Job Title: U.S. Diplomat - Foreign Service Officer
Education: BA in Politics and Economics, University of California at Santa Cruz Graduate study in economics, Foreign Service Institute Language study, Foreign Service Institute
Previous Experience: I worked for a local California school district on an outreach plan for PL 94-142, Equal Access to Education law passed in 1977. At the same time, I did volunteer work at the local State Assemblyman's office and on his congressional campaign. When he was elected to Congress, I went with him to Washington and worked on Capitol Hill for three years as a legislative aid.
Job Tasks: Foreign Service officers work for the US Department of State. They are responsible for explaining US policy to other governments, for helping American Citizens living or traveling abroad, for issuing visas to people who want to visit or work in the US, and for helping American companies who want to sell or invest in other countries. The jobs are as varied as the countries in which we serve. As an economist, I have spent most of my career helping American companies and reporting on economic events. For example, if a company in Guatemala is making and selling fake Levis, we might work with local police to arrest the sellers and with the government of Guatemala to write and enforce better laws against theft of intellectual property. Or if the Russian stock market crashes, an officer in Hungary might send a report to the Secretary of State giving an assessment of what might happen to the economies of Central Europe as a result. Or we might meet with officials in the British Foreign Ministry to discuss US/UK views on how to encourage investment in newly independent Russian states.
Travel is an important part of a Foreign Service Officer's life. You have to be what we call "worldwide available," that is, ready to live and work in any country in the world where you might be needed. Assignments to any given country or to Washington are usually from two to three years, but in a more difficult environment the tour of duty may be only one year.
One of the most important jobs the State Department has right now is supporting the establishment of democracy in Iraq. Embassy Baghdad is our largest embassy. Dedicated Foreign Service Officers have been supporting our mission there, working with the Iraqi government, for over five years.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is living in foreign countries, learning languages, learning about foreign cultures. It's also nice to change jobs; you're always employed, but you get to do different types of things so you don't feel stale.
The worst part of the job is living in foreign countries. We often feel separated from our families, unable to help with things like caring for aging parents or missing special events like a nephew's graduation.
1. The Foreign Service application is a test with written and oral components. The best way to prepare for the test is to read the NY Times for a year. Read the whole thing, including all the arts and sports sections.
2. You don't have to major in any particular field and you don't have to know languages in advance, but you do get special credit for certain languages if you have them -- Arabic and Chinese for example. Check the State Department's web site for a list of incentive languages.
Additional Thoughts: We like to say that the Foreign Service should look like America in order to better represent America abroad. We want people from many types of background to consider joining.
These schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles).
Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.
Change the World with American University
Be a part of something bigger than yourself.
Liberty University provides a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation, equipping men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for success in every aspect of life.
Colorado State University-Global Campus
Colorado State University-Global Campus (CSU-Global) recently received state approval to enroll students with little to no prior college experience. To help ensure student success, the university has created a program especially for these students who plan on starting their college experience for the first time with us.
Saint Xavier University, Chicago’s oldest Catholic university, has a long history of educating students to prepare them for professional success and lay the foundation for personal fulfillment.
Since 1901, Golden Gate University (GGU) has been helping adults achieve their professional goals by providing education in accounting, law, taxation, and business-related areas.
Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School has brought the philosophy of business with humanity in mind to a part time format.
The goal of earning a master’s degree should be defined by you, not by your circumstances. No matter which path you’ve chosen, a graduate degree can help you advance with your current organization, explore opportunities with a new company, or even start fresh in a new industry. When you earn your master's degree, you’re opening new opportunities for career development that can make a difference for you and your family. Through flexible class scheduling, dedicated career advisors and quality programs, NAU strives to provide a caring and supportive learning environment to ensure your success as a student.
Try Your Introductory Course Risk Free
Turn your talents into a career at nationally recognized and accredited Platt College.
The inside stories from people actually working in the field.
Click a story title to show the story, and click the title again to hide it.
Career Stories are concise, real-world career overviews written by people relating their personal career experiences and wisdom. They provide invaluable insights and mentoring advice to students and career changers.
Most stories include:
Please also see our detailed information about Economists, including: