US Department of State Reviews in Washington, DC | Glassdoor

US Department of State Washington DC Reviews

Updated April 22, 2017
346 reviews

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346 Employee Reviews

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

  • You have to move every two years as part of the foreign service (in 49 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "DDTC Compliance"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Specialist in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Specialist in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    The work is good work, given you can actually get it done.

    Cons

    Management is dysfunctional on all levels and this results in a very caught in the middle staff. Management is never available (closed door policy and avoidance policy in full effect) for guidance or training. There is an unfair distribution of rights to chosen people. Teleworking or asking to telework is blasphemous even though your contract or position allows it and management engages or allows others to engage in it at their convenience. I would not recommend this place to my worst enemy.

    Advice to Management

    Be present for guidance. Communicate with your staff. Identify their issues and HELP them solve them, don't avoid issues because you as a manager are there to help them succeed as they are there to help you succeed. Stop picking favorites and allow everybody who is interested to develop. And most importantly if you don't like management...get out of it.


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Foreign service officer"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Stability, travel, work with foreign government officials

    Cons

    Overseas risks, separations from family

    Advice to Management

    More training


  3. "Deputy Assistant Secretary"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Deputy Assistant Secretary in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Deputy Assistant Secretary in Washington, DC
    Recommends

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

    Pros

    High visibility; gratifying work; smart and capable teams of people; expands professional network

    Cons

    work/life balance; very formal culture

    Advice to Management

    Create more opportunities for incoming, younger staff


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  5. 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.


  6. 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.


  7. 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


  8. 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.


  9. 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.


  10. 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.


  11. "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.


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