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.
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.