So You Want My Job: Foreign Service Officer/Diplomat
When we compare Foreign Service job with FBI and CIA, it does not get too much attention. But, for becoming a diplomat, it must be in your mind that this job requires too much traveling, adventure and passion about cross cultural studies. No doubt, if you love to work in different countries and intending to promote peace, prosperity and progress then this job is best for you. Being a diplomat, you will have to safeguard the interests of Americans. You will be required to protect all citizens of United States who are living in different countries. Your assignment is not confined to certain areas. To complete your assignments, you may be posted to any of the 265 American embassies around the world. Exactly, it can be a war torn country or third world.
To learn more about this tricky and tough job, we would interview a US diplomat Shawn Kobb who is currently posted in Kabul. If you intend to be a diplomat, must visit his website where he offers tips on how to qualify the Foreign Service Exam.
1. Tell us a little about yourself (Where are you from? How old are you? Describe your job and how long you’ve been at it, etc.):
I am hailing from a small town of northern Indiana and born in 1977. I took my post-elementary education from Manchester University and studied Theatre and Communications. In 2006, I joined department of state of United States as a Foreign Service Officer, generally known as diplomat. This job is full with diversity but in simple words we are the face of U.S government across the globe. We have staff in all embassies around the world and we provide assistance to people of America living in different countries. Presently, I am in Kabul but I have lived in Bahamas, Washington, D.C, and Ukraine.
2. Why did you want to become a diplomat? When did you know it was what you wanted to do?
Since my childhood, I was quite passionate about traveling and learning other cultures. I took my college studies from Europe and started finding governmental jobs rightly after 9/11 incident. Yes, I do not remember where I heard about Foreign Service and how I got interested in it. But, I remember that in 2004 I had checked my email from an internet café of Bangkok and found that I had qualified all the papers successfully.
3. What’s the best way to prepare yourself to join the Foreign Service? What should you major in and what kinds of experiences and skills should you seek?
The best way to prepare yourself for becoming a diplomat, you need to have variety of knowledge. Personally, I think that the degrees we get from the universities have no value. It is the Foreign Service Exam that has to be qualified. To qualify it, you must be well versed with government, history, economics, popular culture, geography, and English subjects.
4. What is the process for applying to the Foreign Service?
This exam is based on several portions and you have to qualify every portion for reaching to the next. Firstly, there is written test which has to be passed. Once you go through the test, you will be required to submit resume along with personal statement elaborating your background studies and experience. After passing this portion, you will be summoned for oral exam which is based on interviews, group tasks, command tasks and general discussion. After that, you will be checked for security clearance which is also a tough for those who have poor background.
5. What is the Foreign Service Officer test like? How should you prepare for it?
The written exam is really complicated. You can be asked anything. For passing this portion, general knowledge is highly demanded. On the other hand, oral exam is slightly easier than written. I used to take tips from internet, forums, and friends to build my confidence. Besides, State Department is also conducting test sessions to help out the candidates.
6. Any other advice, tips, commentary or anecdotes you’d like to share?
The U.S Foreign Service is not only a job but the whole lifestyle .It gives you the opportunity to meet with people of different countries and offers you the chance to travel the world. To me, there is no better job than the Foreign Service. You learn a lot from you experience and the most important thing of this job is that you lead your country across the globe.