Insider Quote: Specialist and Generalist

A Wide Receiver catching a ball.Image via Wikipedia

When it comes to distinguishing between the Foreign Service career paths, many officers still give me a blank stare when I mention I’m a specialist and not a generalist. I get the impression that once someone is in a-100 class (generalist’s orientation) they never hear about the specialist path. […] I understand American’s coming from other agencies serving a tour as an FSO not picking up on it. Everything in the department of state is new to them. I’m talking about regular FSOs that have already worked for several tours. I explain to them the differences in pay, job responsibilities, usually no language training, etc. Invariably, I get asked by post to fill in for officers even though I’ve never received any generalist training in that regard. I’ve been a backup for management officers but that usually the norm for an IT person, since we work under that section and learn about it anyway. But my current post has brought up other back-fill positions that I really have no right to do at the expense of my own responsibilities. I’m all about working as a team, but that’s like putting a running back into a wide receiver position. You better plan on seeing a few balls get dropped.

Specialist and Generalist
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