Page 23 - Foreign Service Journal - October, 2012b

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
OCTOBER 2012
23
and USAID between 2008 and 2012. We asked for comments on
a range of topics focused on the Foreign Service career, culture
and life. Our initiative was not designed as a scientifc survey,
but rather an informal way to take the pulse of the new Foreign
Service generation.
Here we present a picture that has been distilled from the
candid and thoughtful responses of some 60 individuals of
diverse backgrounds from a wide variety of career tracks at
State and USAID. (More extensive material from this “sound-
ing” will be available online at www.afsa.org/fsj.)
A careful read through the information we received yields a
number of broad observations about the new generation:
• Tey joined to serve their country: the concept of “public
service” is alive and well in the Foreign Service.
• A majority of them have lived overseas before.
• Tey bring to the Service a vast array and depth of profes-
sional and life experience—though it is not experience in
nation-state diplomacy—which they hope will be utilized.
• Tey are tech-savvy and comfortable with social media, less
so with traditional diplomatic writing.
• Work/life balance is critical to them, and spousal employ-
ment opportunities will determine whether many remain in
the Service.
• For the most part, they knew what they were getting into
before joining the Foreign Service.
• Tey are less inclined to see divides or hierarchies between
FS generalists and specialists and between Foreign Service
Americans and Foreign Service Nationals/Locally Employed
Staf.
• Tey are astounded by the extent of agency bureaucracy.
• Tey are disappointed by mid-level (mis)management.
• Te elements of the system they see as needing the most
improvement are the annual evaluation process and the
assignments system.
Who Is Generation 3.0?
Overall, the new generation may not be all that diferent
from previous groups of entrants going back a few decades.
New hires tend to be of various ages, averaging in the low 30s;
well-educated; from diverse backgrounds and professional set-
tings. Tey bring a broad base of foreign language knowledge
and overseas experience.
Making the Foreign Service look more like America will
continue to be a major challenge for State and USAID recruit-
ers, but progress is being made.
Te male/female ratio seems to be balancing out, with some
State Foreign Service ofcer classes having more women than
men. Certain specialist tracks continue to attract more men
than women, including diplomatic security and construction
engineering.
Te number of minority new hires fuctuates; for State, it
tends to rise when Pickering fellowships and other programs
conclude and participants (many of whom are minorities) join
the Foreign Service.
Te single most common characteristic new hires share
is previous overseas experience, although most join without
exposure to nation-state diplomacy. Many who join USAID
come in with development work experience.
To get a sense of demographics, we asked each respondent
to describe his or her orientation class in terms of diversity of
gender, ethnicity, race, age, work and educational background,
FOCUS
THE NEW FS GENERATION
Entry-level ofcers from Embassy Dhaka at the National Parliament
of Bangladesh, where they toured the building, library and reading
room on March 20. From left to right, Marita Lamb, vice consul;
Brigid Ryan, vice consul; Gregg Tripoli, political ofcer; Anastassia
Littlefeld, political/economic OMS; Felicia Genet, TDY from USAID
Sudan Ofce of Transition and Confict Mitigation, Khartoum;
Ogniana Ivanova-Sriram, vice consul; Venkatesh Ramachandran,
assistant GSO; Gayle Shayman, RSO OMS; Matt Steed, vice consul;
Mikkela Thompson, management OMS; (above) Maychin Ho, USAID
Ofce of Acquisition and Assistance; and Kerry West, USAID Ofce
of Acquisition and Assistance.
and USAID’s New Entry Professional program.
It was absorbed quite swiftly, primarily due
to extraordinary stafng needs in Iraq and
Afghanistan.
Te new elephant is currently being digested.
But before it is completely absorbed, we want
to take a look inside the boa. We want to get a
sense of what the new hires of Diplomacy 3.0
and the DLI see. What do they expect from this
career, and are those expectations being met?
What are the resulting new strengths and chal-
lenges for the Foreign Service?
To fnd out, AFSA sent out a request for input
via our AFSAnet listserv to members of the For-
eign Service who joined the State Department