U.S. Department of State
Happiness rating is 75 out of 100
4.2 out of 5 stars.
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Working at U.S. Department of State: 1,106 U.S. Department of State Reviews

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  • Clear sense of purpose

Great Way to Serve

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Completely enjoy serving my country and being a mentor to young men and women who are also seeking to serve their country. Work days are filled with rewarding challenges; opportunity to break paradigms and institute new processes using new technologies. The DoS has a culture of commitment to teamwork and positively representing America to the world. The most difficult part of the job is ensuring products get to the end user in minimal time. The most enjoyable part is working with other and exceeding customer's expectations.
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Caring place to work, could be more efficient

Very pleased to be a part of the State Department mission. Great benefits, pleasant working environment and people, opportunities for advancement. No regrets.

Pros

nice working environment, smart people, job security, benefits

Cons

Uncoordinated efforts, there are lots of things to slow you down that are out of your control
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Interesting assignments with leadership of varied quality.

Working as a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State has may ups and downs. I enjoy the job after about 11 years and assignments in 5 countries. Some of my assignments have been in places you'd likely want to visit as a tourist, some have been in places you would only go if ordered.Your priorities can change a lot whenever a new President is elected, so you have to be able to accept such changes and may end up promoting policies with which you disagree.Changing locations every 1-3 years can be both a pro and a con. On the pro side, you do not stagnate in a single role and are always learning how to operate in new environments. On the con side, it can seem that you have to leave just when you are really developing the subject matter expertise and local connections needed to excel in your role.The organization is currently making a big push to improve Diversity and Inclusion in hiring, assignment selection, and promotion processes. It will likely be a few years before we see if any of this makes any positive difference. In the past, distribution of prestigious assignments has been given based on one's reputation with and connections in a controlling Bureau. Critics say that this basically creates impenetrable "old boys' networks" that can serve as unfair barriers to entry.Promotions have slowed in recent years. Although you are eligible to be considered for a promotion after 3 years at a given rank, in reality promotions are taking much longer. The Foreign Service was once considered to have rather fast promotions, but with current timelines a motivated - 

Pros

International Travel, Overseas Living, Interesting and motivated colleagues.

Cons

Politically appointed leadership, Distance from family and friends
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I was a Foreign Service Officer for 28 years. An FSO career can be personally rewarding, but it is a challenging position and not for everyone.

I wouldn't give up my 28 years at State for anything, but I would not recommend the job for everyone. The constant moves every 2-3 years alone are a huge strain on a family, let alone the potential for hardship or separated assignments. But you do get to do some of the most important work in the world in places most people never imagine visiting.

Pros

Chance to serve your country and advance important causes like peace, security, economic development, freedom, and so forth.

Cons

Antiquated personnel system; increasingly politicized work environment
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Mission---Conducting international dialogue to increase mutual empathy and stave off violence and suffering in all spheres of life.

Diplomacy is the essential glue melding the policy and on the ground efforts of a government's executive, military, economic and political issue focused efforts internationally through contact and communication.The Department in both civil and foreign service tracks offers many opportunities in a variety of issue and geographic areas as well as the communications and management structure to support these endeavors across the board.Visit careers.state.gov!

Pros

Fulfilling work vital to national security for those that want to work across borders, whether sovereign, cultural, economic, political or social. Good pay and benefits.

Cons

It's a bureaucracy....a structure with inherent pros and cons.
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Great growth opportunities

Lots of great opportunities for growth and development. Good benefits but a bit bureaucratic at times. Lots of travel opportunities and chances to learn about new cultures.
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Productive in the foreign policy space; a culture in transition to better valuing all of its employees talents and contributions

depending on role and supervisor, working here can be satisfying. working in foreign policy arena and representing the U.S. overseas for America's oldest Cabinet department is an honor and can be satisfying. there is more than enough operational and policy work to go around, but workloads are often unbalanced. while some supervisors are exceptional (including my past two), many poor performers are not held accountable by their supervisors or the central talent management system. in some offices, certain employees get a pass on bullying behavior due to cumbersome HR systems.
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The culture and management

is going to be different at every post in the world. At one post, you may have people who are amazing professionals that care about their team, and the work being done. But then at other posts, or even when normal rotations happen you could get stuck with someone who is the polar opposite. The State Department pays well and has incredible benefits, especially for families, but the workplace can be toxic. Not to mention the policymakers in Washington DC that impact your day-to-day work. This job has a lot of pros and can feel like the most important job in the world, but sometimes the management and culture as just so toxic that you want to leave.

Pros

Benefits, world travel

Cons

Toxic leaders
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Busy and Constructive

I feel like we go above and beyond the call of duty to assist employees with concerns thru policy. At times it seems repetitive but as the times change we hard to keep up the changes.

Pros

Flexibility

Cons

Other employee/Management stresses become yours
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Excellent place to work

Great job culture with excellent benefits and job security. I enjoyed my time working at the State Department. Interesting colleagues, and a lot training opportunities for you to advance around within the agency.
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Colleagues, top management team and immediate boss

Very receptive to listen to employee's opinions. Team oriented. Ready to take time to teach you and provide necessary equipment and training to support you. Encouragement in advancing your advance.
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An amazing life

Most applicants are highly qualified, so getting into the Foreign Service involves some luck. If you are selected, you can look forward to a career with a great variety of work and location. Living and working around the world (and being paid pretty well to do it) really is an honor and a privilege. You'll get to see and do a lot of things most people never do. Best suited are those who are patriotic, enjoy learning new cultures and languages, and feel passionate about some political or social cause.

Pros

Great benefits, free housing when overseas, variety

Cons

DC assignments can be a grind and you may sometimes feel like a cog, moving every few years can take its toll.
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satisfying

I enjoy my career at State. Very interesting colleagues and experiences. The ability to travel is a huge plus. I have seen so much of the world I would not see otherwise.
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It's the Government, Brother

A precious few hires at the State Department actually become diplomats and do good work. For most, however, being hired is an entrée to a government job. Supervisors spend an inordinate amount of time trying to dream up problems that they can pretend to solve, thus putting themselves in line for their next post. I enjoyed living and traveling abroad. The accommodations and benefits were fine. But the management was self-serving and arbitrary, and the work itself was largely mundane.

Pros

Foreign postings

Cons

Political environment
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Great place to work

The people are great and very helpful with my new job. The mission will change or a regular basis, but you are very well informed about the day to day operations.

Pros

Travel and pay

Cons

Fast pace.
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Multicultural experience

I really enjoyed working for DOS, jobs available at all levels, mixture of different cultures, learning and development opportunities. Pay is not the best but you get the experience

Pros

Learning opportunities

Cons

Not best pay
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It's okay

Very monotonous work. You have to be okay doing the same thing all day everyday. Production-based environment. If you stamp the right amount of applications, they'll mostly leave you alone. A lot of people are content to collect a decent paycheck and do the bare minimum, which means you'll have to pick up the slack if you actually care about the work. Supervisors are a mixed bag; some really competent and compassionate, some retired in place.

Pros

Flexible work schedule, you know exactly what's expected of you, impossible to get fired

Cons

Repetitive, little chance for career growth
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Lots of opportunities to learn and grow.

Lots of opportunities to learn and grow. With new jobs every few years, you have the chance to learn about new cultures/explore new directions in terms of work focus.
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Don't try to fix the corruption

There is a very strong "Old Boy" network. If you are above someone, you can treat them however you want, and no one wants to acknowledge wrongdoing, believing it will reflect badly on them. Retaliation is also common.

Pros

Overseas travel, lots of time off.

Cons

Looking out for only yourself is rewarded.
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Its government

It was ok, liked where I worked at and the people I worked with. There were lots of clicks and some people were resistance to change but not a bad place to work overall

Pros

Work was fun

Cons

Office politics
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Great Place To Work

Having retired as a Foreign Service Officer, I can highly recommend the Department of State. Promotions are slow, but the benefits and travel opportunities are optimal.

Pros

Pension
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Overall rating

4.2

Based on 1,453 reviews

Ratings by category

4.0
Work/Life Balance
4.1
Compensation/Benefits
3.8
Job Security/Advancement
3.8
Management
3.9
Culture

Ratings from women

3.1
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3.2Personal Development
3.1Career Opportunities
3.1Family Support
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