What Specialists Want You to Know
COMPILED BY FRANCESCA KELLY
IT Works for You
Decades ago, people used to come in as “communicators”—the guys who loved doing the classified, encrypted stuff, loved being in the box. But it’s changed a lot because technology has changed a lot. Both sides (classified and unclassified) require similar IT work now.
Whether you work on one side of the house or the other, the world still changes. It comes down to this: What can you do to help your customer find the right tools?
Information Resources Management,
Public Affairs and Communication
A substantial amount of effort goes into the network and system maintenance. Most good IT people do a ton of preventive maintenance and monitoring to keep the systems running smoothly. People tend not to understand or know the amount of work involved in having an operation run well enough that you never have to see the techs.
Information Management Specialist
We Are Well-Qualified
[There is an] ever-increasing demand for nurse practitioners and physician assistants, not only within the State Department but in the United States, as well.
A recent report in the Dallas Business Journal states that the demand for PAs and NPs has increased more than 300 percent in the past three years. Both hold masters’ degrees and advanced certification. A number of our NPs hold doctoral degrees.
director, MED’s Foreign Service Health Practitioners Program
We Are You!
Part of our unique role comes from the fact that psychiatrists—indeed, all FS medical personnel overseas—live and work among their U.S. diplomatic colleagues, and daily experience the same joys and challenges of overseas diplomatic life and work.
director, MED’s Mental Health Services
People tend not to understand or know the amount of work involved in having an operation run well enough that you never have to see the techs.
—Terry Pozcak, IMS
Overseas Construction Isn’t the Same
Construction in the United States utilizes more 3-D design software and prefabrication of building systems in factory environments than construction overseas. Contractors working on our projects in underdeveloped countries still tend to focus on minimizing shipping expenses and making use of affordable labor by fabricating more on site.
We Are Foreign Service, Too!
Diplomatic Security folks have so many different postings, including domestic assignments, and the job changes constantly even within the United States. They can serve anywhere, from a field office to the Secretary of State’s security detail.
I would love for others to realize that serving in multiple domestic positions doesn’t lessen our “Foreign Service-ness.” I actually had someone tell me recently that we couldn’t be “real FS” because we had served a domestic tour outside of Washington, D.C. I think my head spun in eight directions.
Anonymous Diplomatic Security Spouse
Stable, but Less Than Thrilled
My experience in talking with other techs is they generally are not really happy with the State Department as an employer, but they stick around because they like the lifestyle. This will help the department maintain a stable work force, but not an elite work force. The truly driven and talented will ultimately leave for the private sector or other agencies.
Anonymous Information Resources Specialist
We Secure Your Workplace
The motto of Security Engineering Officers and Security Technical Specialists is “Defend, Detect, Deter.” Our job is to technically secure State Department work spaces so that everyone else can succeed in doing their jobs.
Security Engineering Officer
We Are Human Resources
I landed at my first post eager and ready to serve. However, within days of my arrival, I was cautioned by colleagues to “get out of HR as soon as possible” due to that bureau’s terrible reputation at State.
Rather than run for the nearest exit, I took this as a challenge to help improve that reputation. I remind myself every day that the first word in my position title is “human,” and compassion should always come first.
Jill E. Perry,
Human Resources Course Chair/FSI
Remember that the Washington-end requirements are often as big a headache for me as they are for you.
—Hunter Crowder, GSO Specialist
It’s All (Tech) Hands on Deck
There are sections of posts with an almost unlimited budget that request highly technical systems that neither they nor the people who work for them understand.
If a system fails or malfunctions, they ask for more systems and more technology. When something breaks, in an emergency they turn to the only technical persons at post.
At many posts where there are no security engineers or technicians, the facilities managers and the locals can wind up working on some very sophisticated—and in some cases, dangerous—systems that no one has training on.
Anonymous Facility Manager
We Are Organized
OMSs can organize the hell out of anything we want to.
Office Management Specialist
We Don’t Make the Bureaucratic Rules
To my generalist colleagues: When you are an under secretary or ambassador and in a position to make change, just remember how much you hated the bureaucracy and how difficult it was to get things done within the State bureaucracy.
Remember that the Washington-end requirements are often as big a headache for me as they are for you. Change them, and you’ll help us do our jobs better.
General Services Officer
There Aren’t Enough of Us
I’ve only been working with the department for five years now. However, in the last 10 years or so our programs have expanded rapidly.
For example, the English Access Microscholarship came into being worldwide in 2004. This program has grown and grown, and to date it has provided after-school English classes to more than 100,000 students in over 80 countries. In addition, now we have more E-teacher courses, webinars, MOOCs (massive open online courses) and AmericanEnglish.state.gov.
I think the biggest issue for RELOs is still staffing. There are just not enough RELOs, FSNs working on English Language Programs, or Civil Service colleagues in the Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs to meet the huge, ever-growing demand for our programs.
I think we currently have 29 or 30 RELOs for the entire world. RELOs in Africa cover 15 to 17 countries each. And with hiring freezes and attrition, we don’t have enough D.C.-based staff either.
Diane M. Millar,
Regional English Language Officer
- Which Specialization is Right for You? (U.S. Department of State Website)