Page 31 - Foreign Service Journal - October, 2012b

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expected,” says a consular ofcer serving in South Asia. “But work
in the Foreign Service has been eye-opening. For one, I wasn’t
expecting such an emphasis on quantity of work, at the expense
of quality. In the evaluation process, I was also surprised by the
lack of mechanisms that objectively measure merit.”
“I did my homework,” says econ ofcer Mark Palermo. “It
is about what I expected. It is an odd hybrid, not quite the
usual insular bureaucracy, but not entrepreneurial in big
ways. People working here know they are part of a relatively
small, elite agency. Te mission is big but vague. Innovation
happens in many small ways, but we are absolutely horrible
at capturing it and propagating best ideas. We are atomized at
times. We are a team, but one with many highly individualistic
people who get paid to think for themselves. Te relationship
between Washington and the feld is bafing and Byzantine.
We have little or no ‘brand identity’ inside or outside the State
Department.”
Most Satisfying and Least Satisfying
We asked respondents to share the most- and least-satis-
fying elements of their work in the Foreign Service to date.
Nearly one-third of the State FSOs cite consular work as highly
satisfying (every new-hire State FSO must serve at least one
year in a consular position before tenure). “Te most satisfy-
ing elements have been helping American citizens in need and
meeting foreigners who do awe-inspiring work for their own
countries as well as for bilateral relations with the U.S.,” says
Tressa Weyer, a consular track ofcer serving in Moscow. Least
satisfying for her are “the cumbersome bureaucratic tools such
as E2solutions [for travel/voucher management] and Ariba [for
procurement].”
Many point to “helping others” or “helping colleagues” as
most satisfying. Some say working with great people is the most
satisfying element of their job, and others mention “mak-
ing a diference.” Still others point to travel and discovering