A glimpse into the future

In my line of work, it’s necessary to plan ahead.  Career planning is essential so you can land a follow-on assignment that you enjoy and enhances your career.  If you fly blind, you never know what you’re going to get.  For example, right now I am busy learning German in order to qualify for German-speaking assignments.  After German I will polish my French, and after that I will focus again on Korean when I once again return to interviewing Koreans. 

A couple of intriguing career possibilities landed on my desk this week.  First, I found out that because I already qualify for Mandarin Chinese-required assignments, I can bid six months early for my follow-on assignment.  I had expected to bid next February, but it is great news to be able to look ahead and know where you will be headed in the future.  I can bid on any assignments I qualify for which begin after my time here in Seoul ends (I depart February 2007).  I also qualify for a short course in Spanish (8 weeks), so I can also bid on Spanish-speaking posts that begin in April 2007 or later.  I won’t know until bidding starts in August as to whether I will be able to find assignments that begin after I leave Seoul.  It’s good to have options, though.  A friend of mine working in India and fluent in Japanese recently did exactly what I will do, and his follow-on assignment will be in Tokyo.  There are more assignments available to bid on during the summer.  Most assignment bidders prefer bidding during the summer cycle because more assignments are available.  I will bid Chinese-required posts very high, and I’m optimistic my follow-on assignment will be somewhere in China.  I’ll let you know.

Second, I’ve heard that there may be a three-month short assignment to Papua New Guinea available later this year.  Yes, that’s right—Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea—not exactly a hot tourist destination.  It’s intriguing to me as a great career possibility, but that’s about all.  Most people in my line of work try to avoid the country because it is an extremely difficult and potentially dangerous place to be.  Violence is much too common there.  However, the job prospect sounds fabulous.  I broached the subject of doing this three-month assignment in Port Moresby with my family, and they reacted very coolly to the idea.  I don’t know if the opportunity will even become available.  I’m sure that several other people are interested in doing it, and it would put a hardship on my family if I went unaccompanied to Port Moresby for three months.  We would probably meet up a couple times in nearby Australia, Thailand, or Bali.  My in-laws would likely stay with my family in Korea while I’m away.  I’m only considering it because it’s a short assignment and a great opportunity.  I don’t know what I’ll do, but if you have any thoughts about this, let me know.  The prospect of working there reminds me an episode of “Survivor”—living for a short while in extreme hardship with the prospect of great reward.  Or I could just get booted off the island.

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