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    Hi,

    I've applied for the Civil Service Fast Stream, put the Diplomatic Service as my first choice and will take the e tray exam at the end of January. As it is very competitive to get in, I would like to be sure it is really the career for me, so I can really focus my efforts on preparing for it.
    I would therefore be very grateful for comments from current fast streamers or anyone working for the FCO especially about the following:

    1. With Spanish as my second language (I also have French and German as third and fourth), would I get opportunities to live and work in Latin America?
    2. I am aware that it is sometimes required to live in more unstable countries, so I'd like to be sure that the living conditions and security would be good for myself and my wife.
    3. I would also like more information on salaries
    4. My degree is in Modern Languages and I have a Masters in Chilean and Spanish American Literature. I am wondering if any further study would be useful, for example something in International studies/relations or environmental management

    All ideas/comments on the above plus your own experiences will be appreciated
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    (Original post by petepozner)
    Hi,

    I've applied for the Civil Service Fast Stream, put the Diplomatic Service as my first choice and will take the e tray exam at the end of January. As it is very competitive to get in, I would like to be sure it is really the career for me, so I can really focus my efforts on preparing for it.
    I would therefore be very grateful for comments from current fast streamers or anyone working for the FCO especially about the following:

    1. With Spanish as my second language (I also have French and German as third and fourth), would I get opportunities to live and work in Latin America?
    2. I am aware that it is sometimes required to live in more unstable countries, so I'd like to be sure that the living conditions and security would be good for myself and my wife.
    3. I would also like more information on salaries
    4. My degree is in Modern Languages and I have a Masters in Chilean and Spanish American Literature. I am wondering if any further study would be useful, for example something in International studies/relations or environmental management

    All ideas/comments on the above plus your own experiences will be appreciated
    Hi Pete. I did an internship in the FCO and had a lot of these questions answered.

    I will answer your first two questions together. You aren't generally just 'sent' to countries. Opportunities become available and you apply for them. If you have a particular interest in Latin America, you can apply for posts there. It's not compulsory to take posts in unstable countries. Particularly unstable ones will not usually be a 3 year post but a short one (6 months, for example) and your family doesn't accompany you. As I said, you are under absolutely no obligation to go to such countries - I imagine that those with families generally try to avoid it!

    In terms of salaries, there is (and I think this applies across the Civil Service) a graded salary scale. When you enter the FCO you are band C4, which I believe is somewhere around £27,000. There is then C5, D6, D7 and then Senior Management. Pay goes up accordingly. I think the idea is that after 3-5 years you ought to be in band D. D6 is roughly equivalent to Grade 7 and D7 is roughly equivalent to Grade 6, as found here: http://data.equalities.gov.uk/salary-information.aspx

    As the only way into the FCO externally at the moment is the Fast Stream, an extra degree will be of no advantage. The Final Selection Board is more about your ability to interact with people; not your qualifications.

    Hope this helps!
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    (Original post by sunburnt_note)
    Hi Pete. I did an internship in the FCO and had a lot of these questions answered.

    I will answer your first two questions together. You aren't generally just 'sent' to countries. Opportunities become available and you apply for them. If you have a particular interest in Latin America, you can apply for posts there. It's not compulsory to take posts in unstable countries. Particularly unstable ones will not usually be a 3 year post but a short one (6 months, for example) and your family doesn't accompany you. As I said, you are under absolutely no obligation to go to such countries - I imagine that those with families generally try to avoid it!

    In terms of salaries, there is (and I think this applies across the Civil Service) a graded salary scale. When you enter the FCO you are band C4, which I believe is somewhere around £27,000. There is then C5, D6, D7 and then Senior Management. Pay goes up accordingly. I think the idea is that after 3-5 years you ought to be in band D. D6 is roughly equivalent to Grade 7 and D7 is roughly equivalent to Grade 6, as found here: http://data.equalities.gov.uk/salary-information.aspx

    As the only way into the FCO externally at the moment is the Fast Stream, an extra degree will be of no advantage. The Final Selection Board is more about your ability to interact with people; not your qualifications.

    Hope this helps!

    Hi,

    do you mind telling us a bit about your internship at the FCO? how was it? what did you get up to etc?

    Also did you get the internship through the summer diversity internship programme or the FCO future talent .. or ?

    thanks
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    (Original post by petepozner)
    Hi,

    I've applied for the Civil Service Fast Stream, put the Diplomatic Service as my first choice and will take the e tray exam at the end of January. As it is very competitive to get in, I would like to be sure it is really the career for me, so I can really focus my efforts on preparing for it.
    I would therefore be very grateful for comments from current fast streamers or anyone working for the FCO especially about the following:

    1. With Spanish as my second language (I also have French and German as third and fourth), would I get opportunities to live and work in Latin America?
    2. I am aware that it is sometimes required to live in more unstable countries, so I'd like to be sure that the living conditions and security would be good for myself and my wife.
    3. I would also like more information on salaries
    4. My degree is in Modern Languages and I have a Masters in Chilean and Spanish American Literature. I am wondering if any further study would be useful, for example something in International studies/relations or environmental management

    All ideas/comments on the above plus your own experiences will be appreciated
    My boyfriend is in the Diplomatic Service, so I know the answers to some of these questions! As Sunburnt said, you are not sent anywhere until you are quite senior (when you may be pushed towards a particular ambassador posting). So you would be able to apply for postings that would use your languages if you want to.

    In the most dangerous postings (currently places like Iraq and Afghanistan), you can't take partners. Some less dangerous places you can take partners but not children. You don't get sent there, you'd have to apply. In other postings, living conditions are usually very good.

    A C4 starting salary is around £27,000, and the civil service will get a 1% pay rise this year. Pay is largely frozen, so you are unlikely to get a pay rise until you get promoted. Generally, this is not for the first five years. You are entitled to some allowances though - London weighting when at home, and others when you are abroad.

    Unfortunately, languages don't actually help you get into the DS - they are not tested when you apply. The key focus at application stage is on civil service core competencies, so I wouldn't worry about further study.
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    So can you not take children to any posts abroad? If not, I assume either one parent stays behind with the children or they go to a boarding school. I wonder what impact this has on family life...
    So how does your boy friend find it as a profession? What are the pros and cons?
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    Sorry if that was unclear. You can, but not to certain, more dangerous postings. Lots of people take their families with. However, the FCO does also help with some education costs because children get moved around.

    It is tough for family life - my boyfriend is now in first international posting. I love my job here (London) so that's difficult.

    He really enjoys the work. This is his third year, and he's had three quite different but all interesting jobs so far. I think the biggest cons are probably the disruption to family/ social lives and the general bureaucracy. The hours can be long, and civil servants don't get some private sector perks (big Christmas parties for example). But the work is really interesting and it's an amazing opportunity.
 
 
 
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