US Department of State

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US Department of State Reviews in Washington, DC

Updated August 17, 2014
Updated August 17, 2014
322 Reviews

3.9
322 Reviews
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US Department of State Secretary of State John Kerry
John Kerry
80 Ratings

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)

More Highlights

133 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Work with great minds and learn the best in Diplomacy

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

    Pros

    Many learning opportunities for interns (tours, career fairs, presentations).
    Work with diverse group of people on important issues.

    Cons

    Slow to implement new technologies.
    Interns may find themselves with not much to do, but with the right initiative you can find a niche.
    Doesn't seem like a lot of interns go on to full-time employment.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Need better structure for intern training and career conversion.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 1 person found this helpful  

    Fascinating place to learn about US policy; wouldn't want to spend a career there

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

    Pros

    Great learning experience for US foreign policy formulation and implementation; learn how to move paper and make decisions efficiently in a major organization with huge interdependencies across offices. Opportunity to work with other USG agencies in lead position. Great for networking.

    Cons

    Hierarchical and bureaucratic; obviously very political; decisions must often be made for political reasons rather than technical ones. Very reactive. After about 6-moths I had mastered my policy coordination job and it became rote. Moved on after 1 year.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
  3.  

    Exceptional leadership opportunities and diverse portfolios

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

    Pros

    Great benefits, diverse work that always keeps me interested, a lot of room for taking on work that I find personally interesting, good team members, excellent network.

    Cons

    Not always great management, constant tension between foreign and civil service, heavy turnover leads to unstable working environment.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Encourage leadership training and management training, acknowledge and follow legal differences in foreign and civil service work force.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5. 4 people found this helpful  

    Amazing work and an opportunity to see the world, but suffocating bureaucracy and serious costs for health and family.

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

    Pros

    The Foreign Service provides some of the very best jobs in foreign affairs and public policy, especially at embassies overseas, where you have autonomy and responsibility for important, engaging issues. Embassy communities are generally tight-knit, and if you like seeing the world, there are few ways to do so with such good overseas benefits.

    Cons

    The bureaucracy, from human resources to policy making, is stifling, especially at headquarters in Washington, DC. The evaluation and promotion system is broken and unreliable, and the way assignments are handed out can be intensely political and geared toward those who serve in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Pakistan. There is an illusion of meritocracy, but a reality of "who you know." I have never encountered a more passive-aggressive corporate culture, and such behavior is rewarded as "diplomatic." Never underestimate the negative effect of the Foreign Service lifestyle on your health or your family. Many hardship posts present actual life-or-death situations with sub-standard health care, and far too many senior Foreign Service Officers are lifetime singles or divorced.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Reform the evaluation and promotion system. The current one is Byzantine and depends very little on either accomplishments or potential. Likewise, seek to add transparency to the assignments process, and discontinue the linking system. Look out for spouses, not just children of employees working overseas - clerical jobs don't cut it for professional spouses, and embassies need to do a better job learning the local job market to help them find meaningful work. Don't just medevac employees and their families - boost the capacity of overseas medical units.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6.  

    An agency with a lot of potential.

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

    Pros

    Travel, pay, and a lot of training.

    Cons

    Too many ego's and employee dissatisfaction.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Practice what you preach.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 1 person found this helpful  

    Prestige, but very high turnover and no opportunities

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

    Pros

    Access to many high level people

    Cons

    No room to grow, and hindered by bureacracy

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8. 2 people found this helpful  

    Diplomacy is their forte not IT

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

    Pros

    The people are great, the salary is awesome. If you are an engineer, computer scientist or Information Technology Specialist they have a skills incentive program that can increase your base salary from 8% - 14% depending on the education or certification you receive while emlpoyed here. There is nothing like it in the federal space at all.

    Cons

    Technology and diplomats do not mix. There is deep misunderstanding in engineering, physical sciences, information and computer sciences in this agency. Poor system engineering principles at play and those who are in charge do not know what they don't know.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Hire the following disciplines: computer scientist, network engineers, information systems, electrical engineers as opposed to technology specialist. Hire those federal and private contractors who are graduates of ABET accredited institutions with less focus on certifications and federal tenure.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great experience

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

    Pros

    Variety of projects; incredibly smart co-workers; travel; lifestyle

    Cons

    Results not strictly measured; knowledge management across Embassies lacking

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stick to the Mission goals

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Smart people, good mission.

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

    Pros

    Fascinating to be a part of foreign policy. You will have the opportunity to be a part of history. You will travel to parts of the world most Americans will never see.

    Cons

    Very, very bureaucratic and risk averse. Careerism is a plague at State. Mid-level officers all too often take their eye off the mission in favor of protecting careers. However, there are some excellent people as well.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop thinking about your careers.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11. 2 people found this helpful  

    Hired help

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

    Pros

    extensive travel to overseas locations

    Cons

    Long hours of with absolutely no recognition by management

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    none

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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