US Department of State

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US Department of State Reviews

Updated December 18, 2014
Updated December 18, 2014
375 Reviews
3.9
375 Reviews
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US Department of State Secretary of State John Kerry
John Kerry
108 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

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  1.  

    Foreign Service - The Best Job in the Government

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

    I worked at US Department of State

    Pros

    Living overseas, variety of positions, excellent training opportunities, travel galore, high level of responsibility very early on in your career, excellent work-life balance, outstanding benefit package including pension and Thrift Savings Plan (government 401k).

    Cons

    Limited choice of opportunities early in career, possible separation of family for some danger post assignments (Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.), long hours and weekend work possible depending on assignment, changing positions and countries every 2-4 years is required but up to 5 years is possible in Washington, DC. Limited reward for performance.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Compensation is oftentimes lacking for those that work hard. Human Resources system is broken.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Intern with the Department of State.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Intern in London, England (UK)
    Former Employee - Intern in London, England (UK)

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    I was extremely happy with my decision to intern for the Department of State while studying abroad. It was an invaluable experience and I learned a tremendous amount. It is a fantastic opportunity to gain knowledge in diplomacy and to be treated like an FSO while working for the embassy in order to truly grasp what it means to be a diplomat. FSO's get to travel the world and have immense policy influence in times and places of crisis.

    Cons

    Work-life balance is poor. You move every two years or so which can be difficult on relationships and family. The bureaucracy of the State Department can become very frustrating. Long hours of work and you're always on call.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    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

  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5.  

    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
  6.  

    I love it!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State full-time

    Pros

    Great place to work. There is a lot to do and every day is different.

    Cons

    You will always be living in different places.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  7.  

    Summer Intern

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State as an intern

    Pros

    Depends on which office you're in. I worked in a office where the number of staff was small so there was much more interaction between interns and the staff. I was also given much more autonomy over my projects and felt like I learned a lot from the summer internship.

    Cons

    Some interns shared that in other offices, they did more routine paperwork and assistance. These offices were usually bigger so there wasn't as much interaction between staff and interns.

    Recommends
  8.  

    Working for the State Department was a great experience.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Information Assistant
    Former Employee - Information Assistant

    I worked at US Department of State full-time

    Pros

    Interesting work, smart and capable colleagues, collaboration and opportunities to make a difference.

    Cons

    Need to sensitive to and aware of a variety of issues at all times.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9.  

    Rewarding, mostly, despite the bureaucracy

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State

    Pros

    Making a significant contribution; helping people
    Good pay and benefits
    Variety of challenges, varied activities within any given workday
    Get to work with intelligent good-hearted people

    Cons

    The bureaucracy. Can be frustrating, slow, and offer little room for creativity
    Poor managers: while subject matter expertise is important, these people often do not make the best managers nor do they seem to like the role
    Being dependent on an annual budget from Congress, which is always late, makes it hard to plan.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Take morale problems seriously and take steps to address them

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO
  10.  

    Great Experience

    Former Employee - Intern in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Intern in Washington, DC

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    I worked in an office within the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. It was fast paced and always interesting. If you are considering a career in the Foreign Service, this is a great way to find out if the work if for you.

    Cons

    You work for free for long hours. It is expensive to live in D.C. The bureaucracy of the State Department can get really frustrating.

  11.  

    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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