Foreign Service Officer talks careers in the US Department of State

U.S. Department of State's Foreign Service Officer Vayram A. Nyadroh speaking to students about professional fellowship, Jan 28. Photo by: Han
U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Officer Vayram A. Nyadroh speaking to students about professional fellowship, Jan 28. Photo by Honorat Donou

The US Department of State, in collaboration with St. Cloud State University, held an informative session on careers in the department Thursday, touching specifically on career opportunities as foreign service officers (FSO).

The session was in Centennial Hall 207 from 4 p.m. to 5.30 p.m., and was free and open to the public. Recruitment and Outreach Officer Vayram A. Nyadroh presented to an audience of roughly 50 attendees on information ranging from requirement, internship opportunities, professional fellowships, civil service, to foreign service officer career paths.

The FSO track and its career paths were the main focus of the presentation, so much so that there was another information session after the event to discuss and shed light on the Foreign Service Officer Test (FOST).

A FSO is a commissioned member of the US Foreign Service. They are people with strong leadership abilities, sound judgment, the ability to remain composed in stressful situation. And most importantly, they are trustworthy.

FSO’s have five career paths to choose from. One track takes you to becoming a consular officer to help evacuate Americans in times of turmoil in host countries, while helping protect our borders. Then, you could be an economic officer to work with foreign government on trade, energy and environmental issues, or be a management officer to run embassies’ operations. Another career path could be a political officer, analyzing a host country’s political events, or be a public diplomacy officer, promoting mutual understanding and support for US policy and goals.

Once one figures out a career path, the next step is passing the FSOT. The test is administered three times each year and comprises three sections: job knowledge, English expression and a biographic section.

After the candidates have passed the test, they must submit a personal narrative, take an oral assessment, obtain security and medical clearance. And, finally, they have their application reviewed by a review panel.

The oral assessment is conducted in the presence of a federal officer, so it is imperative to absolutely tell the truth explains Foreign Service Officer Vayram A. Nyadroh, saying “It is a crime to lie to a federal officer.”

“You know how you are asked to put down two reference persons on your application, they will go to each of them and ask them for three more,” she continues. “I know that when we are young we like to experiment many things, but believe me whatever you are hiding, they will find out about it. Whatever you have done, just tell them that.”

“We are looking for good behavior, integrity because you are going to be exposed to sensitive information that people will be willing to kill for.”

Also, when submitting your applications, write a very long resume, put down any leadership experience that you might have, she explained.

“It is a job that is very selective and strongly oriented towards experience. I guarantee you if you submit a two page only resume, you will not be considered,” said Nyadroh.

A career as a FSO changes constantly. The job can take them virtually anywhere across the world. However, if someone is to be sent to areas that could pose a risk, such as Iran or Afghanistan, they are only sent if they volunteer, explained Nyadroh.

She said, “that is the difference between us and the military.”

The information session ended with Nyadroh answering questions in one on one.

“This information session came super convenient,” said Brandon King, a freshman at SCSU. To that he added, “Some of my family members are in the Foreign Service, and so I have heard certain things, but what I found unique was the different areas, kind of like no one ever shared with me the differences between generalist and specialist, application-wise and occupation-wise.”

When asked if he Brandon King if he would you apply for the job, he replied, “For sure, I understand that it is very competitive, but yes I would apply.”

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