Difficult Choice — What’s Your Career Track?

 

 

One of the first hurdles to joining the Foreign Service happens even before you take the FSOT.

The State Department makes you pick your Career Track, aka Cone, when you register for the Exam. That’s right, even before you’ve worked in an Embassy, you must select your Career Track.

Worse still, remember that your will guide your cone for your 20+ year career and it’s impossible to change it once you’re in the Foreign Service. Daunting, no?

Don’t worry. I have organized the information from Careers.State.Gov. I’ve also identified two books that will help in your search.

Five Career Tracks

There are five Career Tracks in the Foreign Service: Consular, Economic, Management, Political, and Public Diplomacy.

All of the Career Tracks offer varied and interesting work, and it’s no longer true that only Economic and Political officers become Senior Foreign Service officers, DCMs, and Ambassadors.

Many applicants choose to become Political or Economic officers because that’s the job that’s depicted in books or films. You know, pencil-necked, introspective quislings who invariably ends up relying on the hero of the story to survive. Seriously, that’s a myth and FSOs are usually courageous (at least most of the time!)

How to Decide?

You need to take a closer look at the Career Tracks to make your decision. Do the following:

— Read the information at Careers.State.Gov, take the Career Track Quiz and listen to the Diplomats@work (yes, a bit cheesy, but they can help)

Call a Diplomat-in-Residence (however with the current government shutdown, which has affected the State Department, the DIRs may not be working). Also check out nearby if there are nearby recruiting events. (Be warned, the search engine is not great);

— The following books are excellent ways to help you pick your Career Track:
1) Inside a U.S. Embassy: How the Foreign Service Works for America, published by the American Foreign Service Association, available on Amazon. ISBN-13: 978-0964948846

2) America’s Other Army: The U.S. Foreign Service and 21st-Century Diplomacy (Second Updated Edition), author Nicholas Kralev, ISBN-13: 978-1517254513

I also have a few videos on YouTube that focus on these specific topics. Search for FSOT Prep.

 

 

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