US Department of State Reviews in Washington, DC | Glassdoor

US Department of State Washington DC Reviews

Updated December 14, 2017
388 reviews

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388 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • work/life balance; very formal culture (in 30 reviews)

  • You have to move every two years as part of the foreign service (in 58 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Good place to work but mgmt should give more opportunities for advancement and learning"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Working with extremely bright and motivated individuals
    Can be flexible
    Challenging and exciting work environment

    Cons

    Difficult to advance from GS-12 to GS-13
    It can be too formal and extremely competitive

    Advice to Management

    Don't micromanage your employees and give them a chance to go on detail to explore and learn from other bureaus after they have been at the Department for a while. Certain offices at State didn't allow this.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "I had a good run, but it was time to go..."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    From a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) point of view: varied overseas assignments, where the countries were always interesting even if the day-to-day work wasn't; language training as needed; dedicated colleagues; the opportunity to advance foreign policy/national security interests of the United States.

    Cons

    Frequent moves, which can be difficult for family members; long stretches away from friends/relatives in the US; bureaucratic obstacles (comes with the territory of any USG job!) and relatively low levels of compensation and benefits (as viewed over the course of a three decade career). A final worrisome "con" - the increasing hostility towards diplomacy from our own leadership...

  3. "Tough Under Trump..."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Working at Embassies and Consulates overseas, good benefits, incredibly intelligent colleagues.

    Cons

    Terrible morale right know under the Trump Administration...top career talent is leaving in droves...


  4. "Almost perfect"

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

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

    Pros

    - Great Place to work if you are a Foreign Service Officer;
    - Challenging tasks;
    - Exposure to the world and real issues;
    - You can really feel like you are contributing to global issues;

    Cons

    - As any government organization it has people who makes government look bad and you cant get rid of them;
    - Internal policy change is slow;
    - No real support for employment of spouses, especially spouses with advanced degrees;
    - Many good officers leave or divorce because spouses have extremely limited options for career development;
    - Be prepared to be a one income family for most of your career due to the same reason of spouses having limited options to work;
    - Managing two successful careers at the same time is extremely difficult, borderline impossible;

    Advice to Management

    -Provide more opportunities for spousal employment overseas and support of the spouses when back in the U.S. Like military spouses have some kind of preferential status when applying for jobs within US government. State Department spouses need similar support system.
    -USG already pays for spouses to relocate abroad with a principal officer, why not leverage the immense intellectual capabilities spouses with advanced degrees can bring to the table. It is cheaper than to bring an additional junior or mid-level officer to post to do the job that people who are already at post can do.


  5. "A world of opportunity"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Project Coordinator in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Project Coordinator in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    The ability to travel around the world has been a very rewarding experience for me. It has also provided me with the opportunity to explore new job experiences.

    Cons

    The biggest down fall if you are spouse of a foreign service officer it may be difficult or take a long time to get a job in the Embassy or Consulate while living overseas because the jobs are limited in some regions and there may not be enough jobs to cover all the spouses who want to work.

    Advice to Management

    Management in this type of environment is usually pretty supportive. Keeping a line of communication with your employers is key.


  6. "X"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Contractor - Anonymous Contractor in Washington, DC
    Former Contractor - Anonymous Contractor in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at US Department of State as a contractor (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    Retired. Enjoyed various employment opportunities, locations, and peers. Stimulating foreign counterparts with whom to interact.

    Cons

    Large bureaucracy, little understanding by the American public as to the services you are working to provide them. Within the Foreign Service limited accurate feedback as to your performance.

    Advice to Management

    Provide accurate feedback to employees about performance, including information as to how to improve services to peers and public.


  7. "Special Agent"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Special Agent in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Special Agent in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Worldwide availibility allows you to grow beyond your peers

    Cons

    Worldwide availability makes it difficult to raise children/family.

  8. "Meaningful, important work."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Information Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Information Officer in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Meaningful work, represent my contry

    Cons

    Bureaucracy, lack of innovation, "the swamp"


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Foreign Service Officer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    The projects and assignments you work on truly make a difference for the country and people's lives around the world.

    Cons

    HR actively works against your interest in cases where the needs of the service do not align 100% with individual personal/professional preferences.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to your rank and file, and don't typecast FSOs. Everyone's the best and brightest, and they all draw from incredibly different backgrounds. Don't assume that someone can't perform because they're too young or too old, or don't have a Harvard/Harvard bachelor's/master's combo.


  10. "Security Engineer"

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

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Living overseas and frequent global travel provided a better understanding of our place in the world and the international policies of the U.S. government.

    Cons

    The numerous levels of departmental and inter-agency bureaucracy were difficult to navigate to accomplish personal, professional, and mission goals.

    Advice to Management

    Wide-open and frequent communications alleviates personnel's frustrations and clarifies common interests in mission progressions.


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