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
in

    1 person found this helpful  

    intern

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    Prosconstant evaluation allowed me to improve all the time

    Conssome time the constant evaluation can be intimidating

    • Culture & Values
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    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

     

    London Embassy internship

    Intern (Former Employee) London, England

    ProsThe city is, of course, extraordinary and the people working at the embassy are an impressive group city. Most FSOs have come from hardship areas and are treasure troves of information about various parts of the world. Because of the embassy's size there are many different agencies represented in the building, which provides a good opportunity to speak with people carrying out a variety of missions for the US Government. Also, the embassy and the UK's central position in US European policy means that a lot is happening around the embassy at any given time.

    ConsThe mission's size is as much a detriment as it is a benefit. FSOs don't have the time to brainstorm for projects and didn't seem too compelled to bring the interns into their work unless the interns made a push to be involved. This is most frustrating for interns who don't have well-defined interests or a specific topic or region they would like to focus on during their tenure. Also, the internship is unpaid, without housing or transportation stipends of any sort.

    Advice to Senior ManagementA more formal, structured intern program would help the interns feel better connected to and more engaged in the embassy's work.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
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    • No Opinion of CEO

     

    Great experience, good benefits, hard work

    Foreign Service Officer (Former Employee)

    ProsYou get to really be at the front lines of diplomacy. The job of a foreign service officer is very well respected and the benefits are great (free housing, home leave, medical care). Plus, you get to see the world.

    ConsMoving every few years can become wearing. The Dept. of State is very much USG and as such there is a high level of bureaucracy to navigate.

    Advice to Senior ManagementFlexibility with part-time or leave without pay after people become parents would probably help with employee retention.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
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    • No Opinion of CEO

     

    Passport Clerk

    Passport Clerk (Former Employee) London, England

    Pros-Pay is rather well provided it was an easy job.
    -Great group of fellow co-workers and the environment was wonderful.

    Cons-Difficult to get hired provided weak UK economy and 100s of applications per job posted.
    -Even with a Bachelors degree it was difficult to get this position that requires only a high school diploma.
    -Security Clearance is a bit of a pain due to length of process.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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

     

    U.S. Department of State Internship

    FPU Intern (Former Employee) London, England

    ProsYou get to see the world, you get a sense of importance and duty, you get to serve your country. One of the best places to network due to fluidity of workforce. I had good management. Had the opportunity to meet famous people, particularly in politics.

    ConsA bit of an elitist atmosphere, a little bureaucratic, as and FSO you are forced to relocated every couple of years. You dedicate your life to the job. Many Internships (as was mine) are unpaid.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
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    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • 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.

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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

    • Culture & Values
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    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • 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

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • 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

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