US Department of State
3.8 of 5 308 reviews
www.state.gov Washington, DC 5000+ Employees

US Department of State Reviews

Updated Jul 2, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.8 308 reviews

                             

89% Approve of the CEO

US Department of State Secretary of State John Kerry

John Kerry

(76 ratings)

87% of employees recommend this company to a friend
308 Employee Reviews
in

Review Highlights

Pros:
  • "See the world, protect the best brand in the world - the US"
    in 11 reviews
  • "I worked at the Foreign Service Institute, where they train diplomats"
    in 20 reviews
Cons:
  • "Foreign Service officers are then central employee core and taken care of"
    in 26 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
  • Show more review highlights

Reviews

    1 person found this helpful  

    Great experience, exciting environment.

    Public Affairs Intern (Current Employee)
    Washington, DC

    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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    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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    • 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

    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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    • 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!

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    1 person found this helpful  

    Great experience living overseas

    Foreign Service Officer (Current Employee)
    Washington, DC

    ProsExperience different cultures and countries. See the world while serving your country.

    ConsThird world locations, tough living conditions.

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    1 person found this helpful  

    Embassy Intern

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsFree housing, manageable hours, good mentors

    Consnone that I can think of

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    2 people found this helpful  

    Former Foreign Service Officer (Generalist)

    Foreign Service Officer (Former Employee)
    Washington, DC

    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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    1 person found this helpful  

    Consistently one of the Best places to work in the Federal Government

    Special Agent (Current Employee)
    Chicago, IL

    ProsWorldwide Travel with limitless career development. An adventure at every post, but the life you can create for yourself is completely unique.

    ConsTime away from family on certain assignments. Large bureaucracy, so there are issues that are consistent with those institutions. Flexibility is a must in this organization because of the fluid nature of international politics and diplomacy. That said...you will be at the forefront of history in many situations.

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

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    • No Opinion of CEO

     

    Bureaucratic But ...

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsUnique global opportunities and responsibilities. Sometimes you feel like you could make a difference.

    ConsDespite the responsibilities given, the decision making is stifled and managers are hit and miss.

    Advice to Senior ManagementMake a difference, don't just talk about making a difference.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    Internship

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsGreat work-life balance, great location, prestigious work environment, and a newly renovated cafeteria. People are generally helpful, although not necessarily friendly.

    ConsThe competitive work environment can foster adversarial relationships among staff members. If you metro to work every day, the Foggy Bottom metro station can be a bit of a hike in the DC summer heat and humidity.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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Glassdoor is your free inside look at US Department of State reviews and ratings — including employee satisfaction and approval rating for US Department of State CEO John Kerry. All 308 reviews posted anonymously by US Department of State employees.