US Department of State

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US Department of State Reviews

Updated 5 March 2015
Updated 5 March 2015
402 Reviews
3.9
402 Reviews
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US Department of State Secretary of State John Kerry
John Kerry
119 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • If you work for the Foreign Service, you get to see the world in so many meaningful ways (in 30 reviews)

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


Cons
  • The biggest turn off for me were actually the foreign service officers (in 32 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 a 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 a 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.  

    Good place to intern depending on your office

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

    I worked at US Department of State as an intern (less than a year)

    Pros

    If you can deal with the bureaucracy of the State Department, you're prepared for working anywhere else in the Federal government. Some of the FSOs/CSOs there are great people to learn from.

    Cons

    Extremely rigid bureaucracy can be frustrating sometimes; depending on your placement it can be a very useful learning experience or a terrible exercise in scut work.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    It would be nice if there were differentiated internships based on whether you were coming in as an undergraduate student or a graduate student with experience; I was utilized well by my office given my work experience and education, but other graduate students I knew were not.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
  6.  

    Very good experience for college students

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Intern - Intern in Beijing, Beijing (China)
    Former Intern - Intern in Beijing, Beijing (China)

    I worked at US Department of State as an intern (less than a year)

    Pros

    I was surprised that I was rarely treated as an intern. I was treated like a fellow FSO (albeit low-level) and was given tasks accordingly. It's a great way to get research, organizational, and administrative experience in another country. They pay for your housing and help you get set up.

    Cons

    Unpaid, they don't subsidize flight or food. Sometimes, when people were busy, they just forgot they had interns. There's also no rehire possibility because there's a federal hiring process.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Offer travel and food stipends. Have a more organized internship program where interns can get to know each other and have social events.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7.  

    Diverse.

    • 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

    Pros

    Great benefits. interesting work. Great coworkers.

    Cons

    Micromanaged. Exhausting. high level of communication needed.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    None.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    It has been a nice ride, now ready to move on

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

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    Lots of training, free services (all sorts of counselling), interesting work

    Cons

    Antiquated systems, amazing bureaucracy, lots of egos

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Good people need to be valued more

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9.  

    Living and working abroad representing the USG.

    • 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

    Pros

    excitement, impact, org culture, super smart and interesting people

    Cons

    beaurocracy, rules for everything, moving every 2 years (could be a pro!)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  10.  

    Phenomenal, exhausting, worth it

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

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Extremely challenging, sense of purpose, decent compensation, opportunities for international travel/living. Outstanding, high-achieving colleagues who work as a team. Almost every manager I ever had was great and cared not just about policy, but about the people they managed. If you show you're competent, you'll get more responsibility.

    Cons

    Poor work-life balance, culture of CYA, bureaucratic wrangling can be frustrating, zero consequences for poor management (since most managers move on within 2 years, higher-ups are content to pass the buck and let poor managers slide), some favoritism, conflict among Foreign Service Officers - Civil Servants - and Political Appointees.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Pay close attention to middle management and emphasize accountability. Hold all employees accountable instead of counting down the days until they leave. Pay attention to retention rates and morale in particular offices.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    Foreign Service Officer

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

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Fascinating work, smart and dedicated colleagues, see the world, do work that matters, serve the American people

    Cons

    Big bureaucracy with its share of dead wood that puts a premium on policy over people.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Rethink the hiring and retention process; a system that is almost 50 years old is not competitive and won't get or retain the best people

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

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