Page 24 - Foreign Service Journal - October, 2012b

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international experience,
languages spoken and
family status (single, mar-
ried/partner, kids). Here
is a sampling of State and
USAID orientation classes
as described:
State FSOs, 143rd
A-100, 2009, class of 92:
Te class was very diverse
regarding gender and age. If
there were more men than women, I didn’t notice; it seemed
very balanced. However, there were shockingly few minorities
represented. One minority classmate told me that her heart
was pounding on the frst day of A-100 as she scanned the
room and saw only one other dark-skinned new FSO—out of
92. Tat’s something you’d expect from her mother’s genera-
tion, not ours!
State FSOs, 150th A-100, 2010, class of 81:
Tis class was
60-percent men; maybe 10-percent minorities. Huge age range,
from 22 to 59, with a median age of 35. Of the 81, about 15
people were over 40. Probably 30 percent had Ph.Ds.; 10 per-
cent were lawyers; 40 percent were former Peace Corps
Volunteers. Very bright, interesting cadre of professionals.
Maybe only 10 percent lacked language profciency. Te
second- and third-career ofcers were very interesting and
diverse. All had concerns about how or whether their expertise
would be used in the FS.
State FS Specialists, 2011, class of 75:
My entry class
consisted of almost every type of American out there: from
new citizens, language-needs hiring, African-American, Asian
and so on. We had fve or six religions represented, including
Latter-Day Saints and Muslims. In age, we ranged from 21 to
late 50s. We spoke many languages. I was excited to see that the
hiring included folks of all types, including some who would
need special accommodation.
USAID DLI Class, 2009, class of 40:
My entry class was
fairly diverse. We had about 30 Caucasians; the other 10
included African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans.
We came from all over the U.S., and all had at least a master’s
degree (a requirement for joining DLI). Tere were more men
than women, probably about 60/40. Average age seemed to be
between 30 and 35. Some of us had up to 20 years of work expe-
rience; a few had less than fve. Nearly all had lived overseas
and worked in international development before. Most of us
spoke a foreign language to some extent. About half of us were
married or had a partner
who would travel to post,
and probably about a third
had children.
Why Join the
Foreign Service?
Te most frequent
response to the question of
the motivation for joining
the FS was “to serve my
country” or “public service.” Other factors were the desire to
work and live overseas and to work in international relations/
foreign policy/development. Several respondents mentioned
wanting to further democracy and human rights. Answers did
not difer in any noticeable way between men and women or
between State ofcers and specialists. Only a few new hires
mentioned job security as a motivation; one USAID ofcer
mentioned the fact that he was “laid of, wanted to do some-
thing meaningful” as his motivation.
“It is what I always wanted to do,” says economic track
ofcer Mark Palermo, who joined in 2008. “But when I gradu-
ated from college in 1992, I was told it was impossible to get
in, especially for somebody coming right out of undergrad. I
already had a job lined up (in a bad economy), so I let it go.
Approaching 40, I was reaching a point in my life where I felt I
was running out of time to serve my country, to work for a pros-
perous and peaceful future, and, well, I guess to have a legacy
other than running an architecture company and making a
good living. Maybe an early mid-life crisis?”
One consular ofcer, himself an immigrant, said that he
wanted to do something that allowed him to have an impact on
people’s lives. He decided to join on a whim one day while surf-
ing the Internet for career options.
Many State FSOs tried numerous times to get in before suc-
ceeding, including one person who got through the process on
the ffth try and another on the sixth.
Several of the State specialists did not know about those
career options until just before applying. “Te thought of
joining the Foreign Service had never crossed my mind,” says
Security Engineering Ofcer Daniel Carlson. “Honestly, I had
no idea they even hired engineers. However, as soon as I saw
the job posting, I started working on my application. I had an
ofer within about eight months.” A health practitioner says he
heard about the Foreign Service from a recruiter at a medical
“The newer generations
have higher expectations
that the workplace/agency
should be responsive to
their needs and interests.”
–FSO Ben Kaufeld