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Working for the Foreign Service

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Peter McFerrin, Jun 8, 2003.

  1. I've been trying to score a job as a stock researcher, but my father has been talking to me about going for the Foreign Service exam. I've been looking over the materials at the State Department website and I think being in the Foreign Service could be a pretty awesome career. It might impede my musical development a bit (although it'd certainly expose me to a greater variety of musics), and it'd make having a family a bit harder, but other than that I think it could be an amazingly fun career--I'm a jack-of-all-trades kind of guy, which is pretty much what they seem to be looking for.

    Any thoughts on this? Has anyone here taken the exam? It looks pretty intense, but I think I could do it.
  2. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Of course. You wouldn't be a smug bastard otherwise.

    brad cook
  3. Suburban_punk


    May 13, 2003
  4. :smug:

    That necessarily implies mastery of none, of course. Aww yeah--freedom to be mildly inept. :D
  5. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    sounds like the job for you, dude :D. w00t!

    actually, sounds like the job for me too. where do i sign?
  6. I think you have to shave the mull-hawk, JT.
  7. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    One of the regulars over on the EffDeePee - Dingo, maybe? - is a career FSO, I think. You may want to drop him a line.
  8. my next door neighbor and my uncle are in diplomatic security - actually, my neighbor helped my uncle get there. not a bad idea for a job. he got to meet the dalai lama, etc. if you're serious about this, i could get you some connections.
  9. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    My father is a career FSO, so I know a little bit about the job. First of all you have nothing to lose by taking the exam. Previous scores don't affect anything, so you can take it every year and not have to worry about affecting future chances. I've never taken it, but it's supposed to be a bizatch. The first day is a written exam, and if you pass that they do a bunch of oral examination/scenario type things to see how you act in real life situations. It is very competitive, so don't be surprised or disappointed if you don't make it. They only accept 40 or 50 new FSO's a year, and the average FSO speaks a couple languages and has two or three degrees.

    Pay isn't great, but job security is real good and you get tons of benefits. Health insurance, good pension plan, and when living overseas housing is paid for, you are compensated for cost of living, and earn extra if you are at a hardship post.

    One of the downsides is you don't know where you might be assigned. My father has lucked out and always gotten the assignment he wanted. He did his first tour in Hong Kong as a junior officer and since then has done all of his tours in Japan. But I have known other FSO's that did hardship post after hardship post. I'm not exactly sure how it works, but I believe your performance and what others think of you has a good bit to do with where you get assigned.

    As far as having a family, most FSO's I have met have been happily married with children.

    If you want I could put you in touch with my dad. I'm sure he wouldn't mind sharing his experiences in the Foreign Service with a potential colleague.
  10. temp5897

    temp5897 Guest

    Are you concerned about the amount of money you make? My girlfriend works with "stock researcher's" as you put it (they refer to them as analyst's) and they make gobs of money. Pretty good job security too because of their clientele. But, I am guessing you already know this...just curious how important the money is to you.
  11. The money isn't all that important to me. Anyhow, I plan to work as a stock researcher for a few years anyway and I might well get an MBA or a PhD somewhere along the line.

    40 or 50...wow. How does that break down along the 5 department lines (management/economic/political/don't remember the other two)? I'd be going for the economic track.

    Ham, I think I might want to get in touch with your dad.
  12. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Chomskybots... Randroids... Heh. I suppose the country could use an equal-opportunity smartass with a flair for thematic metaphor -- go for it! :D ;)
  13. I worked in the British 'foreign service' for 9 years, on the cultural side. I met a lot of US diplomats, and was mostly very impressed with their competence and professionalism.

    It's a career job...everything is career. It can be so focussed that it gets petty. You tend to get categorised as an '-ist' - an arabist, europeanist, Israelist, China-ist or whatever.

    The political side is the most fun, and correspondingly the hardest to break into.

    Make sure you have a back-up plan, another trade. Nothing more useless than an ex-diplomat.

    Many people chuck the career in when their kids get to high school age as it is TOUGH bringing up kids in the weird, incestuous expat environment.

    If you go for it, spend time in the first few years really thinking about the life choices senior diplomats you meet have made, and if you don't think those are for you, throw in the towel before it's too late.
  14. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    You have a PM.

    As far as the departmental breakdown, I have no idea. I'm not sure if you get selected as an econ, political, etc or if that's decided afterwards. The other ones are Consular and Public Affairs, and "management" is usually called Admin.
  15. Thanks...I have a feeling that it'll be a while before I start on it, since I'm probably gonna end up taking two years off to be a missionary anyway.

    I'll probably sign up for the exam this April anyway.
  16. rustyshakelford


    Jul 9, 2002
    Hello, Peter.

    Have you applied to any Fed branches? They do some interesting work, although I am not sure it carries over to the commercial side. It would get you into grad school.

    Any comments on John Snow on Charlie Rose last night? Perhaps to keep it apolitical, you can do 1-10
    1 unimpressed
    10 impressed

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Staff Member Supporting Member


    I am very happy for you that will be a very rewarding lifestyle and your reward in heaven will be great. I will pray for you whille you minister to the suffering. :)