US Department of State

  www.state.gov
  www.state.gov

US Department of State Reviews

Updated 14 November 2014
Updated 14 November 2014
367 Reviews
3.9
367 Reviews
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US Department of State Secretary of State John Kerry
John Kerry
103 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • See the world while serving your country (in 14 reviews)

  • If you work for the Foreign Service, you get to see the world in so many meaningful ways (in 28 reviews)


Cons
  • The biggest turn off for me were actually the foreign service officers (in 31 reviews)

  • This can dramatically impact work-life balance for years at a time (in 10 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Great Experience

    Former Employee - Intern in Washington, DC (US)
    Former Employee - Intern in Washington, DC (US)

    I worked at US Department of State full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    I worked in an office within the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. It was fast paced and always interesting. If you are considering a career in the Foreign Service, this is a great way to find out if the work if for you.

    Cons

    You work for free for long hours. It is expensive to live in D.C. The bureaucracy of the State Department can get really frustrating.

  2.  

    Rewarding, mostly, despite the bureaucracy

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State

    Pros

    Making a significant contribution; helping people
    Good pay and benefits
    Variety of challenges, varied activities within any given workday
    Get to work with intelligent good-hearted people

    Cons

    The bureaucracy. Can be frustrating, slow, and offer little room for creativity
    Poor managers: while subject matter expertise is important, these people often do not make the best managers nor do they seem to like the role
    Being dependent on an annual budget from Congress, which is always late, makes it hard to plan.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Take morale problems seriously and take steps to address them

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO
  3.  

    Fulfilling work, great coworkers, see the world

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer
    Current Employee - Foreign Service Officer

    I have been working at US Department of State full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    I've enjoyed my first two experiences with the Foreign Service. If you come in on the track that is the best fit for you (in my case, Political) you should enjoy it. The bureaucracy actually takes care of you pretty well, contrary to what many assume of the federal government. The work is varied and sometimes exciting. If you're talented and work hard, you can do good things for your country. If you're up for living abroad most of your life -- away from your family, core friends, and support network -- you'll have some amazing experiences. Pay and benefits are good - a big step up from my non-profit past. I also have a lot more autonomy than I had in the non-profit world; as a Foreign Service Officer you are rather empowered to do what's best for your country.

    Cons

    Unfortunately State has been overshadowed or muscled out more often than it should be other, better-funded agencies of the government (Defense, etc.) I've had some bosses who stand up for State's rightful territory but others who have not. Also, you REALLY have to be dedicated to government service and living overseas for years at a time, in places that may not be your first choice. If not, don't sign up.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5.  

    Internal Audit Manager, Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (part-time contract)

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Internal Audit Manager in Arlington, VA (US)
    Former Employee - Internal Audit Manager in Arlington, VA (US)

    I worked at US Department of State part-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Great colleagues, interesting work with extensive overseas travel

    Cons

    bureaucratic, a contract job with no advancement opportunities, but ideal for a retiree. Must have foreign service and audit or financial management experience to qualify

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6.  

    Amazing Professional Experience but Bureaucratic and Averse to Technology

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State as a contractor (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    The professional experiences they can offer are unparalleled. I would repeat my decision to serve with State if I could go back in time and tell myself what I now know. However, I realized I am not a good cultural fit for a long-term career and have moved on. My advice to others is to keep in mind the decision to serve with State is a professional calling and not a job choice.

    Cons

    This is not a con but a question of fit. I read a research paper from the late 1990's stating that 47% of State Department personnel are rated as an INTJ on the Myers Brigg test. For reference less than 1% of the general population are INTJs. You should look up how your Meyers Brigg profile interacts with the INTJ profile to see if it is a good cultural fit for you. I had a military background and it was a big transition for me to adjust to the State way of thinking. Some of my State colleagues who came from corporate America also told me they had challenges adapting to a completely different organizational mindset.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Lead an organizational culture change for State personnel to use more technology. Many people at State resist adopting new technologies. Some even wear their inabilities with technology as a badge of honor. This mindset needs to change. For example, when I worked at State I was frustrated with many FSOs who had impressive degrees from elite institutions but complained MS SharePoint was too hard to use. Their resistance to using SharePoint degraded the abilities of our team to collaborate and perform. I couldn't figure out why these very smart people couldn't figure out SharePoint when personnel in the military who had an average performance in high school had no problems learning and using SharePoint.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7.  

    Intern at Foreign Post

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Highly positive internship experience -- depends on diplomatic mission, but there are ample opportunities for gaining substantive professional experience.

    Cons

    Unpaid, but can seek out scholarship funding

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  8.  

    Solid employer

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Department of State

    Pros

    Strong mission driven community. Job structure ensures there is a diversity of tasks. The people you work with tend to be the best of the best and everyone cares about the same goals.

    Cons

    Because of the job structure, there is frequent turnover within the team. Projects and strategic vision is often lost in the shuffle. Would be difficult to enjoy if you don't buy into the Department's culture.

  9.  

    Good Summer Internship

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Intern in Edinburgh, Scotland (UK)
    Current Employee - Intern in Edinburgh, Scotland (UK)

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

    Pros

    Ability to work on a diverse array of interesting projects and interact with high level government officials in the country to which you are posted.

    Cons

    There is a lot of bureaucracy within the State Department and this can be see in there slow adoption of technology. Some of the technology systems are built in house and are flat out terrible to work with.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10.  

    Summer Intern - Undergraduate student

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Intern in New York, NY (US)
    Former Employee - Intern in New York, NY (US)

    I worked at US Department of State as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Fantastic internship, learned so much about how a government agency works and had the opportunity to network with a lot of higher-ups in government. I'm sure this will open many doors for me in the future.

    Cons

    Little direction, at times there wasn't much to do in the internship. Wish there was a solid project lasting the entire 10 weeks to keep busy.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    More direction with interns.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  11.  

    Mostly positive

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Deputy Director in Washington, DC (US)
    Current Employee - Deputy Director in Washington, DC (US)

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

    Pros

    Advancing U.S. foreign policy priorities; implementing international arms control treaties

    Cons

    24/7/365 operation where individual employees matter; during contingencies the Center is always at risk of not having enough employees to do the job

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Severe lack of leadership at all levels in the AVC Bureau

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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