Diplomat ... ? Watch

Franz Ferdinand
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What sort of academic background do you need in order to become a diplomat?

Also, does anyone know of the type of consultancy roles one can undertake for the UN/EU/UK Govt. etc?

Thanks,


Franz
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Nofer
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(Original post by Franz Ferdinand)
What sort of academic background do you need in order to become a diplomat?

Also, does anyone know of the type of consultancy roles one can undertake for the UN/EU/UK Govt. etc?

Thanks,


Franz
I am also considering becoming a diplomat or embasador myself. From what i have heard and found through a little research is that to become a diplomat you first need to get a degree or another form of third level qualification in any subject. Then you need to become a member of the foreign office and at some low admin stage and then work your way up.
The other route is something called "fast tracting" which is when you apply for a high job in the foreign office, but you will need to be at a very high standard like with a first class honour in a cambride degree.
However this is just a few things i have heard and I might be mistaken so I would advise you to speak with your schools careers adviser and visit the foreign office's website which i cant remeber so you'll have to search in google.
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*River
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The webisite is:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?...=1007029390554

Traditionally, arts graduates (eg History) are preferred over science ones.
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Franz Ferdinand
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So a 1st in say Politics and Int. Relations from a red-brick uni would be a good background? This followed by a Phd in Int. relations or something related would be ideal? (The doctorate having came from a Uni such as Edinburgh/LSE/Oxbridge?)
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Nofer
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(Original post by Franz Ferdinand)
So a 1st in say Politics and Int. Relations from a red-brick uni would be a good background? This followed by a Phd in Int. relations or something related would be ideal? (The doctorate having came from a Uni such as Edinburgh/LSE/Oxbridge?)
I think it is important to have a good educational background but i think you should also keep in mind that employers are also keen so other things such as personality, and want to see that you have keys skills such as working well with other people, because as you must know, being a diplomat is quite a social job and so a shy person with a cambridge 1st would in theory be equal to someone who left sussex with a 2-1 or 2-2 but was very enthusiatic and had very high socail skills.
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fonzievision
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The OBN at Oxbridge, LSE and the older/better unis is very important to get into politics
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lorrybeep
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think coming from a good uni with a relevant degree in international relation or politics with a good degree class will definitely help.

but to be a deplomat,networking is particularly relevant.
you need to know people who can give you a hand and recommend you to their seniors.
its very very important. Even if you have a 2:2 or a 3rd in a language degree doesnt matter at all as long as you have the pulls.
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classy_bird
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Usually an arts type degree and (in the US) they expect you to have done some work with the foreign service in a non diplomatic role...i.e. admin or security. Boyf is mad keen to be the US ambassador to somewhere lol
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Franz Ferdinand
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Well i'm hoping to attain a first or high 2.1 then do a Masters then Phd in international relations or diplomacy @ LSE/Oxbridge/Edinburgh/St. Andrews/Durham.

I currently work voluntarily for an MP but will soon be also working for an MSP. So have began the process of networking in political circles/getting experience in the political world.

Is mastering a foreign language essential or simply desirable?

Any other advice people can offer?

Thank-you for all the feedback so far.


Franz xxx
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*River
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I'd guess that mastering a foreign language would be desirable, but it's probably not the only trait they're looking for.
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phillipsm
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Entry into the Diplomatic Service is very competitive - and you will face stiff competition. Take these 2004 figures as an example:

- Ratio of applicants to vacancies: 80.6 [2,417 applicants for 30 vacancies];
- Overall success rate of applicants: 1.1% [i.e. 27 recommended for appointment].

(Original post by Nofer)
you need to become a member of the foreign office and at some low admin stage and then work your way up.
I would think it very unlikely for someone to start off in an A2 post (Diplomatic Service Executive Assistant), which requires no academic qualifications etc, to work their way up to becoming say, a Policy Officer in the Diplomatic Service (C4).

A C4 post is, as you later mention, only really available through the Faststream. You must have a degree (any discipline), 2:2 or above in order to apply. Although FCO does not favour one particular degree subject over other, I would suggest it somewhat obvious that fields such as IR are probably more welcomed than say Psychology! And I would also wonder, for example, how you might compete at an early stage against others who have a First Honours if you only have a 2.2.

C4 Selection Procedure is as follows:

C4 - Policy Officer, Diplomatic Service (Fast Stream)

These positions are recruited once a year. You should expect the selection procedure to last a minimum of twelve months.

Stage 1
An on-line self-assessment module which includes a 'realistic job preview' and verbal and numerical reasoning tests. These are designed to give prospective applicants some insight into life as a Policy Entrant and the standards required.

Stage 2
An on-line assessment stage, using tests to gauge candidates' verbal and numerical reasoning skills and a multiple-choice competency questionnaire.

Stage 3
A job-related electronic 'in-tray' exercise. These will take place under test conditions at regional centres around the country.

Stage 4
Attendance at a one-day Fast Stream Assessment Centre. Successful candidates will be given a mixture of written tests, group exercises and interviews.

Stage 5
A Final Selection Board interview. Successful candidates will also be asked to take a Language Aptitude Test to assess their ability to learn 'difficult' languages.

In addition to the above, candidates for the DS Economist scheme are required to take a specialist Economics Test before being invited to the Final Selection Board.

Stage 6
Before candidates can be offered a permanent position they will have to go through medical and security checks to make sure that they are suitable for this kind of work. All members of the Diplomatic Service must undergo security enquiries - known as developed vetting - to ensure that they have the right attitudes and temperament to handle sensitive work. Because the procedure has to be rigorous, it can take two months or more.
From what I have heard, experience is essential - volunteer with the UN, work for think-tanks, network and so forth. While fluency in another language is helpful (and they particularly favour harder languages such as Mandarin), there is no formal foreign language requirement - you must just be able to show that you have the ability to learn a foreign language later on in your career. This is assessed, as above, by a Language Aptitude Test. And while there are set academic requirements, there is natural intelligence to think of aswell - this is assessed significantly.

A profile of a successful Diplomatic Service 'Faststreamer' is available here: http://www.faststream.gov.uk/index.a...rrideDocID=121.

To an extent the OBN comes into play, and it never hurts to have references from any powers-that-be, but more emphasis is probably placed on what university you attended - which is probably an indicator of a potential network you might have, or might have in the future and, of course, of your academic merit, the intellectual challenges posed to you, the enviornment you worked in etc (i.e. your personality traits and how they fit into like-minded environments, e.g. Oxford vis-a-vis FCO?).

I would recommend visiting the website for the Civil Service Annual Recruitment Reports, available from the Cabinet Office website at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/reports/faststream/. Reports are available from 2000/1 onwards, and include analysis of recruitment by gender, ethnicity, disability and, in particular, an analysis by university (page 15 on the 2004/5 report at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/publ...tream_full.pdf) and analysis by degree type (page 18). They make for interesting reading - look under 'GFS' (General Faststream) for averages for the Diplomatic Service.

The FCO Recruitment website for the Diplomatic Service (Policy Officer) is available at http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?...=1007029394806.
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RxB
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ahahahahahaha it's ridiculously hard

I went to a talk from a guy from the Foreign Office about a year and a half ago, and questions about being a diplomat came up. Working for the Foreign Office is one thing, but actually getting through that and becoming a diplomat, or ambassador, is ridiculous. The calibre of people applying at first is really impressive. You'd be expected to learn a "hard" language (something like Thai) in about six months to be considered.
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Bismarck
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I know that to join the Foreign Service in the US, you have to pass a written test on American history (one in three pass) and an oral exam in which you're given real life scenarios (one in five pass), you must also have at least a Masters, and know a major foreign language. Becoming an ambassador requires decades of experience (or political connections).
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Maireleghra
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From what I know you can do paid work experience with the foreign office twice a year. My old teacher encouraged me to do it but you had to find your own accomation in London- too dear for me! The aforementioned teacher knew what he was on about though- one of the top guys in Trocaire and now works for either Unicef or the Northern Ireland Human Rights commission (can't remember which!). Anywho this guy met everyone from Yassar Araffat to the Pope. He said that if I was set on it languages were essential to A level and humanities subjects as a general rule. But you have to get into LSE, Oxford etc to even have been considered.
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phillipsm
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(Original post by Maireleghra)
From what I know you can do paid work experience with the foreign office twice a year. My old teacher encouraged me to do it but you had to find your own accomation in London- too dear for me! The aforementioned teacher knew what he was on about though- one of the top guys in Trocaire and now works for either Unicef or the Northern Ireland Human Rights commission (can't remember which!). Anywho this guy met everyone from Yassar Araffat to the Pope. He said that if I was set on it languages were essential to A level and humanities subjects as a general rule. But you have to get into LSE, Oxford etc to even have been considered.
Not quite. The FCO used to run two periods of Work Experience in their London office for 16/17 year olds seriously considering a career in the Diplomatic Service. These took place in the Autumn and Summer. The selection process involved a written essay as part of your application, a telephone interview and, quite obviously, security checks. FCO paid reasonable travel costs, and provided you with lunch. From what I know, this scheme is no longer running.

The Foreign Office also used to run an Overseas Undergraduate Attachment Scheme, or something along those lines. This also appears to have been discontinued - but you basically got sent to work/assist in a British embassy in a foreign country for the Summer, all expenses paid.

Unfortunately, the only scheme running now is the Economics Sandwich Students Placement Scheme: one year placements for two or three undergraduates, who are interested in working for the FCO. To be eligible to apply candidates need to be on courses with a substantial economics element. FCO stress that they do not run any other work experience or temporary work placement schemes, which is a shame.
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JakeR
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(Original post by classy_bird)
Usually an arts type degree and (in the US) they expect you to have done some work with the foreign service in a non diplomatic role...i.e. admin or security. Boyf is mad keen to be the US ambassador to somewhere lol
what do you mean a non-diplomatic role?


also, do you need to be a citizen to work for the embassy of a certain country?
for example, could I work in the Portuguese Embassy to Greece? or the Candadian Embassy to Mexico?
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Bismarck
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(Original post by JakeR)
what do you mean a non-diplomatic role?


also, do you need to be a citizen to work for the embassy of a certain country?
for example, could I work in the Portuguese Embassy to Greece? or the Candadian Embassy to Mexico?
To get any diplomatic post, you must be a citizen of that country.
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classy_bird
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(Original post by JakeR)
what do you mean a non-diplomatic role?


also, do you need to be a citizen to work for the embassy of a certain country?
for example, could I work in the Portuguese Embassy to Greece? or the Candadian Embassy to Mexico?
I mean a job where you aren't a diplomat. They have a range of support roles which I gather they look rather favourably on. Take a look at http://www.state.gov/employment/ for some job opps. I asked my bf about it and he's going to email another link to me which for the life of me I can't find on google.
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Bismarck
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(Original post by classy_bird)
I mean a job where you aren't a diplomat. They have a range of support roles which I gather they look rather favourably on. Take a look at http://www.state.gov/employment/ for some job opps. I asked my bf about it and he's going to email another link to me which for the life of me I can't find on google.
The foreign service doesn't only cover diplomats. The people who hand out visas, run the economic side of an embassy, talk to the press, etc. are all part of the foreign service.
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justanotherstud
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So I thought I was being silly when I typed 'becoming a diplomat' into Google and then I stumbled upon this very helpful conversation. How do you guys know all this??

With one year of my degree left to go, working for the Foreign Office is one of the things that has popped into my mind and I am trying to get as much info as possible. The FCO website is useful but doesn't have that much info about applying and who is eligible. If I am doing a PPP - Philosophy, Psychology and Physiology degree at Oxford, I am guessing the fast-track thing is out of the question for me... but how do I apply just to get my foot in the door? And when do I need to apply if I want to start working, say, next September (2006)? I know lots of languages, mostly Romance languages, and Greek but nothing too crazy so I would like to get in as high as I can. What do you suggest? Phillipsm, you seem to know a hell of a lot about all this,

Thanks.
e
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