US Department of State

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US Department of State Reviews

Updated December 11, 2014
Updated December 11, 2014
373 Reviews
3.9
373 Reviews
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US Department of State Secretary of State John Kerry
John Kerry
106 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

199 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1.  

    Overseas Experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Pol/EconOne of the "-stans"
    Current Employee - Pol/EconOne of the "-stans"

    I have been working at US Department of State as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Great opportunity to get experience in diplomacy. "You'll get the most out of this and we'll get the most out of you if we treat you like an FSO, so that's what we're going to do." Housing was provided, although this isn't as likely in some of the European posts. Great way to experience foreign culture, and one of the few USG internships that you can do overseas.

    Cons

    The expat community can be pretty insular. Workload was bipolar- sometimes we had too much work and were struggling to keep up, other times I came into work and read the news all day.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Exciting but unpredictable

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at US Department of State

    Pros

    You get to see the world

    Cons

    Limited control over where you go - subject to fate

  3.  

    Fulfilling work, great coworkers, see the world

    • 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 3 years)

    Pros

    I've enjoyed my first two experiences with the Foreign Service. If you come in on the track that is the best fit for you (in my case, Political) you should enjoy it. The bureaucracy actually takes care of you pretty well, contrary to what many assume of the federal government. The work is varied and sometimes exciting. If you're talented and work hard, you can do good things for your country. If you're up for living abroad most of your life -- away from your family, core friends, and support network -- you'll have some amazing experiences. Pay and benefits are good - a big step up from my non-profit past. I also have a lot more autonomy than I had in the non-profit world; as a Foreign Service Officer you are rather empowered to do what's best for your country.

    Cons

    Unfortunately State has been overshadowed or muscled out more often than it should be other, better-funded agencies of the government (Defense, etc.) I've had some bosses who stand up for State's rightful territory but others who have not. Also, you REALLY have to be dedicated to government service and living overseas for years at a time, in places that may not be your first choice. If not, don't sign up.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5.  

    Live Overseas, See the World, Get a reliable Paycheck

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Project Manager in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Senior Project Manager in Washington, DC

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    -Travel is amazing, I've seen more than 20 countries in 10 years
    -USG benefits are great, retirement,healthcare, schooling for family overseas
    -The Money is pretty good for the work completed

    Cons

    -Never get rich
    -Budget is constantly being cut
    -Constantly competing for new jobs
    -Sometimes have to live in places you'd never previously consider
    -Some hardship tours away from family
    -Seem pretty obsessed with "quota filling"

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6.  

    Mostly positive

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Deputy Director in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Deputy Director in Washington, DC

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

    Pros

    Advancing U.S. foreign policy priorities; implementing international arms control treaties

    Cons

    24/7/365 operation where individual employees matter; during contingencies the Center is always at risk of not having enough employees to do the job

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Severe lack of leadership at all levels in the AVC Bureau

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7.  

    Good experience although DOS is generally risk-adverse and reactive

    • 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 10 years)

    Pros

    I have worked with amazing people while with State and really enjoyed my overseas tours. Working at Main State in DC is a very different experience, although it was helpful to serve in DC and learn about our dynamics with our leadership, Congress, and other agencies. The hours and pay are reasonable. It is a privilege to represent the U.S. government.

    Cons

    There seems to be an aversion to innovative thinking or risk-taking. This can be stifling for those officers who want to make changes that would benefit the Department as a whole. In addition, while we spend an inordinate amount of time working on long-term strategy documents, they are almost never used and we spend time instead dealing with the "crisis of the day". This prevents long-term planning on issues we could actually impact. Too often, State Department leaders fail to listen to country/technical experts and make decisions based on political winds. This reflects our overall poor relationship with Congress and our inability to explain effectively the importance of our work.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Develop a more effective way of working with Congress and explaining what the State Department does. Balance the political winds with advice from real country/technical experts. Develop leaders in the Department who have management skill. Too often, people are promoted due to years of service instead of competence.

    Recommends
  8.  

    Decent place to work, if you can get past the politics

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

    I have been working at US Department of State as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    --Relatively laid back atmosphere
    --Flexible work environment
    --Lots of room for training and certifications, should your office have the budget for it and allow you to pursue it
    --Sometimes the work is interesting

    Cons

    The workplace politics at DoS are INSANE. If you want to get anywhere at DoS, you MUST play the political game. Coworkers are not the friendliest.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Please consider raises based upon merit and completion of work. I've grown increasingly jaded by the fact one can only ascend here with kissing enough...well, you get the picture.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    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
    Current Employee - Foreign Affairs Officer in Washington, DC

    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
  10.  

    Big Government in a Small Department

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

    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
  11.  

    Great internship

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

    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

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