One of the most important decisions anyone hoping to join the Foreign Service must make is which career track or cone to choose. You also have to decide very early on in the application process- when you register to take the FSOT!
For me, I had always found both Political and Public Diplomacy to be the most interesting and engaging of all five.The other career track choices are Consular, Management, and Economic. When I first heard about the State Department in high school, I imagined being a political officer directly impacting US policy in Europe. Once I spent my spring 2014 semester interning at the US Embassy in Vienna, Austria, I knew that public diplomacy would absolutely be my career track.
To be frank, PD makes all the other cones look boring to me. PD is such a fun mix of activities and engagement with the greater population in a foreign country- basically why I want to become a diplomat to begin with. During my internship in Vienna I had so much fun helping organize the Embassy youth council Today’s Voices, translating media reports into English, and attending amazing events and speakers. I can’t believe someone would actually pay me to plan meaningful events, analyze news developments abroad, serve on cultural exchange committees, and speak to foreign high school students about American culture.
This semester at Rice I’m lucky enough to be involved in a public diplomacy research program as part of the Baker Institute for Public Policy. I’m taking a class called Public Diplomacy and Global Policymaking, which travels to Doha, Qatar for a student forum on public diplomacy topics in US-Qatar relations. I’m already geeking out with excitement over researching Qatari politics and how public diplomacy fits in to US policy in Qatar and the Gulf region. You can read more about the program here: http://bakerinstitute.org/public-diplomacy
It’s for reasons like this that it was really no question that I’d pursue public diplomacy as my career track. It didn’t hurt that I also had amazing mentors at the Embassy and got to work personally for the Cultural Attache- a job that I’d absolutely love to have someday, maybe even in Berlin or Vienna!