Diplomats and Film – An Unfortunate History

Remember all those movies you’ve seen where the heroic American diplomat saves the day? Oh, I’m sorry. I’m thinking of the heroic soldier or CIA spy or “average Joe wronged by the system.” The Department of State official is generally the nerdy little guy who spouts regulations, hinders everything, and then gets punched by our hero.

Welcome to your future portrayal in the media if you join the U.S. Foreign Service. Maybe that’s not 100% true, but it feels like it. For whatever reason, diplomats tend to be portrayed as, at best, inept and, at worst, the villain in most films. Why this is I could only guess. (My number one guess would be our lack of guns.)

Promotions in the Foreign Service

For my 100th post, I asked for ideas for future posts and a few of you were kind enough to throw some good topics my way. In the comments of that post, Jay asked about promotions and pay increases, particularly early in your Foreign Service career.

As mentioned in my all-time most popular post about salary in the Foreign Service, all FS generalists enter the service with a grade of FS-06 to FS-04. In addition to your grade, you are also assigned a step within that grade from 1 to 14. That step increases every year and comes with a small salary increase. The grade, however, changes only upon promotion.


I’ve Got 99 Posts, But This Ain’t 1

Real life diplomacy is like the board game, but less violent.

Real life diplomacy is like the board game, but less violent.

That’s right, this post marks the big 1-0-0 for the site. It’s quite an achievement, if I say so myself.

When I began this blog, I knew I wanted to keep the site pretty much focused on how to best prepare for the Foreign Service exam with the occasional tidbit about what to expect in the Foreign Service lifestyle. There are tons of terrific FS blogs out there, but most of them tend to stray into the personal life of the writer. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that (I’ve been guilty a few times), but I wanted my site to be focused. After all, I know 99% of my followers aren’t reading because they’re fans of me, they want to know how to get my job.


7 Tips to Dominate the Personal Narrative Questions

It’s funny to watch the traffic on the site wax and wane. Usually whenever it is time to register, I get a little surge then it goes back down. Next, I get a big wave of traffic when people find out they have passed the written portion of the Foreign Service Officer Test. Oddly enough, a big dip in traffic tends to happen after the results of the Qualifications Evaluation Panel are released.
Why? Because most people just get completely destroyed at this stage and find out their candidacy has come to a premature end. No doubt about it, this is a tough part of the process. The most frustrating thing is, you often don’t even know whey you didn’t get selected to move on to the Oral Assessment. You are simply told you are done. Do not pass go. To a certain extent, there isn’t even much you can do to improve for next year. The QEP reviews your experience and you either have that or you don’t. However, this is one absolutely crucial part of the QEP that you can improve and that is the Personal Narratives you write.
I’ve offered some tips on that before and now I’m going to do it again. I’ve lined up a great guest poster to share his suggestions for improving your chances at getting past the QEP. FSO PRO has a new website with a similar mission to my own: trying to improve your chances at getting into the Foreign Service. The more the merrier, I say. Check out what he has to say below and then go check out his site. There’s a lot of great information over there.

Where's the 'Any' key?

Where’s the ‘Any’ key?


Life at Embassy Kabul

Daily life at every U.S. Embassy around the world varies in flavor. Some are sleepy, backwater posts where the work quietly chugs along with little notice from Washington. Others are constantly in the spotlight and received a steady flow of VIP visitors, each eager to be where the action is. Then there are the war zones. Your Afghanistans, Iraqs, Yemens, and Sudans. These posts are a world unto themselves.