by Josh Glazeroff
On August 18, 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke to this year’s participants in the Department’s internship and fellowship programs (see https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2017/08/273527.htm for full text). His remarks acknowledged a diversity gap at the Department and the need to increase diversity at the highest ranks. He also committed the Department to working harder to find diverse candidates from across the country, and reexamining both where we recruit and how to build relationships with institutions throughout the United States.
The Foreign Service Act of 1980 mandates that the members of the Foreign Service be representative of the American people, and the Department of State seeks to recruit under-represented minorities for both Civil Service and Foreign Service careers. The Bureau of Human Resources Office of Recruitment, Examination and Employment (HR/REE) focuses on reaching qualified candidates on university campuses and in professional communities, with special attention paid to regions distant from Washington, D.C. The Department’s recruitment and outreach strategy is coordinated nationally and seeks to identify and reach prospective candidates through four main methods: person-to-person contact, electronic marketing and use of social media, dedicated student internship and fellowship programs, and partnerships with organizations that identify outstanding students.
To establish personal contact with prospective candidates, sixteen Foreign Service Officers and Specialists assigned as Diplomats in Residence (DIRs) on university campuses throughout the United States, as well as ten Washington-based recruiters, visit Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). HBCUs hosting DIRs include institutions in Atlanta (Morehouse/Spelman), Tallahassee (Florida A&M), and Washington, DC (Howard University); HSIs host DIRs at the University of New Mexico, Florida International University, Miami-Dade College, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Department recruiters participate in career fairs, present on panels and host information sessions at the conferences of partners including the League of United Latin American Citizens, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), Prospanica (formerly known as the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA)), the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Thurgood Marshall College Fund Leadership Institute Conference, Hiring Our Heroes and Hiring Heroes (two fairs for Veterans with and without service connect disabilities), Deaf Nation World Expo, Employ Ability Expo for People with Disabilities, and many other partners with a focus on diversity and inclusion.
The HR/REE marketing team leads Department efforts to broaden its reach and raise awareness among diverse audiences about career and student opportunities. The team develops, implements, and tracks advertising plans that combine the use of paid, owned and earned media and include targeted emails, direct sourcing, advertising, and social recruitment. The Department uses LinkedIn, and other prospect databases, to contact Foreign Service specialist candidates and engage with applicants throughout the entire recruitment and hiring processes.
Fellowships and Internships
With a goal of bringing highly qualified minority candidates into the Foreign Service, the Department offers fellowship programs that provide funding for graduate school and student internships. The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs and the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowships remain critical components of the Department of State’s diversity recruitment program for Foreign Service Officers. The Foreign Affairs IT Fellowship is entering its second year sponsoring the undergraduate or graduate studies of those willing to join as Foreign Service Information Management Specialists. The Department also has a two-summer paid student internship program that provides opportunities for highly qualified students from under-represented groups. The U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program provides a two-summer internship experience to the best qualified sophomores and juniors. The first combines an academic overview of diplomatic careers with real-world work experience in a Washington, D.C. bureau; the second internship takes place the following summer at an embassy overseas. Department recruiters also interview college students and recent graduates with disabilities through the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP). WRP is a federal recruitment and referral program that connects employers with students and recent graduates interested in summer or permanent employment. At State, we have central funding in place to support placement of interns throughout the organization. For students who are unable to travel, or who prefer engaging on-line, the Department of State hosts the Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) which offers more than 1300 digital eInternships yearly across 33 Federal agencies.
Check out our website: careers.state.gov for more on the various opportunities we offer. Get in touch with our Diplomats in Residence, based at universities across the United States (listed on the careers.gov website). You can also download our careers mobile app, DOSCareers, from the Apple or Google app store.