US Department of State Reviews | Glassdoor

US Department of State Reviews

Updated May 29, 2017
710 reviews

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710 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • work/life balance; very formal culture (in 25 reviews)

  • Very few promotion opportunities for civil servants; still dominated by the foreign service (in 50 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (1)

    "Foggy Bottom"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Administrative Assistant in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Administrative Assistant in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Regular, reliable, fascinating work, stable. People are interesting and friendly.

    Cons

    Computers are slow. Al lot of regulations need to be learned. Culture is conservative.

    Advice to Management

    There are a large number of departmental meetings held and perhaps they could be kept shorter.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Great for travel but a sprawling bureaucracy!"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Advisor for Digital Platforms in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Senior Advisor for Digital Platforms in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Continuous professional development. Lots of options for travel. Great diversity in staffing, issues, and policy areas.

    Cons

    Very large and difficult to navigate bureaucracy. Lots of mid-level management turnover.


  3. Helpful (1)

    "Great place to work with a great mission"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The opportunity to travel and the mission to help people around the world.

    Cons

    Very bureaucratic and that can get in the way of doing things efficiently. Employees tend to be very hierarchical.

    Advice to Management

    Focus more on the work life balance os employees


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  5. Helpful (1)

    "English Language Specialist"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - English Language Specialist in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - English Language Specialist in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Interesting work with great people from the department supporting you. All living and travel expenses are paid. Lots of opportunity to develop new skills and try new ideas. Lots of independence in designing your program.

    Cons

    Work and conditions can be demanding, so high levels of expertise, maturity, and flexibility are required. You're a contractor in an international setting, not an employee of the Department, so you are sometimes not invited to events and rarely get the perks the employees do like shopping at the commissary, etc.

    Advice to Management

    I know it's often a funding issue, but try to invite contractors to events when locals will be there. The locals expect to see them there and it creates an awkward social situation when they are not.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Great place to work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Foreign Affairs Officer in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Foreign Affairs Officer in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Really interesting work, helping your country

    Cons

    Big bureaucracy, things move slowly.


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Poor training, poor managers"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Living overseas, travel, free language school

    Cons

    Too many egos, lower quality employees often hired to maintain some mythical "diversity" as if capability alone is not sufficient.

    Advice to Management

    Reach out to minorities but don't hire on the basis of quotas. Stop telling new FSOs that they are the best and the brightest - they're not.


  8. "Great place to work, especially if you are beginning your career"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Foreign Affairs Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Foreign Affairs Officer in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    The Department is considerably bottom-middle heavy which becomes a great career opportunity for many young urban professionals residing in the DC Metropolitan area who are starting their careers. Some of the nation's highest international studies schools, NGOs, and Think Tanks surrounds the Foggy Bottom vicinity, making it easier to engage on many issues that impact the work of the Department. State offers several internship, fellowship and contractor positions and presents a great entry level opportunity for individuals starting out, and who want a solid career in foreign affairs. As I am coming up on 8 years working at State, you find many people starting out at a low GS grade level, but with opportunity to get promoted each year with good performance, and rotational programs to work on other projects and a chance to work overseas with Foreign Service Officers. The Department brings in approximately 3,000 student interns a year from all over the world, and a good portion of them become full-time permanent federal employees upon completing their academic studies. You really cannot ask for a better public sector opportunity with career mobility and job satisfaction!

    Cons

    As you move up within your career ladder, you will find at times the higher positions are limited, especially for civil servants. Once you pass GS-12/GS-13, you will find it harder to find GS-14 and above career jobs that either have already been filled or do not exist in some bureaus or offices. It is even harder to find non-supervisory GS-14 and above jobs. This places a heavy burden on those who might want to make a higher salary (which is usually political football on Capitol Hill). Often you might find some people leaving State to leverage their federal skills at private sector companies for management opportunities, and yes, a bigger paycheck. Though, this is all dependent upon your own feeling of self worth, experience and earning potential you feel you require in life. There are those who are comfortable at their current salary, and wish not to take on management roles. It's all personal preference.

    Advice to Management

    There needs to be a reform in management writ large. Managers learn to "manage up" verse "manage down" as they should be doing, and often takes focus away from employee development and career achievement. There are some managers who are very knowledgeable on the subject matter, but simply cannot manage. This often begs the question why they are in management.


  9. "America's Foreign Policy Arm"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Foreign Affairs Officer in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Foreign Affairs Officer in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Great opportunities to represent America and develop solutions to real-world foreign policy issues.

    Cons

    As with much of government, the State Department large bureaucracy with many redundant functions. Promotions up the ladder almost entirely dependent on likability and networking. Entrance into the senior executive service virtually intractable outside of a political appointment. Many of the Department's more important historic roles now fall under the onus of the White House/NSC, particularly when it comes to highly-politicized hot-button issues.

    Advice to Management

    Gut the Department: As much as 60% of the agency's workforce is redundant.


  10. "Department of State's Law Enforcement Bureau"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Special Agent in Fort Lee, NJ
    Current Employee - Special Agent in Fort Lee, NJ
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    You get to travel the world in a fast paced and challenging environment with US diplomats. The job is never boring with new experiences all the time

    Cons

    You have to move every two years as part of the foreign service. Being always on the move can be challenging for the family

    Advice to Management

    Be more transparent in decision making.


  11. "Great career and lifestyle"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Principled, intelligent and driven people working on the most important issues of the day.

    Cons

    Lots of work and stress, and mediocre compensation. If you're looking to get rich, this is the wrong career.


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