You’ve decided that your calling is to become a Foreign Service Officer and that you’re willing to spend well over a year working to get a chance to earn one of the few open spots. Congratulations! You are a rare breed. In fact, you could be one of hundreds of FSO’s hired this year. There are many guides out there, but this is the most user friendly version.
Step 1: Read about foreign service officer life
Read the following books. If you can’t finish them, in my honest opinion, this isn’t the job for you.
- Inside a U.S. Embassy: Diplomacy at Work
- America’s Other Army
- Career Diplomacy
- Realities of Foreign Service Life
* Note: If you like this site, please use the links above to purchase the recommended books. They cost exactly the same with or without the affiliate link.
Step 2: Register to take the FSOT
The best way to study for the FSOT is to take the test. Its free, offered around the world, and will let you know what you need to study in order to pass the test. Those who took the test can’t tell you what is on it. It would be a big mistake to put off taking the test. In fact, register for next the FSOT right now. In addition, take the FSOT practice test to get an idea of your weak areas.
Step 3: Join MOOC’s that will prepare you for the FSOT
You wont be able to read all of the books on the State Departments recommended book list. It’s possible, but unlikely that you’ll do it. The list is more of a general guideline anyway. If you read everything on the list you’re probably not right for the job. An FSO needs to makes sense of a lot of information in a short amount of time. Once you know where your weakness lies, proceed by educating them away.
Find out which MOOC’s will prepare you for taking FSOT by browsing their course list.
Step 4: Register for the FSOT Forum
Everything you could imagine that you’ll ever need to know about the FSOT is on the Internet, but watch your time! The Yahoo FSOT Group can be an abyss of time if you let it. You don’t need to spend hours figuring out how many people passed, what their background is, what flavor ice cream they ate before the test, etc. It’s a waste of time. Focus on your goal – PASSING THE FSOT!
Step 5: Join a FSOT study group
Join a study group. However, make sure people show up on time. Also, use your field of expertise to teach others and vice versa. Study groups are great for revealing how much you really know about a subject. Its easy for you to convince yourself that you know about something. However, you’ll realize how little you know about anything once someone asks you a specific question about something you’ve just explained. The easiest way to join is to find people on the Yahoo FSOT Group Forum.
Step 6: Travel to become a better FSO candidate
I can’t think of a better way to become the ideal FSO candidate than to learn from travel.
Congratulations – You’re ready to take the test!
If you’ve made it this far, you deserve a shot at becoming an FSO. However, passing the test means you’ve completed the easiest part of the process. Now you’ll need to submit a personal narrative and wait for the Qualifications Evaluation Panel to review your file so that you can be cleared to take the Oral Assessment. Then you’ll need medical and security clearance. Finally, a Suitability Review Panel will look at your completed file so they can approve you to be added to the Register.
Still there? You’ve got amazing stamina. I’m impressed. You’re ready, if your particular FSO type is needed, to receive a job offer. Congratulations for making it this far, you’re one in a million!