A comment from Diplopundit:
I happened to walk by the A-100 classroom today as one of the coordinators was crushing the blogging hopes and dreams of one of the new officers. It was sad to watch.
I was that new officer. One of our coordinators warned us of the perils of blogging and then quoted directly from this blog and I got shamed for talking about being tired. Then there was discussion of our “hallway reputation” and what blogging could do (essentially hurt our careers). I’m sure that’s the party line (and I can certainly see the thinking behind this) and so I don’t blame the coordinator for that speech, but having said that…
Digger wrote, “ Personally, I blog because I love serving this country and I want other good folks to join me, but with eyes wide open.”
Like Digger, those are the reasons I originally started doing this. There is nothing on this blog that I hadn’t already said in person to my classmates, that hadn’t been mentioned to me by multiple other people. Are there days of work when people are tired? Or bored? Or frustrated? Of course. I think there are those days at every job, and U.S. Government jobs are no different. I have heard similar comments about such days from Ambassadors to interns. Like Digger, I want people who are interested in this career to join with eyes wide open. Is the State Department a great place to work? Of course. Does it have its share of problems like everywhere else? Of course it does.
I don’t believe in sugarcoating everything for interested applicants. People should know what they’re getting themselves into, the good, the bad, and everything in between. It lets them make informed decisions and the Department gets people who are aware of how things work (instead of getting in, possibly hearing a “sugarcoated” version, and then having to figure out some issues on their own).
The State Department’s reputation has taken a hit in the last few years, I think not only in the public as a whole, but even within the government bubble. Personally, I think it’s good for people to know that the Department is not just some giant bureaucratic beheamoth. That even though Foreign Service Officers are sometimes called “elite,” that we are human. We have good days and we have bad days. That yes, there are days that are more exciting than other days. That the Department is not a large conservative entity with the same thinking (excluding policy here of course) on everything. We are a people organization and we need to be able to reach out to people and not be so naive as to believe they'll buy an only positive message.
So where do we go from here? I’m not sure. I’m considering a reboot. I had a couple more posts I had in the works about the exam and entering process, which I enjoyed working on. Maybe I’ll just stick to posting those for now. Or maybe I’ll send them to Digger so at least they’re posted somewhere for who are interested. I'll have to take some time to think about this.
I can't say that this experience hasn't affected my thinking about the State Department and Foreign Service. As for how exactly, that remains to be seen.
Welcome, Mr. Secretary
11 months ago