Throughout orientation, lectures, emails, and meetings, I've come across a multitude of advice and words of wisdom for Foreign Service Officers. Here's a compilation of some of the remarks I particularly like.
- Be flexible and contribute where you can. Perform every task professionally and positively. Always make yourself useful.
- Be relevant to broader concerns. Contribute to US foreign policy as related to development, work toward the greater good, and contribute to overall objectives.
- Learn budget, financial management, programming, and executive correspondence. These are critical skills, the vegetables that will make you strong.
- Work well in interdisciplinary teams. Translate skills and expertise to be relevant to others.
- Gain an expertise in a technical area. Be an expert and the "go-to" person. Read.
- Establish a network of "go-to" people. (FSNs, other FSOs, Exos, contacts in DC, etc.)
- Broaden contacts and establish relationships within the embassy, with the host country, and with business leaders and representatives.
- Exercise intellectual curiosity. Share the excitement of this field of work.
- Challenge oneself and take responsibility for difficult tasks.
- Take charge of your own career and direction. Only you will look out for your best interests.
- Seek mentors and mentor others.
- Don't assume the system works efficiently or should be the way in the previous place you worked. Understand the culture, build relationships, and improve things.
- Always be a diplomat, 24/7, in professional and personal affairs. Understand that responsibility.
- Don't succumb to inappropriate behavior, even if you see it around you (and not penalized).
- Don't lose sight of what you joined the Foreign Service to do.