US Department of State

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US Department of State Reviews

Updated 19 October 2014
Updated 19 October 2014
350 Reviews
3.9
350 Reviews
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US Department of State Secretary of State John Kerry
John Kerry
94 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • See the world while serving your country (in 14 reviews)

  • If you work for the Foreign Service, you get to see the world in so many meaningful ways (in 28 reviews)


Cons
  • The biggest turn off for me were actually the foreign service officers (in 31 reviews)

  • This can dramatically impact work-life balance for years at a time (in 10 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1.  

    Good place to start career

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time

    Pros

    Supportive people and great networking

    Cons

    Inefficient and prone to politics

    Recommends
  2. 2 people found this helpful  

    Foreign service can be very difficult, surprising lack of professionalism among some

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Traveling the world, although you often do not have much say over where you go, sometimes exposed to very interesting issues, but a lot of it is boring paper pushing, varies hugely from Embassy to Embassy

    Cons

    Quality of coworkers is not as high as expected, very difficult to get anything done in such a huge bureaucracy, you can be sent anywhere in the world and told to do any job regardless of your interests or background, it can be incredibly difficult in families

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Change the Foreign Service entry process, so many good candidates do not make it while many mediocre ones do, do a better job of weeding out people who are terrible managers or otherwise incompetent

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3.  

    Not Bad

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Fulbright Researcher in Mumbai
    Former Employee - Fulbright Researcher in Mumbai

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    I was on a Fulbright fellowship which was really sweet. I traveled to India and got to do a lot of cool stuff that I wanted to. And there was very little oversight so you could be your own boss.

    Cons

    Foreign countries are difficult to live in. Really think about what you want to achieve during Fulbright. Also, I don't speak much Hindi so I had trouble to communicate with co-workers. Kind of odd review of state department huh!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    none.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5.  

    Great Experience

    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State as an intern

    Pros

    Incredible opportunities to meet upper level employees

    Cons

    Long application process takes months

    Recommends
  6.  

    Full of interesting issues and people, but culture can get political and underhanded.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Foreign Affairs Officer in Washington, DC (US)
    Current Employee - Foreign Affairs Officer in Washington, DC (US)

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    Interesting work
    Diverse and very smart colleagues
    Good benefits
    Can work on very high impact issues

    Cons

    Bureaucracy can be limiting, especially for those not on a political track
    Travel can be fatiguing
    Long hours

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7.  

    Big Government in a Small Department

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Program Analyst in Washington, DC (US)
    Current Employee - Program Analyst in Washington, DC (US)

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Unique opportunities to see exotic parts of the world
    Dynamic environment
    Critical function in providing diplomacy for the U.S.
    Great opportunity to meet people from far off places.

    Cons

    Bureaucracy, bureaucracy
    Small offices, Large personalities
    Stovepipes and silos slow progress and increase frustration.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stronger strategic vision and plan
    Breakdown stovepipes and silos

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    Foreign Service: Excellent benefits, rewarding work, frustrating culture at times

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Kabul (Afghanistan)
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Kabul (Afghanistan)

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Being a US Foreign Service Officer or Specialist with the State Department can be a really rewarding career and an exciting lifestyle- assuming you can be honest with yourself and your family. The ability to travel the world (a different country every 1-3 years), serve the American People, and get excellent benefits such as education repayment (for service in hardship posts only), free housing (though not always what you'd choose- but free), and generous pensions and TSP matching is unrivaled. In general the working hours are less than the private sector (though the job will take as much time as you give it)

    Cons

    The lifestyle is not for everyone. Spousal work arrangements can vary widely from country to country, childcare and education opportunities can be frustrate, and the profound lack of continuity of a long-term "home" are not to be scoffed at. Inndividual embassies nad offices can change radically depending on personnel who are constantly rotating. An excellent culture both socially and professionally can change overnight with the departure of a colleague, or even the change of Ambassador with profound ramifications. The promotion and evaluation system is very complicated, and seeming dullards can sometimes advance to levels beyond their abilities wreaking havoc on local staff and junior American staff (not necessarrily junior in age).

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Commission a new outside study to hopefully improve the employee evaluation system. Also, perhaps revise the bidding system for onward assignments for mid-level officers to match that of entry-level officers.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    Great internship

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - ITEP Intern in Washington, DC (US)
    Current Employee - ITEP Intern in Washington, DC (US)

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    paid, open door policies, everyone willing to share their experiences and help you grow. great for students

    Cons

    you're either doing nothing or too much

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    create more structure in the internship programs, like a mandatory project or presentation. sometimes interns had to chase officers and ask for parts on a project

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    Good experience at US Consulate General Guangzhou

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State full-time

    Pros

    The work life balance of consular work is truly excellent and you will work with some of the most interesting people.

    Cons

    It is sometimes hard to create change because there are so many systems of approval.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Allow more contribution from FASTOs

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    Great Experience at State

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Human Resources Trainee in Charleston, SC (US)
    Current Employee - Human Resources Trainee in Charleston, SC (US)

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Great people; Intelligent and hardworking teammates on my team; State really pushes for optimum work-life balance; one of the few decently paid internships for people with less than 1 year professional work experience

    Cons

    Majority of supervisors, I have heard, are great to work with, however I ended up with someone who was kicked down from D.C. for all the problems they caused in D.C.; difficult energy wise to work from 8 am - 5:30 pm and take a thesis course over the summer while working

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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