How I Got This Job: Foreign Service Officer


Caroline Savage is a career Foreign Service Officer who served most recently as Director of the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Press Center.

As a non-resident fellow at Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, her focus is diverse diplomacy leadership in foreign affairs, a project she began during her tenure as Virginia and Dean Rusk Fellow at ISD from 2018-2019.Prior to Georgetown, she served as Public Affairs Officer at U.S. Embassies Azerbaijan and Mozambique. In Washington assignments, she was Director for Russia and Central Asia on the National Security Council and Political-Military Officer in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Russian Affairs. She also served previously in Belarus and Luxembourg. A native of Wisconsin, she graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, then received master’s degrees in Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her languages are French, Russian, Portuguese and Azerbaijani. She is currently in Kazakh language training for her next job as Consul General in Almaty, Kazakhstan, this summer.

Line of Work / Career Journey

The foreign service generalist track houses specialties in political, economic, public diplomacy management and consular cones. The traditional path is you sign up to be a Foreign Service Generalist, and you’re typically sent overseas to begin your career at one of the 270+ embassies or consulates around the world. The work you’ll be doing involves representing U.S. interests abroad, putting a human face on American interests and policy, and forging relationships with local people.

Savage spoke about her first two years on the job and the time she spent overseas in Luxembourg. She reflected on the large workload and political portfolio she managed, as well as the meetings and issues she tackled while there. Savage explained the series of tests one must take to get their foot in the door to do foreign service. After she passed her tests, there was still a long process to receive her health and security clearance, during which she completed her Master’s. As an undergrad, Savage studied abroad in Russia, taught, and secured as many internships as she could. Her main goal was to gain as much experience as she could in whatever form it was available to her.

Application and Hiring Process

The big components are the written exam and the qualitative evaluation panel to basically look at your resume and your written products and decide whether you’re invited to the oral exam. Therefore, the written and oral exam are the big components. If you pass those, then you have to go through the process of receiving your health and security clearance, which can take several years.

Skills / Experience / Advice

  • If you’re interested in joining the foreign service, take the written test sooner rather than later, because you may have a couple years, like I did, between taking the test and actually starting the career.
  • Be aware, engaged, and informed about what’s happening in the world.
  • Re-read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, so you know which amendments are which.
  • Sharpen your oral and written communication skills – be concise, clear, and compelling in your writing.
  • Be able to distinguish yourself professionally and experientially from other applicants in the oral exam and group sessions (leadership and collaboration skills).
  • Take practice exams, gain experience with local organizations such as the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, network with industry professionals in the Midwest.
  • If you don’t pass the Foreign Service Exam the first time, it’s no big deal. Savage knew several people who passed the 5th time or the 8th time

Websites and Resources

Industry Insights: Careers in Museums Recap

On Thursday, November 5, the Education, Nonprofit & Government Career Community at DePaul hosted a panel discussion with current professionals in the museum industry to speak about their roles and experiences working in museums. The panelists shared their journeys of how they ended up in this industry and provided some insights for students on how to break into the field. 

Panelists were asked questions around different themes, including overviews of their roles, recommended hard and soft skills to have for this industry, advice for students and alumni to break into the museum industry, and more. 

Our volunteer panelists included:

  • Madeline Shearer, Assistant Director of Institutional Relations at the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Lorien Yonker, Curatorial Associate for the Arts of Africa and Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium at the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Molly Butler, Marketing Coordinator at the Field Museum
  • Catherine Anchin, Acting Associate Director for Advancement and External Affairs at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC

How One of the Panelists Started Her Museum Journey

“When I was a senior in undergrad, I started reaching out to museum professionals whether on LinkedIn or email and just saying, “Hi I’m a student and I’m really interested in your job, do you mind chatting with me for half an hour?” That way you start to really build a network, because museum jobs are few and far between, especially now. The more relationships you have and connections you build can really give you a leg up when those decisions open up.”

Interested in setting up an informational interview? Check out this resource in our career library!

Important Advice for Succeeding and Advancing in Museum Roles

“Be prepared to advocate for yourself. In my experience, our work is quite a bit more fast paced than people imagine and we’re on from one project to the next continually. So, if you do get your foot in the door and want to advance, you really have to get comfortable putting yourself out there and advocating for yourself. I know that doesn’t always come naturally to people, myself included, so it’s something I really had to work at and practice in other areas of my life. That really served me well in advancing to the kind of position I was hoping to get.”

Check out the full recording of the event below!

This Week’s Hiring Trends: Education, Nonprofit and Government

Updated 8/5/2020

In the past week, we have seen trend updates in the Teaching & Instruction employment sectors. According to the most recent Emsi data in Illinois, the top companies posting jobs are Teach For America, VIPKID, and Ef Education First, Inc. The top three posted occupations are Postsecondary Teachers, Preschool Teachers, and Tutors/Instructors. The top three posted job titles are English Teachers, Early Childhood Special Education Teachers, and Tutors. If any of these types of occupations are of interest to you, consider using these as keywords to narrow down your job or internship search. The top three industries that are hiring according to Emsi are Administrative & Support, Educational Services, and Healthcare & Social Assistance. There are currently 1,267 K-12 Education jobs posted on Handshake alone!

Check out these active opportunities on Handshake: 

If you’re looking for a career in teaching and instruction, consider seeking opportunities that can broaden your hard skills to make you a competitive candidate. According to Emsi data, the top three hard skills for this industry are special education, preschool education, and language arts. Additional hard schools that appear frequently in job postings include lesson planning, online teaching, and curriculum development. Additionally, the top soft skills are teaching, mentorship communications, and leadership. If you want to learn how to highlight these types of skills on your resume or cover letter, make a career advising appointment today! 

Key Takeaways

  • The top hard skills for a career in education are communications, investigation, and detail oriented.
  • There are currently 1,267 K-12 Education jobs posted on Handshake!
  • The top three posted occupations within teaching and instruction industry in Illinois are Postsecondary Teachers, Preschool Teachers, and Tutors/Instructors.

Updated 7/24/2020

In the past week, we have seen trend updates in the Law Enforcement & Public Policy employment sectors. According to the most recent Emsi data in Illinois, the top companies posting jobs are Federal Bureau of Investigation, State of Illinois, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The top three posted occupations are Compliance Officers, Detectives and Criminal Investigators, and Private Detectives.The top three posted job titles are Special Agents, Regulatory Analysts, and Regulatory Specialists. If any of these types of occupations are of interest to you, consider using these as keywords to narrow down your job or internship search. The top two industries that are hiring according to Emsi are Public Administration and Manufacturing. There are currently 122 Legal & Law Enforcement jobs posted on Handshake alone.

Check out these active opportunities on Handshake: 

If you’re looking for a career in Law Enforcement, consider seeking opportunities that can broaden your hard skills to make you a competitive candidate. According to Emsi data, the top three hard skills for this industry are auditing, law enforcement, and Top Secret-Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI Clearance). Additionally, the top three soft skills are communications, investigation, and detail oriented. If you want to learn how to highlight these types of skills on your resume or cover letter, make a career advising appointment today! 

Key Takeaways

  • The top soft skills for a career in law enforcement are communications, investigation, and detail oriented.
  • There are currently 122 active Legal & Law Enforcement job postings on Handshake! 

Updated 7/17/2020

In the past week, we have seen trend updates in the Nonprofit & Fundraising employment sectors. According to the most recent EMSI data in Illinois, the top posted titles include Development Officers,Executive Directors, and Grants Managers. If any of these types of occupations are of interest to you, consider using these as keywords to narrow down your job or internship search. The top two industries that are hiring are Educational Services, Information, Health Care and Social Assistance. 

Of the postings reported on through Emsi, 100% require a bachelor’s degree, 28% require a master’s degree, and 1% require a Ph.D. or a professional degree. This information may be beneficial if you are considering grad school and/or a career in this field.

On Handshake starting 30 days ago, nonprofit is the second highest industry in terms of active job postings. There are 322 new jobs and 245 internships posted on Handshake alone.

Check out these active opportunities on Handshake: 

If you’re looking for a career in nonprofit and fundraising, consider emphasizing your soft skills to make you a competitive candidate. According to Emsi data, the top soft skills for these industries are communications, leadership, and management. If you want to learn how to highlight these types of skills on your resume or cover letter, make a career advising appointment today! 

Key Takeaways

  • The top soft skills for a career in fundraising are communications, leadership, and management
  • There are currently 567 active nonprofit job/internship postings on Handshake! 

Updated 7/2/2020

In the past week, we have seen updates regarding roles in the Museum & Cultural Institution sectors. According to the most recent EMSI data, in Illinois the top posted occupations include Librarians, Curators, Museum Technicians & Conservators, and Archivists. Additionally, some of the top posted job titles are College Facultys, Program Directors, and Technician Supervisors. If any of these occupations or titles are of interest to you, consider using these as keywords to narrow down your job or internship search. The top five industries that are hiring are Educational Services, Information, and Public Administration. 

Of the postings reported on through Emsi, 100% require a bachelor’s degree, 45% require a master’s degree, and 5% require a Ph.D. or a professional degree. This information may be beneficial if you are considering grad school and/or a career in this field.

On Handshake starting 30 days ago, nonprofit is the third highest industry in terms of active job postings. There are 273 new jobs and 239 internships posted on Handshake alone.

Check out these active opportunities on Handshake: 

If you’re looking for a career in Museums and Cultural Institutions, consider building your hard skills to make you a competitive candidate. According to Emsi data, the top hard skills for these industries are Collections, Library Science, and Cataloguing.If you are looking to build or already have these skills and want to learn how to highlight them on your resume or cover letter, make a career advising appointment today! 

Key Takeaways

  • The top hard skills for a career in Museums and Cultural Institutions are Collections, Library Science, and Cataloguing.
  • Employers within Museums and Cultural Institutions are looking for candidates to have hard skills in Collections, Library Science, and Cataloguing.
  • There are currently 512 active nonprofit job/internship postings on Handshake!

Updated 6/24/2020

In this past week, we have seen a few updates regarding the government and public policy job sectors. According to recent EMSI data, in Illinois the top posted occupations are

Compliance Officers, Urban and Regional Planners, Labor Relations Specialists, and Economists. Additionally, the top posted job titles are Actuarial Analysts, Regulatory Analysts, and Regulatory Specialists. If you are searching for a job or internship in these fields, try using those position titles/keywords to narrow your search. The top five industries that are hiring for these types of roles are Finance and Insurance, Professional, Scientific, & Technical Services, Manufacturing, Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services, and Public Administration.

On Handshake, Government – Local, State & Federal industry is in the top three for new jobs YTD. There are 2,089 new jobs posted on Handshake, which is a 38% increase from 2019. 

Check out these active postings on Handshake:

If you’re looking into a career in Government & Public Policy, it may be helpful to know the types of hard skills they might be looking for. The top three hard skills in the aforementioned types of occupations from EMSI have been Auditing, Statistics, and Underwriting. If you’re not sure how to convey those skills in a resume, cover letter, or interview, chat with one of our career advisors for guidance! 

Key Takeaways

  • Looking for a teaching job? Check out these organizations currently hiring: U.S. District Court, U.S. Government Accountability Office, and Inter-American Foundation
  • Employers in Teaching & Instruction are looking for these three hard skills: Auditing, Statistics, and Underwriting
  • There are currently 2,089 new job postings on Handshake alone!

 


Updated: 6/12/2020

Teaching & Instruction

In this past week, we have seen a few updates regarding the teaching and instruction job sectors. According to recent EMSI data, in Illinois the top posted occupations are Postsecondary Teachers and Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education. Additional top posted job titles are English Teachers, Tutors, Early Childhood Special Education Teachers, and Adjunct Faculty. If you are searching for a job or internship in these fields, try using those position titles/keywords to narrow your search. Additionally, the top three industries that are hiring for these types of roles are Administrative & Support and Waste Management & Remediation Services, Educational Services and Healthcare/Social Assistance. 

Handshake shows the top industry with active jobs as:

  • K-12 Education with 1481 jobs.
  • Basis Charter Schools, Distinctive Schools, and Urbana School District all have active job postings.

Check out these active postings on Handshake:


If you’re looking into a career in
Teaching & Instruction, it may be helpful to know the types of hard skills they might be looking for. The top three hard skills in the aforementioned types of postings from EMSI have been Special Education, Preschool Education, and Language Arts.

If you’re not sure how to convey those skills in a resume, cover letter, or interview, chat with one of our career advisors for guidance! 

Key Takeaways


  • Looking for a teaching job? Check out these organizations currently hiring: Basis Charter Schools, Distinctive Schools, and Urbana School District
  • Employers in Teaching & Instruction are looking for these three hard skills: Special Education, Preschool Education, and Language Arts
  • There are currently 1481 job postings for K-12 Education on Handshake alone!