US Department of State

  www.state.gov
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US Department of State Reviews

Updated Jul 19, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.8 310 reviews

90% Approve of the CEO

US Department of State Secretary of State John Kerry

John Kerry

(77 ratings)

87% of employees recommend this company to a friend

Review Highlights

Pros
  • See the world while serving your country(in 12 reviews)

  • I worked at the Foreign Service Institute, where they train diplomats(in 22 reviews)


Cons
  • Foreign Service officers are then central employee core and taken care of(in 27 reviews)

  • The biggest challenge is that every two years, there is a rotation of mid-level Foreign Service Officers who arrive with "attitude"(in 15 reviews)

310 Employee Reviews
Relevance Date Rating
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    • Culture & Values
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    Good place to start career

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsSupportive people and great networking

    ConsInefficient and prone to politics

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    • No Opinion of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

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

    Foreign Service Officer (Current Employee)

    ProsTraveling 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

    ConsQuality 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 Senior ManagementChange 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

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    • Approves of CEO

     

    Not Bad

    Fulbright Researcher (Former Employee) Mumbai

    ProsI 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.

    ConsForeign 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 Senior Managementnone.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
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    • Approves of CEO

     

    Family Member Employment

    Community Liaison Office Coordinator (Former Employee) Frankfurt am Main (Germany)

    ProsLiving and working overseas is great! The kids attended excellent international schools and we had the opportunity to explore the world. Full time family member employment came with full benefits, including vacation, sick leave, etc.

    ConsAs a trailing spouse, every time your spouse transfers you need to find a new job. When you get to a new post, there may be many opportunities or none. You may have to wait up to a year for someone to leave post so that you can apply for a job.

    Advice to Senior ManagementProvide more opportunities for family member employment at each post. Regular part-time jobs with benefits during school hours would be especially appreciated.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    1 person found this helpful  

    Great experience, exciting environment.

    Public Affairs Intern (Current Employee) Washington, DC (US)

    ProsIt was a very stimulating environment to work. There were lots of opportunities for interns to visit important places and hear important people. I was able to attend live press briefings at both the White House and the State Dept. Great exposure to the world of International Affairs. Everyone in my office was so friendly and welcoming, and I was given lots of responsibility.

    ConsThe application is drawn out because of the security clearance, but definitely worth it.

    • Culture & Values
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    • No Opinion of CEO

     

    Had a very intensive and progressive experience, while working with US State Department for the last 16 years

    Financial Analyst (Former Employee) Dushanbe (Tajikistan)

    ProsGreat team of local employees and very friendly job environment

    ConsPretty much low salary for the senior staff positions

    Advice to Senior ManagementPlease try to reward your staff more often for all their job done, especially during the salary freeze

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    • Disapproves of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    It's a mixed bag, and not the best place in the federal government for ambitious civil servants

    Foreign Affairs Officer (Former Employee) Washington, DC (US)

    Pros- Opportunity to make an impact on foreign policy decisions; work with very senior officers and talented, intelligent people.
    - Great benefits, and thanks to Colin Powell, civil servants can access training opportunities at the Foreign Service Institute - an impressive institution and rarity in government agencies.
    - Opportunities for TDYs, or longer-term overseas jobs for the well-connected. This provides an excellent way to get overseas experience / exposure without subjecting your family to the long-term costs of a foreign service career.
    - Competent people move up quickly, and get a lot of autonomy. Similarly, technical subject matter expertise is not common trait in leadership, so if you are an expert in something, you will very easily be able to influence policy decisions and fill an important niche.

    Cons- The separate personnel systems between the foreign and civil service are like a cancer that constantly erode the credibility and equity of this entire system. Civil servants, no matter how qualified and competent you are, do not have the same long-term career growth opportunities than their foreign service colleagues. This is an institutional/legislative issue, and can lead to some pretty strange outcomes, including: 1) being managed by FSOs with little subject matter expertise, and various levels of managerial in/competence, 2) constant churn when your leadership changes every 2 years result in inconsistent and sometimes ineffective policy and programmatic outcomes; 3) lack of any long-term strategic thinking; 4) leadership decisions motivated by careerism / politics rather than technical reasons.
    - This organization is very complex, and a lot of your success depends on being to navigate politics within the building. That's all fine, but given the proliferation of political appointee specialty offices, it's difficult. New offices / working groups / initiatives take the focus of diplomacy, which is really State's core competency. A lot of the other stuff, this organization just doesn't do so well.

    Advice to Senior ManagementDual personnel system results in high attrition of many of your best and brightest civil servants.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    • No Opinion of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    Good international opportunities; terrible human resources system

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsGood opportunities for international work. The very best Foreign Service Officers are very good.

    ConsExcessively rigid tenure and promotion system does not reward initiative and allows almost everyone, even the bad apples, to obtain tenure (approx 98% tenure rate). Career advancement emphasized over professional development, and insular environment, union, and lack of mid-level hiring creates an echo chamber-like environment within which everyone perceives their abilities to be excellent even when demonstrably false.

    Advice to Senior ManagementOpen up the diplomatic service to mid-level hiring and reduce the percentage of officers who are tenured. Emphasize professional skills development as a means to career advancement instead of separating the two ideas, Encourage officers to become experts in at least one skill or discipline. And reward innovation by overhauling the review and promotion process to focus on advancing mission objectives instead of just working on isolated projects.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Approves of CEO

     

    Internships vary widely

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsAbility to work in huge DC federal agency, make contacts. Looks good on resume.

    ConsQuality of internship depends hugely on which bureau it's in -- working in an area bureau is a lot more rewarding than working somewhere like ECA, where I did, because you get to do more hands-on research. Make sure you are really passionate about the work of the bureau before accepting the offer, not just international affairs in general.

    Advice to Senior ManagementPay your interns!

    • Culture & Values
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    • Approves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    Former Foreign Service Officer (Generalist)

    Foreign Service Officer (Former Employee) Washington, DC (US)

    ProsExcellent training, benefits and opportunity to contribute at senior levels when serving overseas in smaller nations. Especially enjoyed working in the Africa Bureau, where the Department has a lot of autonomy in conducting US foreign policy

    ConsThe promotion system, like the military, is stultified and seniority based. On the occasions I had to work with political appointees, I found them difficult and generally unqualified.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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