To gallivant, or not to gallivant.
June 4, 2013 4:02 PM Subscribe
Am I crazy to be considering abandoning a successful career to enter the Foreign Service?
posted by eugenen to Work & Money (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'm just shy of 30 and a successful lawyer -- or as successful as someone five years out of law school can plausibly be these days. I work a well-paying job at a fairly prestigious firm where it is quite difficult to get hired, and have reasonable partnership prospects. My co-workers and bosses are awesome. I'm generally pretty content (if not genuinely fulfilled or totally in love with the work), which puts me in the very fortunate minority of law school grads. I am acutely aware of how lucky I am.
The Foreign Service is something I've thought about off and on since college and finally decided to apply for last year. Improbably, I've made it far enough where I'm now on the verge of getting an offer. I think I really want to do it. The job sounds exciting and fun, like exactly the sort of non-financially-suicidal adventure I've been looking for; there's nothing tying me down; I think putting myself in some different cultural settings and outside my comfort zone would be good for me at this point in my life. I think the work is important and have high hopes that it would be fulfilling.
But of course there are risks. I haven't lived abroad since I was a small child; I certainly have never lived in the third world. I can't be 100% sure how I'll react to being semi-permanently away from my current group family and friends. I don't think it will happen, but it certainly isn't outside the realm of possibility that eight months from now I find myself in Kazakhstan bitterly regretting my decision to leave my comfortable job that I liked well enough.
As those familiar with the legal field know, it's hard to diverge from the prescribed career path and then swerve right back onto it. I could probably find another legal job a few years down the line if it didn't work out, but one this "good"? I doubt it.
Of course at the end of the day, only I can do the cost-benefit analysis for myself. But I am unbelievably torn, and I wanted a quick sanity check from the hive mind. Is it nuts to abandon a safe, intellectually demanding job where my work is valued and I'm generally respected for an exciting adventure that also happens to be an entry-level position in a massive bureaucracy with a ton of uncertainty? If I were your friend who came to you with this, would you tell him he was out of his mind?