Posted July 18, 2015 by

Job Seeker Webinar Careers in the Foreign Service – The Exam Process and Student Opportunities

There are great opportunities to become a Foreign and Civil Service officer. The positions are taken very seriously and the application process is very intricate. But there are fellowship and internship opportunities to become involved while still going to graduate school.

Andrea McEwen-Henderson, National Account Manager for College Recruiter, hosts this recorded webinar with Ana Escrogima, Diplomat in Residence for the New York Metro area, who discusses the Foreign Service Exam and the Civil Service hiring process. She also reviews the State Department internship program and various graduate fellowship opportunities.

Key Takeaways:

  • Much of the State Department career information, including exam practice materials, internship information, and vacancy notices, are available on careers.state.gov and on the State Department careers app, DOSCareers.
  • Setting up an account on usajobs.gov is essential when searching for Civil Service jobs and applying for internships with the State Department.
  • Positions with the State Department are competitive; interested applicants must keep abreast of vacancies and apply immediately.

Topics Discussed:

  1. What is the difference between the Foreign Service and Civil Service?
  • Foreign overseas civil domestic
  • Entry process is different foreign is 3 phase exam process
  1. Can you walk us through the stages of the Foreign Service exam?
  • The Foreign Service Exam is a 3-phase exam process. The first phase is the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT), which is offered in February, June, and October. It is a multiple-choice exam. When you register to take the exam, you choose which track you are going to take (political, diplomatic, economic, and management) and then register online at {careers.state.gov}. You should be well versed in US and World history, geography, and economics. Once you have passed the multiple-choice test, you move on to the essay portion. After the essay, you receive an invitation to submit responses to questionnaires, which are giving a personal narrative to find out your motivations and show them your experience. They are looking for the 13 dimensions (leadership, judgment, personal skills, etc.) to be a great Foreign Service Officer. These are then reviewed by current Foreign Service Officers. If accepted then you will go to a daylong in-person interview, both an individual and group to see how you work with others. This is a very long process and usually takes a total of about a year from registration date.
  1.       What are the different tracks of the Foreign Service?
  • The arm of the embassy is politics. Political Officers advance US priorities on numbers of political issues.
  • Public Diplomacy includes following the media, building relations with journalists, fostering people to people, and while there is government-to-government diplomacy, it’s important to exchange culture, education, and knowledge between countries.
  • Management involves giving tourist, immigration, and work visas, American citizen services overseas, and responding to natural disasters by evacuating the American citizens. This also includes managing the budget and running the IT department.
  • Economics involves things like trade, finance, and promotion of American businesses overseas by building relations with foreign businesses and investors.
  1.       How can someone get an internship with the State Department? And what can an intern expect to do?
  • The State Department takes 1,000 interns a year into their seasonal programs. There are summer, spring, and fall programs. Applications are due 9 months in advance to the program start date. These programs are not just shadowing employees and getting coffee, they’re intense. You are a valuable resource to fill in staffing gaps, will have heavy responsibilities, while being an unpaid intern you can apply for scholarships to help pay for housing if far from home.
  1.       What are the various fellowships available through the State Department?
  • There are two main fellowships through the State Department. The Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship and the Rangel International Affairs Program. These are nearly full funding programs for the first two years of graduate school and you get internships during summers in-between your education. The Rangel Program is congressionally oriented on the hill in Congress while Pickering is at the State Department itself. They are very similar fellowship opportunities. Both receive money for graduate school, summer internships, and a position in Foreign Service after graduation.
  • Presidential Management Fellowship Program (PMF) is a Federal Government wide program, which is great for anyone entering graduate school that wants to get their foot in the door of the Federal Government. The program is a 2-year fellowship in which you will work with different agencies and could gain a Civil Service position in the Federal Government in the agency that chooses to hire you through the program.

 

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