Post 4: Learning About the Foreign Service

When working for an agency as diverse as the Department of State, it is important to learn as much as possible about job opportunities within the Department. In hopes of gaining an understanding of the range of different positions people hold within the Department, the intern supervisor in my office encouraged me and the other interns to reach out to full-time employees from other bureaus and offices to carry out “informational interviews.” I was able to locate the email addresses of several individuals who currently hold positions that sounded interesting to me. I then reached out to them in order to learn about what they do and how they got there, in hopes of learning what I can do now to start working towards a similar career. I was also generally interested in how they were able to get their current position.

Hannah in the “Flag Hall” at the Department of State which holds flags from all countries that host diplomatic missions.

This lesson has taught me the importance of reaching out and arranging meetings as a way of networking with professionals, and that it’s not necessary to have a certain purpose for meeting, but rather, being curious about someone’s work is a good enough reason. I also realized that this initial “informational interview” meeting is only the first step of networking and it is important to follow up and keep in touch with people so that a relationship can be fostered, which will be important for years to come. You never know where contacts might be able to land you a job!

I am happy to say that this internship has successfully catered towards my “Career Goal” of observing how diplomacy works in the realm of official foreign policy. Within my first week at the Department of State I had the chance to speak with a Foreign Service officer who was stationed in my office. In the following weeks, I have met many more individuals from the Department of State who serve in the Foreign Service (working for the U.S. government while being stationed abroad, promoting peace, supporting prosperity, and protecting American citizens).

In addition to networking, I have also had the chance to attend panels and presentations devoted to the discussion of the Foreign Service. The panels have been catered towards different target audiences: some for interns in particular, as well as others for Civil Service Staff (employees based in Washington, D.C.) who may be interested in serving in the Foreign Service in the future, and even one for women who were interested in a variety of different government jobs (including the Foreign Service). It has been a great experience learning about this specific career path and I feel more informed than ever before about the job options available in the realm of foreign policy!

 

-Hannah Cook, ’20

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