Working for the Go’mint

People are breaking down the doors trying to get jobs for the Federal government.   In these inconsistent economic times, the promise of steady work and a good pension trump dreams of riches. 

US Captiol on March 22, 2009

My original plan when I joined the FS was to stay in for about seven years and then start a different career.   It didn’t work out that way.  When my seventh anniversary came, I was in Norway in a great job.   Then I was in Krakow.   Who would ever want to leave a job in Krakow?  Then Warsaw, Fletcher School, it was always something good.  The only time I was really unhappy with the job was brief time when I was doing shift work in the Operations Center 1997-8, but I was only there for nine months and they sent me to Poland for three of those months to work on NATO expansion issues, so I never got around to sending my resume around.  

You have to look at the totality of life that goes with a career, not just the job alone.   As an FSO, I get to travel, meet interesting people, work with a variety of ideas and serve my country.   I am not being facetious when I say that I had the opportunity to go to Iraq and the privilege to live with Marines.  Few jobs offer that sort of adventure to a man north of fifty years old.

State Department has long been a popular place to work and the FS never has any trouble recruiting good people.   BTW – it is a good time to be looking for a job as an FSO.   They are hiring a lot this year.  This year, however, people government jobs are popular across the board.   I have mixed feelings about that.  It depends on why you want to work for the USG.  There is a special responsibly when you work for your Uncle Sam.   Government jobs should be callings, not refuges. 

I am glad that we have so many good people who want to work in the USG.  I welcome them in the FS – follow this link.  But we don’t want too much of a good thing.   America has been an exceptional country ever since our revolution and even before.  There are other models.  France has followed a different, more directed, strategy since its revolution, for example.  France is a great and beautiful country, but I prefer America.  

In France, the best students dream of getting secure jobs in the government. Young Americans have always had visions of being entrepreneurs or running businesses. I am delighted to have enthusiastic and smart young people eager to work with us and they are coming at just the right time.  We will face a wave of retirements in the next five years.  We will need them in the FS to accomplish our mission. But I hope they are doing it for the right reasons (because they want to do good service not just for security) and I hope that soon young Americans will recover their confidence in the economy and themselves.  I hope that some of them will still want to work with us, but maybe not so many.