am not up-to-speed on opportunities for specialists.

All training, language or otherwise, is tied to one's current or onward assignment. So, if you want to learn, say, Arabic, the key is to find a job that requires Arabic proficiency with enough time to complete language training before the job begins (this timing is usually worked into the position start date, so it is normally pretty straightforward).

State has three broad categories of languages:

  • free stream porn movie "World" languages generally take six to nine months of full-time instruction to go from no knowledge to a "3" level on the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale (nude model video free). World languages basically include the Romance and Germanic language families.

  • screw my husband porn "Hard" languages are allotted 44 weeks (one academic year) of instruction to reach the 3 level. With a few exceptions (see below), any language not a World language falls in this category.

  • The bragdon ball z porn "Super-Hard" languages, which are Arabic (including several dialects), Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Japanese and Korean, have courses up to 88 weeks (two academic years) to get students to the 3 level. The second year is usually done overseas at a field school or contract program. There are U.S. Government field schools in Tunis, Taipei, Yokohama and Seoul, and I know of contract programs in Cairo and Beijing, at least.
While in language training you have no other work responsibilities. Most of the training for programs up to one year occur at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center/Foreign Service Institute (FSI) located in Arlington, Virginia. Classes tend to be small (usually one to four students) all all teachers are native speakers of their language. The FSI website says that more than 70 languages are taught there. Naturally, some programs are big, while others accomodate only a few students. If you are in between overseas assignments while in language training, you will receive per diem (with some exceptions that aren't worth going into here).

There are regulations limiting the number of times an FSO can receive a full course of Hard or Super-Hard languages (twice, with the possibility of a third), and entry-level officers (ELOs; these are officers on their first or second tour) often don't receive full courses longer than six months because training eats into the clock for achieving tenure (a career requirement). Overall, though, most officers do two or three foreign languages, with many focusing on one or two during their career. Time spent in language training is not considered career enhancing, so most people never bump up against the regulations once they leave the entry level. There are also pay incentives to serve repeat tours using certain languages which encourage officers to to focus on one or two languages.

There are also opportunities for self-study and language maintenance and improvement. These are handled on a case-by-case basis, but are usually pretty easy to get if needed or wanted.

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Business of Ferrets
Mar 2, 2008

Good to see that everything is back to normal.

Omits-Bagels posted:

Is there a fight to get the "good" locations (London, Paris, etc...)?

For generalists, this is very much the case, particularly after leaving the entry level. Nice places with few constraints for language proficiency or medical issues tend to be very heavily bid. From recent lists, I recall a single position in Sydney with 48 bidders and one in London with 29 bidders. These days, just about the only way to get to Paris, London, Brussels, Rome, (insert desireable European capital here) is to first go to Afghanistan or Iraq.

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OOPRCT
Jun 19, 2004


What would be the best way to practice the skills needed to be successful in the Oral Assessment?

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Vilerat
May 11, 2002


xanthig posted:

How much Eve playing did you get done in these locations? More to the point, these are some fairly off the grid places, what kind of internet connection did you have at your disposal.


Also, what is DoS language training like, do you get a lot of opportunity to learn languages or is it more focused at getting good at one or two during your career?

Worst internet service in Africa? Pretoria.

Best? Rwanda and Senegal both were great. It really depends...

I don't know about language training unfortunately.

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xanthig
Apr 23, 2005



What if you already have a background in a superhard language, does that reduce the training time? For instance, I'm between a 2 and a 3 in both Chinese and Japanese. Would I be starting at my current level in these languages and then advancing from there, or would I be starting at day one as if I never had any exposure and progressing through with a whole class of people.

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xanthig
Apr 23, 2005



How much do Washington polotics affect day to day life working an overseas post? Have the different Secrataries of State have much of an effect on post morale when working in places like Mauritius?

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Vilerat
May 11, 2002


xanthig posted:

What if you already have a background in a superhard language, does that reduce the training time? For instance, I'm between a 2 and a 3 in both Chinese and Japanese. Would I be starting at my current level in these languages and then advancing from there, or would I be starting at day one as if I never had any exposure and progressing through with a whole class of people.

If you can test to a certain level in the language then you don't have to take the language if you don't want to I believe. The problem is if you don't get assigned to China or Japan then those languages won't do you a whole lot of good if they assign you to Luanda.

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xanthig
Apr 23, 2005



Vilerat posted:

If you can test to a certain level in the language then you don't have to take the language if you don't want to I believe. The problem is if you don't get assigned to China or Japan then those languages won't do you a whole lot of good if they assign you to Luanda.

I'm indifferent about serving in either China or Japan, I've already spent enough time in both that there's really no glamor in going to either of those countries. On the other hand, I get a big boost to my placement on the register if I pass the Chinese language spoken test, but I'll also be required to do two tours there. I would rather serve in Luanda, but if speaking Chinese gets me into the system, I'll run with it. I'm wondering how that would count against language training time.

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Business of Ferrets
Mar 2, 2008

Good to see that everything is back to normal.

xanthig posted:

What if you already have a background in a superhard language, does that reduce the training time? For instance, I'm between a 2 and a 3 in both Chinese and Japanese. Would I be starting at my current level in these languages and then advancing from there, or would I be starting at day one as if I never had any exposure and progressing through with a whole class of people.

A number of factors could come into play in this case. For entry-level officers (ELOs), training for Hard and Super-Hard languages is usually abbreviated to about six to nine months. To reflect this, the required level of proficiency for many ELO positions is only 2 (instead of the normal requirement of 3). So if you joined and had between a 2 and 3 in the language of your assigned post, you might not receive any training for that tour because you already meet the 2 prerequisite. Sometimes, if timing works, ELOs will get enough language training to bring them up to the next level (such as if you were close to 3 but just not quite there). In any case, you would always start from where you were. FSI is quite responsive to students with uneven language levels.

For mid-level jobs an above, you would get whatever instruction needed to get to the 3 level. Timing remains tricky, though; if you have 3 level Spanish, you will probably not be able to bid jobs that would leave you with a six-month gap where language training would otherwise be. So, depending on the case, timing can hurt you or help you.

As Vilerat points out, you may or may not get an initial posting somewhere you already speak the language. In that case State would give you the instruction necessary to reach the language requirement for your job, if any.

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Vilerat
May 11, 2002


xanthig posted:

I would rather serve in Luanda

I can comfortably say no, you really wouldn't

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Defleshed
Nov 18, 2004

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How is the State Dept. with families? Would I be able to go from post to post with my wife & kids?

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Vilerat
May 11, 2002


Defleshed posted:

How is the State Dept. with families? Would I be able to go from post to post with my wife & kids?

Yes of course. They also offer spouse employment opportunities and they run some of the best private schools available.

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Defleshed
Nov 18, 2004

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Vilerat posted:

Yes of course. They also offer spouse employment opportunities and they run some of the best private schools available.

I feel retarded for asking that since it is in the FAQ on the site that I neglected to read until after I posted.

Hmmm. I am also a vet and finishing up my last year of law school. I have always been pretty dead-set on JAG, but this also sounds like a very intriguing opportunity that I actually knew almost nothing about, despite having an acquaintance who does exactly this. I'll have to look further into this.

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AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Sometimes you can get language training at post. I had a Russian tutor for a while but it got to be too hard to make time for it. I honestly have no idea how common that is though.

And there are a few posts where you can't bring family. But I think that's only Baghdad and Kabul right now.

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Haji
Nov 15, 2005

Haj Paj

Are FSO still given pay bonuses for working in countries that no one wants to work in? I'm thinking specifically Eastern Bloc countries. If so, how much of a bonus?

For the FSOT, should I bother getting dressed up? Does anyone even care at that point? And if so, just how dressy do I have to be?

I'm also interested in employment opportunities for spouses. What is the hiring process like for spouses? I'm currently negotiating with my boyfriend about my applying for work as a FSO. The boyfriend works in IT as a Sys Admin. Would he be able to just walk into a job he's qualified for, or will he have as long of an application process as me? What benefits do spouses get? Can he get the same benefits as a Domestic Partner, or do we have to get married for him to get spouse benefits?

Sheesh. That's a lot of questions. Sorry about that.

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TCD
Nov 13, 2002

Every step, a fucking adventure.


Vilerat posted:

I can comfortably say no, you really wouldn't
I'm pretty sure Vile's right on this one

DoS is interesting. I think this applies to Generalists and Specialists, but typically, you come into the class, you know nobody. For Specialists you go through a crazy orientation where you're pretty overwhelmed. You make some really good friends, and then in a few weeks, the specialists go their separate ways by specialty, and then weeks to months later depending on specialty, you go on your way to different countries.

I can honestly say I've made some really good friends in relatively short amount of time, that I hope to keep in contact with for the rest of my life.

For new specialists, you typically do not receive language training in the US. Some do, but it's not the norm right now. If you happen to get language training, it's normally the FAST courses which are like 7 weeks or so? You do receive other training, and there's DoS provided self study materials if you want to go that route as well.

Some this depends of course. Specialists who have 3 months before they replace the person at their post are more likely to get language training or if they happen to get a slot that's language designated. Much like other things in the dept, it depends.

Pay bonuses go off hardship differential and danger which apply to anybody at the post(and hard to fill but that's job and slot dependent on that country, and I don't think people on directed tours qualify for it either) it varies all over the world and it can change at any time. Some African countries are 0% pay bonus, others can be 30% hardship and 20% danger so take your base salary and times it by 1.50. In one year later at post, your danger could go away and it be 20% differential. So to answer that question about pay bonuses, yes there are some, and it depends on the country and the time. What it is right now, maybe vastly different in 6 months. Or it could stay the same. It just depends. Also, I'm sure there are plenty of people who want to work in Eastern block countries


Edit:

Haji posted:

I'm also interested in employment opportunities for spouses. What is the hiring process like for spouses? I'm currently negotiating with my boyfriend about my applying for work as a FSO. The boyfriend works in IT as a Sys Admin. Would he be able to just walk into a job he's qualified for, or will he have as long of an application process as me? What benefits do spouses get? Can he get the same benefits as a Domestic Partner, or do we have to get married for him to get spouse benefits?



Vile can probably answer this, but, it depends on the post. Posts have the ability to hire EFMs to certain positions around the embassy, however if IT is full, I doubt he's going to get hired. This again, is entirely post dependent. If he wants to do full time IT and you two become a tandem couple, he has to go through the IMS hire process which isn't as involved as FSOs, but, you still have an application packet QEP, an Oral exam from a generalist and IT specialist, and pass med and security clearances.

edit: Also, if you think you want to apply for whatever position. Do it. You might get it, you might not.

Vile and AKA did something similar a year or so back here on SA, and well. Thanks guys.

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Kase Im Licht
Jan 26, 2001


Haji posted:

For the FSOT, should I bother getting dressed up? Does anyone even care at that point? And if so, just how dressy do I have to be?
For the oral? Yes, its an interview, wear a suit.

For the written? No, I wore shorts and a t-shirt.

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Vilerat
May 11, 2002


Haji posted:


I'm also interested in employment opportunities for spouses. What is the hiring process like for spouses? I'm currently negotiating with my boyfriend about my applying for work as a FSO. The boyfriend works in IT as a Sys Admin. Would he be able to just walk into a job he's qualified for, or will he have as long of an application process as me? What benefits do spouses get? Can he get the same benefits as a Domestic Partner, or do we have to get married for him to get spouse benefits?


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As far as doing IT work it depends on the post as said. If you go to a larger post there might be a better chance of a position in the Unclassified computer office but it just really depends. I'd caution them to be ready to do whatever job is available at post or possibly work on the local economy (with the embassies help, they have programs to assist in this kind of thing).

I'd have them join up as an IMS and do tandem assignments as TCD said but they will be taken care of regardless.

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Haji
Nov 15, 2005

Haj Paj

Not gay. M/F couple. We're just taking our time. Although, that article is just pure awesome! Thanks for sharing!

Good info. Thanks. Gives me more specific points to talk to the boyfriend about.

Do any Eastern Bloc countries have large posts? I'm torn between Management and Consular. And I am pretty fixated on Former Soviet states. I spent a large portion of my degree with Slavic studies and would like to spend some time enjoying some of the cultures.

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Vilerat
May 11, 2002


Haji posted:

Not gay. M/F couple. We're just taking our time. Although, that article is just pure awesome! Thanks for sharing!

Good info. Thanks. Gives me more specific points to talk to the boyfriend about.

Do any Eastern Bloc countries have large posts? I'm torn between Management and Consular. And I am pretty fixated on Former Soviet states. I spent a large portion of my degree with Slavic studies and would like to spend some time enjoying some of the cultures.

Well given my recent experiences I can answer all your questions about Management! I can sign paperwork like a god drat champ now.


As far as large posts it really depends on the relationship we have with the country and the size of the country. If they are neutral or hostile to us, smaller post.

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AKA Pseudonym
May 16, 2004

A dashing and sophisticated young man

Doctor Rope

Some places have Information Management Assistants (IMA) who are EFMs with the proper clearance who help out with IT stuff. Thats not too common though.

The only truly large post in Eastern Europe is Moscow. We're a little on the big side here in Kiev, but there's plenty bigger. You may not want a big post anyway.

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