Last week I received a supplement in the Wall Street Journal that included a survey of the "100 Most Attractive Employers". The survey included 75,000 college and MBA students and it included lists of most attractive employers for students of different disciplines. The survey's results can be found at http://universumglobal.com/ideal-employer-rankings/student-surveys/usa/
The Department of State rankings were:
- #3 for students in Humanities
- #18 for IT students
- #20 for students in natural sciences
- #25 for MBAs; #22 Business undergrads
I was surprised at how high the Department of State ranked in these lists. According to an article in the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57574-2004Oct23.html), the average age of new hires into the Foreign Service is 30. Thus, it seems that new graduates would have an uphill battle to get a position as a Junior Foreign Service Officer. However, while difficult, this is not an impossible goal.
Of course, you will be competing with other applicants who have more work experience and life experiences. Thus, you will be at a disadvantage. You will need to maximize your advantages:
- Do extremely well on the written exam;
- Demonstrating Cultural Adaptability is very important for young applicants. Try to get as many experiences as possible -- and make the best of them.
- Speaking one or several foreign languages is "critical" (especially for critical languages);
- Experiences abroad are extremely valuable: If you go on a semester abroad, make sure you take classes with locals in the local language and not in English. Work experience, or a summer internship abroad, would also demonstrate your ability to adjust to other countries' cultures.
If you are a young candidate and have any recommendations for other young candidates, we would appreciate your input in the comments section and will attempt to add some recommendations in a future edition of the book.