Employee Experiences

U.S. Department of State employees, with their skills, character and commitment to public service, are the backbone of America’s diplomacy. They represent the American people, advocate U.S. interests to the rest of the world and are America’s first line of defense in a complex and often dangerous world.

Browse employee stories below and learn about their professional and personal journeys while working with the Department of State. Click on a thumbnail of interest for more information.

Foreign Service Careers

Life in the Foreign Service
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"The Foreign Service is not just a job and it’s not just a career, it’s a lifestyle. Your entire life changes."

Life in the Foreign Service

5795 Views

Foreign Service Officers

Patrick

"We cannot advocate for the United States, we cannot advocate for our values, unless we have embassies and consulates and interest sections and liaison offices and missions around the world.

But to get those offices to function, they need a management cadre to underpin them.

And I think that, that is an incredibly honorable profession. It's one that I've been very, very proud to be a part of."

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U.S. Diplomat, Under Secretary of State for Management
"I help support U.S. embassies."

Patrick

U.S. Diplomat, Under Secretary of State for Management

1690 Views
Joseph

"I’ve always told people interested in what we do that there are there's one key work in what we do and it's service. I don't care if it's the Foreign Service for those who have a vocation to serve abroad or it's the Civil Service. I think people working for State have a distinct ethos and it comes across."

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Retired Foreign Service Officer, Provincial Reconstruction Team
"I help protect Americans in Afghanistan."

Joseph

Retired Foreign Service Officer, Provincial Reconstruction Team

2407 Views
Janice

"The decisions that consular officers make really touch people in a very real and personal way. We are often the window on America at our overseas posts because the vast majority of people coming to an embassy or consulate are actually coming for a consular service, and so what we do is very important, but how we treat people that come in for our services, of course, is also very important."

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U.S. Diplomat, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs
"I provide a window on America."

Janice

U.S. Diplomat, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs

2841 Views
Jayne

"To me there's something unique about consular work. There is no other government in the world that takes care of its citizens the way America does — so, I feel pretty privileged to be an American consular officer."

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U.S. Diplomat, Consular Career Track
"I help Americans overseas."

Jayne

U.S. Diplomat, Consular Career Track

4157 Views
Sandy

"I was a lawyer by training and I did child abuse and neglect cases. And that was part of the reason why when I joined the Foreign Service, I learned about the Office of Children's Issues, and really wanted to work there. I thought this was something I'd like to do and would be good at. It turned out to be true."

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U.S. Diplomat, Consular Career Track
"I help protect children."

Sandy

U.S. Diplomat, Consular Career Track

5003 Views
Terry

"I selected consular work because I really like working with people and I found particularly the American Citizens Services portion of that work to be particularly fascinating. And I’m glad I selected that track because, working overseas, I believe the most rewarding work that any Foreign Service Officer has is assisting Americans overseas."

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U.S. Diplomat, Consular Career Track
"I help Americans overseas."

Terry

U.S. Diplomat, Consular Career Track

4285 Views
Alan

"There is no such thing as a slow day and the work itself is fascinating. There is no component of international relations that doesn't depend on the State Department. So there's a weighty responsibility there. You are, for all intents and purposes, America, to them."

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U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track
"I have my dream job."

Alan

U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track

2965 Views
Clark

"If you're intrigued by foreign cultures, if you find that when you travel you really get a kick out of it, and you're kind of the type who likes to go in the back alleys and see what people are really doing beyond the tourist resorts, look at the Foreign Service because that's kind of what we do."

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U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track
"I'm an advocate for the United States and for our diplomatic values."

Clark

U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track

2347 Views
Darren

"Coming from the private sector background where I was dealing with all of those issues and trying to understand them, it was really intriguing to me to move from understanding them to helping to impact them and improve them and working for U.S. interests."

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U.S. Diplomat, Economic career track
"I help increase security through economic prosperity."

Darren

U.S. Diplomat, Economic career track

3067 Views
Heidi

"I certainly do my best to represent the United States overseas, to empower people so that they themselves begin to demand more from their political leadership. What you are able to draw from this experience is so rewarding, it really does enrich you as a person."

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U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track
"I help to empower people."

Heidi

U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track

3518 Views
Miriam

“The experience has been incredible. I’ve learned so much about how to brief, how to alert, how to understand information. It’s been fascinating to see what our response is, how our interagency process works, how we work with the Defense Department, how we work with the White House.”

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U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track
“I am passionate about the environment and green energy.”

Miriam

U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track

3152 Views
Todd

“You can have a huge impact on advancing U.S. foreign policy goals, and international security goals from within the economic track.  It's not a career that you have to have a specialized education for, or a special interest in foreign cultures or something. You need to have a desire to serve your country.”

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U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track
"I have an impact on U.S. foreign policy."

Todd

U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track

2004 Views
Tom

“I've always wanted to join the Foreign Service because you're away from the norms and the values that you're accustomed to. You learn to try to adapt to the environment that you're in, while retaining who you are at the core and advocating for the United States.”

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U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track
"I’m an advocate for my country."

Tom

U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track

2005 Views
Tony

“Working as a U.S. Diplomat means that I get to use my leadership and analytical skills to tackle new challenges and exciting opportunities every day. I’ve even used my communication skills in negotiations between foreign governments and U.S. oil companies, preserving opportunities for American businesses.”

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U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track
“I am an advocate of sound economic policy.”

Tony

U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track

1247 Views
Victor

"And one of the great things about the economic track is that you’re in a position to be the eyes and ears of the government and help to explain the crises that are unfolding. If you get it right, if you can diagnose the problem correctly, then you can lead to some good solutions."

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U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track
"I help keep decision-makers informed."

Victor

U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track

3345 Views
James

"I think of the livelihoods of the people who work back in America, the people that I grew up with, the people that I serve as a public servant. And what I do overseas makes it so that they have a better economic future and their children and my children have better economic future."

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U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track
"I impact jobs in the United States."

James

U.S. Diplomat, Economic Career Track

2113 Views
Alaina

“There are crises of all kinds that come along, and you really have to be prepared to act. And I think that's the key — is being able to act outside of the box. Knowing how to apply your knowledge, your authority, your resources to a problem and solving it.”

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U.S. Diplomat, Management Career Track
"I act outside of the box."

Alaina

U.S. Diplomat, Management Career Track

3515 Views
Cherie

"I went into the middle of what seemed to be thousands of people with cameras clicking, tape recorders whirring, people with pen and pencils, just flying, and a million questions at the same time. And I just thought, okay, this is a situation where I can really make or break, and I thought this is where being a Foreign Service officer really makes such a difference, and that you can be cast into situations where you never would have expected to be in the middle of."

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U.S. Diplomat, Management Career Track
"I assisted in the response to 9/11."

Cherie

U.S. Diplomat, Management Career Track

1669 Views
Danny

“I think a lot of times, people sit on the sidelines and are frustrated with the way the world is going or the directions we’re going as a country or the different policies we have, and this career gives you the ability to make a real difference, and you can touch people’s lives.”

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U.S. Diplomat, Management Career Track
"I have a passion for culture."

Danny

U.S. Diplomat, Management Career Track

2900 Views
Ed

“I went up to see the king. Now I was forbidden to touch him, so I didn't shake hands or anything, but I made a little speech. ‘I'm proud to be here on behalf of the United States government, and return this important and sacred object to you.’”

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U.S. Diplomat, Management Career Track
"I was made an “ambassador” to the Kingdom of Kom."

Ed

U.S. Diplomat, Management Career Track

2259 Views
Kaara

“One of the best things I like about management work is, we are the platform. Nothing happens on the policy side unless management officers get the buildings out there, hire the people, make sure you get the right people for the ambassador, make sure that you're getting everyone paid and that you're getting them paid as well as they can be paid.”

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U.S. Diplomat, Management Career Track
"I help construct the platform for diplomacy."

Kaara

U.S. Diplomat, Management Career Track

2568 Views
Mike

"Our job was essentially to reengineer this airport to make it an evacuation center to marshal the volunteers from the embassy to do everything from making sandwiches to donating diapers. And our job was to get these people, many of whom had been traumatized; we had rape victims, people who had suffered horrible violence looking to us to be their sort of conduit to safety."

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U.S. Diplomat, Management Career Track
"Management work is about people."

Mike

U.S. Diplomat, Management Career Track

2235 Views
Richard

"We're the face of America to the world. We value differences. We value different cultures. We want to show how our diversity is our strength. You can't help but feel pride for what you do. I can't wait until I have grandkids and tell them stories about what I used to do."

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U.S. Diplomat, Management Career Track
"I have pride in my work."

Richard

U.S. Diplomat, Management Career Track

2383 Views
Wayne

"I think that, you know, the skills that you acquire in a lot of other fields are relevant to what we do in management. I come from a pretty diverse background. I was in the Marine Corps. I was in Sales & Marketing both for soft drinks and wine beverages, and every day I feel as if I'm selling somebody something."

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U.S. Diplomat, Management Career Track
"I can’t imagine doing anything that matters more."

Wayne

U.S. Diplomat, Management Career Track

2206 Views
Francisco

"It's a team effort, whether in the operations center or an embassy. Everyone, from all of the career tracks, has a critical role that they play in the conduct of diplomacy."

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U.S. Diplomat, Political Career Track
"I’m part of a team."

Francisco

U.S. Diplomat, Political Career Track

3118 Views
Linissa

“So often when you're in the United States you see the world from one view. But when you go overseas you see it in a whole different perspective, and so you have a more complete view of how the world really is.”

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U.S. Diplomat, Political Career Track
"I see the world differently."

Linissa

U.S. Diplomat, Political Career Track

4243 Views
Manu

“I think part of our job is to understand the local psyche, the local thought processes, understand the nuances that are embedded in the culture and in the language. You really have to, to some extent, throw yourself in it. But you have to find that happy balance between understanding the local culture and promoting U.S. views as well.”

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U.S. Diplomat, Political Career Track
"I promote U.S. interests overseas."

Manu

U.S. Diplomat, Political Career Track

2609 Views
Mariju

“I’ve learned that whether you are a Political officer or a Consular officer, a Foreign Service Generalist has to be prepared to do anything necessary. One thing is for sure—it’s always an adventure!”

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U.S. Diplomat, Political Career Track
“I am passionate about public service.”

Mariju

U.S. Diplomat, Political Career Track

2530 Views
Navarro

“So I spent my summer working at our Embassy in Suva, Fiji, my first time outside of the United States. It honestly changed my life because, after that experience, I decided I wanted to be a Foreign Service Officer.”

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U.S. Diplomat, Political Career Track
"I am serving my country."

Navarro

U.S. Diplomat, Political Career Track

2818 Views
Ricardo

“The internship program is probably one of the best programs that the Department of State has. It offers students a way to get a view of a bureau or embassy and to see what the work is really about.”

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U.S. Diplomat, Political Career Track
"I’m a former Department of State Intern."

Ricardo

U.S. Diplomat, Political Career Track

1650 Views
Uzra

“I think working for the State Department is something for people who are looking to have a direct impact and I think one of the greatest things we do as State Department employees, no matter what your track or position is, is representing the United States and what we stand for and making connections — with people all over the world.”

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U.S. Diplomat, Political Career Track
"I help forge connections."

Uzra

U.S. Diplomat, Political Career Track

1627 Views
Andrew

"When I go abroad meeting people from other cultures as they form their ideas of what an American is like, I’m representing my mother, my father, my high school friends, the people I went to college with…I’m there making sure that they’re well-represented in whatever country I’m in."

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U.S. Diplomat, Public Diplomacy Career Track
"I’m a representative for everyone I know at home."

Andrew

U.S. Diplomat, Public Diplomacy Career Track

2466 Views
Daniel

"You really are the representative of much more than yourself – and how you carry yourself and how you conduct your business often means more than just for that immediate situation. It means everything from how our relationship with a country will be, to maybe even the future of our foreign policy."

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U.S. Diplomat, Public Diplomacy Career Track
I represent my country.

Daniel

U.S. Diplomat, Public Diplomacy Career Track

1983 Views
Marjorie

“I am passionate about sharing U.S. values and culture through exchange programs and other artistic and cultural programs abroad. Despite my disability I have been able to open a world of opportunities for foreign students to study in the United States.”

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U.S. Diplomat, Public Diplomacy Career Track
"I am passionate about sharing U.S. values and culture."

Marjorie

U.S. Diplomat, Public Diplomacy Career Track

2775 Views
Tania

"I've picked up skills about how to present a complex policy, how to study a language in a very specialized way, and how to manage the people who will help me do my job. Openness to culture, both the State Department's culture and a foreign culture, really set you off on a great foot when you come into the Foreign Service."

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U.S. Diplomat, Public Diplomacy Career Track
"I gain skills every day."

Tania

U.S. Diplomat, Public Diplomacy Career Track

1651 Views
Michelle and Mary

"Mary let her career development officer know that I was going to be starting A-100, which is the orientation class, immediately prior to me joining the service. And they assigned us to serve together in Jerusalem. And in fact, even before it became policy to work to try to keep us together the way they keep together married opposite sex couples the department has been very good to us in terms of working to keep us together and having us serve together."

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U.S. Diplomats, Public Diplomacy Career Track, Political Career Track
"I advocate for America."

Michelle and Mary

U.S. Diplomats, Public Diplomacy Career Track, Political Career Track

2651 Views

Foreign Service Specialists

Stephanie

"With the earthquake in Haiti, the embassy there was one of the few buildings that was basically untouched. We had a structurally sound building and that was a big success. That was a prime example of why the U.S. embassy is there, to help the host country rebuild, and they're still serving that function."

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Foreign Service Specialist, Construction Engineer
"I help build embassies."

Stephanie

Foreign Service Specialist, Construction Engineer

2410 Views
Jim

"I’ve got a passion for effective public administration. I think that one thing that really needs to be focused on in the Department and all across the public sector is making sure that all of our assets are maintained effectively and efficiently"

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Foreign Service Specialist, Facility Manager
"I am passionate about effective public administration"

Jim

Foreign Service Specialist, Facility Manager

1378 Views
Catherine

"It's a sense of adventure, and the sense of obligation and pride for the country that accepted my parents. I always thought I would join the Foreign Service, do it for a couple of years, and then move on. And after a couple of years, it was infectious. I didn't want to leave."

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Foreign Service Specialist, Financial Management Specialist
"I have a sense of adventure."

Catherine

Foreign Service Specialist, Financial Management Specialist

2061 Views
Betty

“Every post has added to my worldview of the rich texture of our humanity. I have been enriched by the genuine smiles of the very poor and lilt of laughter from the elderly. My heart has been broken by the poverty that the world still allows for some of its citizens, yet heartened by its outreach to try and fix these everlasting problems.”

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Foreign Service Specialist, Health Practitioner
“I protect the health of U.S. diplomats and their families.”

Betty

Foreign Service Specialist, Health Practitioner

1523 Views
Stella

Think of it as a small business, you know, where you’re responsible for all the telecommunications, the computer systems, the radio systems, the telephone systems. So you’re that person that everybody comes to when they need, you know, to find out what -- ‘How come I can’t get on the internet?’ or ‘How come I can’t -- my phone is not working.

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Foreign Service Specialist, Information Management
"I stepped out of my comfort zone to manage U.S. embassy telecommunications systems."

Stella

Foreign Service Specialist, Information Management

1461 Views
Tangela

The transition for me from the United States Navy to the Department of State, which – was a natural one. I always serve my country, and I continue to want to serve my country. The U.S. Navy taught me leadership and management skills; the U.S. Department of State has taught me customer service skills and a greater sensitivity to others’ needs.

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Foreign Service Specialist, Information Management
"I manage IT systems for diplomatic properties abroad."

Tangela

Foreign Service Specialist, Information Management

1257 Views
Tony

I decided to go the Information Management Specialist route because I have an undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering and then I got a master’s in International Studies. So put the two together, that was the perfect match for a kind of career I was looking for.

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Foreign Service Specialist, Information Management Specialist
"I get to travel all over the world while applying my IT expertise."

Tony

Foreign Service Specialist, Information Management Specialist

1388 Views
Susan

"We saw people with purple thumbs, where they had dipped their thumbs in the ink and everywhere we went, people were just so happy — so pleased and so proud of themselves. And for me, since I had been there almost a year and working almost every day towards this very thing, it was just overwhelming."

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Foreign Service Specialist, Office Management Specialist
"I helped hold elections."

Susan

Foreign Service Specialist, Office Management Specialist

2260 Views
David

“You get exposed to very unique experiences and very unique situations. All the psychiatric skills that I’ve learned over the years, you have an opportunity to apply that directly in many different ways, often unexpected ways.”

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Foreign Service Specialist, Regional Medical Officer/Psychiatrist
"I am an advocate for the health of people around the world."

David

Foreign Service Specialist, Regional Medical Officer/Psychiatrist

2174 Views
Chimere

"This is a very educational and challenging experience for me. It definitely gets me out of my comfort zone as well as gives me the opportunity to serve my country. I don't have to worry about staying in a cube 24/7. There’s always something exciting going on."

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Foreign Service Specialist, Security Engineering Officer
“I help protect embassies and consulates worldwide.”

Chimere

Foreign Service Specialist, Security Engineering Officer

2266 Views
Sam

"This is a lifestyle, it's not a job where you're going to put a plant in your cubicle corner and watch it grow into a tree in 20 years. You move around, you're expected to adapt well, meet new people, learn about new cultures and also perform at a high level."

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Foreign Service Specialist, Security Engineering Officer
"I serve where I’m needed."

Sam

Foreign Service Specialist, Security Engineering Officer

2257 Views
Noe

“I believe in what we're doing overseas, promoting democracy and this is my contribution in the manner I can do it. Service is something I think everyone should do.” 

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Foreign Service Specialist, Security Technical Specialist
“I contribute through my technical expertise”

Noe

Foreign Service Specialist, Security Technical Specialist

2027 Views

Civil Service

Margaux

"I would definitely encourage anybody, no matter what age, to definitely look at the State Department because as I’m a great example, I don't have the political science or international-type background. I studied sociology, business and Russian and the State Department has a variety of different types of people, different backgrounds that really promote different thoughts and work experiences."

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Civil Service, Congressional Liaison
"I am passionate about foreign policy issues."

Margaux

Civil Service, Congressional Liaison

2351 Views
Juan

"I feel like only in the United States does somebody born in Colombia actually represent the United States in its bilateral relations with Colombia. So, it's been an amazing opportunity to interact with leaders in different countries to participate in policy-making."

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Civil Service, Foreign Affairs Officer
"I represent my new country."

Juan

Civil Service, Foreign Affairs Officer

3021 Views
April

"This is a very diverse agency we have people from many backgrounds, from many different areas of the world. Every day I learn something new and I grow — and I see the positive things that the agency is involved in and that's what gives you a sense of fulfillment, that you are making a difference."

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Civil Service, Human Resources Specialist
"I learn every day."

April

Civil Service, Human Resources Specialist

2314 Views
Tony

The skills that I brought forward include programming skills, data risk management skills, database integration skills and similar items. While on the job however, we did have to leverage new skill sets and learn it on the job to include business process management via tools and leveraging web services to talk between different database systems.

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Civil Service, Information Technology Specialist
"I help improve IT business processes."

Tony

Civil Service, Information Technology Specialist

1164 Views
Robert

“I highlight best practices in my inspections and evaluation. By doing that I think I make this place, the Department of State, a much better place to work.”

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Civil Service, Inspector
"I help make the Department efficient and effective."

Robert

Civil Service, Inspector

2315 Views
Roberta

"I was particularly drawn by how pictures and visual information is transmitted throughout the world and I was excited to have a part of that visual diplomacy and that lead me to the Department of State."

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Civil Service, Marketing Director
"I visually communicate diplomacy."

Roberta

Civil Service, Marketing Director

2245 Views
Rene

“It’s like a whole different life for me, a whole different journey. It’s been challenging but it's been fun at the same time. I’ve gotten to do things I’ve never dreamed of, to work in a place, I would never have dreamed that Hillary Clinton would have been my boss.”

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Civil Service, Procurement Analyst
"I started a new chapter of my life."

Rene

Civil Service, Procurement Analyst

2043 Views
John

"I was one person, but I was representing the United States government and it really hit home, and to me — it made a huge difference just seeing how a young woman with such a small part can do such a big thing."

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Civil Service, Public Affairs Specialist
"I represent something bigger."

John

Civil Service, Public Affairs Specialist

2265 Views
Sally

"I have the best of both worlds. I have my home here in Washington D.C. and I do travel frequently, usually four or five times a year. I've been to 56 countries. I don't think there is any other place I could do that."

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Civil Service, Report Officer
I’ve seen the world

Sally

Civil Service, Report Officer

1177 Views
Ron

"The Department of State offers the ability to do something for my country, and that was the most inviting aspect to it all. It's very difficult to live in Washington and not be a part of the political scene, and I think that once you connect you begin to understand what Washington is all about and that was what drew me to it."

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Civil Service, Staff Assistant
"I’m part of the political process."

Ron

Civil Service, Staff Assistant

2544 Views
Sehreen

“I feel that communication is truly an art. Not only in how we communicate amongst ourselves in the government and U.S., but in how we build lasting relationships with publics overseas. This ability to communicate effectively and across borders is essential to my job, and I enjoy engaging our worldwide partners in diplomatic efforts.”

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Civil Service, Strategic Planning Officer
“I connect Americans to foreign nationals.”

Sehreen

Civil Service, Strategic Planning Officer

1458 Views
Corneal

“My motivation for pursuing a career and completing my degree program was my children. I strive to lead by example and provide positive assurance that, through hard work and dedication, anything is possible.”

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Civil Service, Training Technician
“I am a U.S. veteran dedicated to democracy for all.”

Corneal

Civil Service, Training Technician

1943 Views
Marc

“I always wanted a unique job that would have an impact on the world. My career with the U.S. Department of State lets me work in a multi-cultural, collaborative environment where I have the satisfaction of knowing that my skills can do just that—make a difference in the world we live in.”

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Civil Service, Video Specialist
“I am passionate about American foreign policy.”

Marc

Civil Service, Video Specialist

1430 Views

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