US Department of State Reviews in Washington, DC | Glassdoor

US Department of State Washington DC Reviews

Updated November 10, 2017
385 reviews

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385 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. Helpful (1)

    "Current Leadership Needs to Lead"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Foreign Affairs Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Foreign Affairs Officer in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Opportunities for travel, great working level people who are mission focused, prestige.

    Cons

    Current leadership since January 2017 has really put the place in the dumps. Senior leadership seems aloof and does not engage lower staff for advice.

    Advice to Management

    Fill out your team and lead the Department.


  2. "FSO"

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

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

    Pros

    I get to serve my country.
    I get to travel the world and see interesting places and work with interesting people every two-three years.

    Cons

    Constantly moving.
    A lot of Type A people

    Advice to Management

    DC management is in flux at the moment.

  3. "Foreign Service Officer"

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

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

    Pros

    Great satisfaction at representing your country with colleagues that are dedicated to the values and goals of the United States. Opportunities are endless to learn new skills, languages, and specializations -- the learning never stops. Work with the smartest and most interesting people, both Americans and foreign country nationals. Great way to live abroad and know countries beyond the typical tourist route.

    Cons

    Long periods of separation from your relatives and hometown friends. Particularly difficult choices to be made when your parents or other relatives are elderly and in need of care. Difficult for spouses to have a professional career. The living and work conditions in many countries can be unhealthy, lack personal safety, make one the target of host country harassments or threats, and sometimes life threatening. The lack of advanced medical care in many countries means you might have a delayed diagnosis or need to travel for medical treatment -- even for injuries from car accidents.

    Advice to Management

    The Foreign Service has recruited officers and specialists of exceptional intelligence, dedication, and commitment. We must always ensure that members of the Service are recognized for their dedication and sacrifice and are given the resources to achieve our foreign policy mission.


  4. "Great Federal Government Employer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Investigative Assistant in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Investigative Assistant in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Intelligent, driven colleagues. Fascinating work.

    Cons

    Still a part of the federal bureaucracy. Current Sec of State not committed to diplomacy or the ideals of the department.


  5. "Great but initially overwhelming"

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

    I have been working at US Department of State as an intern (More than a year)

    Pros

    Many opportunities for growth, learning and mentorship. Amazingly talented staff and exciting work.

    Cons

    Confusing building, bureaucracy, and HR can be a pain to deal with. However, the new administration has struggled to get its bearings.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Foreign Service Officer"

    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
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Job security, overseas travel, language training, emergency travel benefits, pension = 1.7% of salary for first 20 years of employment, 1% after that.

    Cons

    Constant movement means you're never an expert for long, relocation tough on the friends and family, promotions not directly linked to performance, assignments selection process opaque and sometimes unfair, unconscious bias is tolerated and and institutional structures make it difficult for women and minorities to advance to senior positions. Most departments have a long wall of photos of previous Assistant Secretaries; about 90 percent have been white males.

    Advice to Management

    Revise performance evaluation process to remove reference to name or gender; require yearly training on unconscious bias, provide greater support for non-traditional families and employees married to immigrants.


  7. Helpful (2)

    "Strong Upsides for Foreign Deployments, But Serious Organizational Issues"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Program Officer in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Program Officer in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Foreign postings with paid housing and other benefits, interesting and at times inspiring work, access to extensive foreign language training, service to country, diverse position opportunities over the course of a career.

    Cons

    A very weak management and leadership culture, paid professional development opportunities can be difficult to secure, lack of accountability structures, sclerotic institutional culture, top-down creativity culture, lack of control over many key variables, like the composition of your team, chronic inability to deal with poor or even criminal performance, poor work/life balance culture overall, but little pockets of good balance can be found. Internal service provision to employees is often poor, and IT support and tools are very poor.

    Advice to Management

    The Department is in need of a massive overhaul in its personnel policies, particularly in talent recruitment and retention. The Department needs to take on the institutional blockages for dealing with poor performers. While language study is a requisite part of the career track, all to often students are given passing marks for very poor actual fluency in the target language. There needs to be mandatory, extensive leadership and management training at every level, which is now absent. Make judgement of senior leaders contingent on 360s, particularly from subordinates to take on a "kiss up, kick down" culture.

  8. "FSO: Still Rewarding, Domestic Politics Aside"

    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
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    The opportunity to serve our country, represent America and Americans to the world, and the chance to take care of fellow citizens.

    Cons

    The bureaucracy stifles talent. Multiple levels of decision making. Lack of control over life.

    Advice to Management

    FSOs are unbiased professionals. Trust in them.


  9. Helpful (2)

    "More than Just a Career"

    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

    The Foreign Service life gives you the amazing opportunity to live abroad while performing a valuable public service. In addition to broadening your horizons and exposing yourself to new languages, cultures, and surroundings, you get to do substantive work that advances U.S. interests and strengthens bilateral relations between the United States and your host country. The travel opportunities are endless and many of my contacts and colleagues have become lifelong friends.

    Cons

    The bureaucracy is abysmal and it seems like you are always fighting some battle against the Department. With a world of emerging technologies available to us, sometimes it feels like we are stuck in the past when it comes to arranging transfers from post to post. The Foreign Service does not value diversity of opinion as much as it says and if you do not neatly fit into one of the standard categories of diplomats, you will have a hard time.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to your employees and erase the phrase "that's the way it has always been" from your repertoire. Fix the broken HR system from hiring to advancement to retirement. Taxpayers spend a huge amount of money on our training and transportation, so it is a disservice that we do not invest as much in professional, management, and leadership development as the military.


  10. "D.S. Agent"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Diplomatic Security Agent in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Diplomatic Security Agent in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    get to see the world and provided housing overseas

    Cons

    Married more to your job than you are your spouse and treated like a number not a person


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