Dreams of A Diplomat: From Candidate to Student

by Just Juan
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“You all are the future of American diplomacy. I encourage you to go forth, do great things and represent yourselves, the Department and the nation accordingly.” – Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun

Yesterday, I completed the 158-204 Foreign Service Orientation course. It was an incredible 4-week crash course into what it means to be a diplomat in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State. I learned so much about this unique career and even more unique lifestyle. I really enjoyed learning alongside the other specialists as well as the generalists because it gave me great insight into what the other diplomats do on a day-to-day basis. I truly feel like the Foreign Service is where I was always supposed to be. Everything has been so smooth, so easy. I’ve never felt as comfortable with engaging with colleagues as I have during my month in the Foreign Service…and that’s saying a lot because I had a fantastic relationship with my people back in the Branch of Building Operations at the Department of the Interior.

After the Director General of the Foreign Service spoke to us, we got some words of advice and encouragement from the Deputy Secretary of State who also swore us into the Department of State. Of course, I was officially sworn-in on Day 1 of Orientation so today was simply a ceremonial swearing-in by a Cabinet-level official in a virtual ceremony. I was able to capture the moment in a screenshot but totally FML for having the mirror setting activated on my Zoom settings.

Anyway, Foreign Service Orientation is done. I’ve graduated from being a Foreign Service Candidate and now I’m a Foreign Service Student. On Tuesday, I start formal training with the tradecraft course for Foreign Service Facility Managers. That’s the first piece of the training puzzle for me which will also include security and counterterrorism training as well as language training. I’m ready to get started.

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