State Dept Wants You to Join the Foreign Service — Start Now So You’re on Board on/about 2015

The 12:35 minute video features Secretary Clinton, US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney, US Ambassador to Haiti Pamela White, a management analyst from the Foreign Service Institute giving a tour of the pretend jail at FSI, and several officers who may or may not be entry level officers on their first or second tours.

The video above came with a 1:16 minute trailer and the following media note:

As part of an effort to continue to attract smart, dynamic, capable people into the Foreign Service, the Department of State is releasing a new one-minute trailer and an accompanying short video that showcases the faces and stories of the amazing men and women who have helped make the world a better place through a career in the Foreign Service.

The video is meant to inspire and promote participation in American diplomacy through joining the Foreign Service. Through compelling stories and powerful imagery, the film aims to educate and engage Americans on the incredible career opportunities available in the Foreign Service.

As Secretary Clinton says, “The challenges of the 21st century offer something for everyone in the Foreign Service and they also demand a wide range of skills and experience…we need you now.”

The Foreign Service represents the United States around the world and provides the opportunity to experience cultures, customs and people of different nations in a career truly unlike any other. In this constantly changing world, we want to continue to recruit adaptable, resourceful, intelligent, and innovative strategic-thinkers, from diverse educational, geographic and cultural backgrounds.

If that sounds like what you’re looking for – sign up now at

The video is meant to inspire, as they say, so it does not mention the timeline on the hiring process (still about two years) or the challenges for dual-income families reduced to one when the accompanying spouse is unable to find work overseas.   It’s a recruitment video, so that’s understandable. But perhaps the most glaring omission of all — out of about a dozen officers featured in this video, did you see anyone shown working in the danger zones of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan?  Other than that, the video is a nice showcase.

To help the film educate Americans, below are some related posts from former FSO now Gadling columnist, Dave Seminara. Do not/not skip the “How To Avoid Posts Where You Might Get Eaten Alive.” That seems important.

Here is also a must-read piece by retired FSO Peter Van Buren who underwent quite a bit of beard shaving and shunning in the aftermath of the publication of his book, We Meant Well:

And just to be clear — Papua New Guinea now only has one tribe, the Korowai (numbering about 3,000) reported to practice ritual cannibalism.  They do not/not live anywhere near the US Embassy compound in Port Moresby. So that should make you feel better….

In any case, we are not in the business to encourage or discourage anyone from joining the Foreign Service. What we will say is that the Foreign Service is not for everyone.  You can have the best times of your lives, you can have the worst times of your lives.  Not one or the other at all times.  So if you join, make sure you got a Plan B … because stuff happens.

One of the saddest people we’ve encountered is a mid-level employee with kids, a mortgage, and nowhere to go but stay put even when the FS has lost its sparkle.  As Yoda would probably say in a galaxy far, far away – having more than one option, success is.  Good luck!

domani spero sig



5 responses

  1. I can’t be the only one who felt embarassed during that movie at the “hardships” that these FSOs were complaining about. Are we trying to bring back the pin-stripped cookie pusher motif? “Oh, it’s so hard to get good coffee, I need good coffee” — obsessing over coffee (for those not in the military) got stale with Seinfeld. I’m at a high differential AF post in which our junior officers are doing things like working with rehabilitated sex workers to help them become serial entrepreneurs; monitoring religious freedom issues, helping mediate disputes between the government and a former rebel group now seeking to become involved with politics; adoption fraud; etc. You know, things that might be enticing programmatically to a future FSO. Those things are definitely going on in Haiti as well — why didn’t any of those programs get featured? Why didn’t any management work get featured? Or work in the functional bureaus? It’s depressing.

    • Sorry, swatjester, don’t have answers for you but probably because AF posts are some of the most underbid positions. That may have something to do with that but don’t know for sure. Two of those featured here, Amb White and a PD officer are both Haiti-based.

  2. The video makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, but if it’s a recruiting video for generalists, then consular officers get short shrift and management officers aren’t mentioned at all…

    • It comes across as if a new diplomat jumps into policy work and goes on to, like the video title says, “changing the world.” The fact that in the real world, entry level officers typically spends the first and/or second tour doing consular work or that FSOs will spend a tour or more in unaccompanied assignments are glossed over. Consular and management not sexy enough?