How to become a diplomat

How to become a diplomat

Curious how to impress with international hospitality and diplomacy skills? Kickstart your international career!

Many skills are essential every day for the job/industry you work within during office hours but let’s not overlook those other essential skills needed outside your normal working hours; such as multilateral diplomacy skills, refined hospitality skills as well as empathy. Here we are talking about the commonly known skills of top diplomats.

How exactly do you become a Diplomat and what does a Diplomat do?

The list of what a Diplomat does is long but let’s start with eliminating some misconceptions. Multilateral diplomatic activities go way beyond flying around the world in first class, negotiating at meetings, attending wine & cheese parties, classic concerts and hosting receptions.

Diplomats represent their state through their refined skills, values and behaviours 24/7. They need to have the knowledge and skills that are necessary to effectively represent their country inside and outside of their direct job-related functions. They need to be ‘fluent’ not only in various languages but also in their intercultural hospitality, formal cultural and religious etiquette skills as well as dining etiquette.

The service-oriented ‘new diplomat’ is flexible, open minded and can communicate effectively with a wide range of state and non-state counterparts, possessing strong sustainable leadership skills.

How to become a diplomat? What are the most important skills and behaviours to be a diplomat?

· strong analytical skills

· communicate effectively, both in writing and orally, with tact and diplomacy

· speak foreign language(s)

· intercultural networking skills; culture-specific/international faux-pas

· exceptional social skills

Don’t miss UCCs next blog on How do you develop diplomacy skills? How do you communicate with tact and diplomacy?

Finding the ‘right’ career path that matches your profile, education, skills and competencies, can lead to a fulfilling career where you get the chance to leave an important impact on the world. It means working with people from all over the world, getting to know different cultures and strengthening your multicultural team working skills while working on a good cause for human mankind and our planet.

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Or Connect with one of our UN insiders via a 45min video call and learn from those that have applied, interviewed and secured UN system roles.

Being a diplomat and representing your country is not just a profession, in fact, if you:

  • Advocate for international issues;
  • Travel abroad;
  • Host people from other countries in your home, workplace, school, or community;
  • Use social media; or
  • Have a passport…

You are a citizen diplomat!

The U.S. Department of State is not the only organization involved in the world of diplomacy. There are many ways individuals can become a part of international relations as well.

Citizen Diplomacy is the concept that the individual has the right to help shape U.S. foreign relations “one handshake at a time.” Citizen diplomats can be students, teachers, athletes, artists, business people, humanitarians, adventurers, or tourists. They are motivated by a desire to engage with the rest of the world in a meaningful, mutually beneficial dialogue.

How to become a diplomat

How to Become a Citizen Diplomat

1) Learn a language, get a passport, and go overseas

By traveling overseas, you are like a diplomat. You are representing the United States and are sometimes the first interaction someone overseas has with our nation. Often, the first impression of a nation comes from its people, and that could be you! . Your behaviors and interactions offer impressions of what your home country is like.

2) Use social media

Social media is a modern-day tool that can be used to represent your nation as well as a platform to advocate for international issues you feel strongly about. It is an outlet for you to share your voice, culture, and community with the world.

Modern technology provides access to the world in a way never seen before. The ability to access information in seconds allows the world to stay interconnected. You can contribute to this by:

  • Posting pictures and videos of your hometown
  • Sharing your traditions
  • Following those in other countries and connecting with them
  • Using social media as a tool to learn more about other cultures
  • Staying updated on global issues and advocating for them on your profiles

3) Read the newspaper

Become informed about the world and what’s happening in it. The relations between countries encompass political trends, economic ties, cultural exchanges, and visitors crossing borders. Knowing these current events helps you interact knowledgeably with others and learn what needs to be addressed.

4) Write to your representative or contact the State Department

Is there an international issue that you feel strongly about? Do you agree with how the issue is being handled? If not, write your Representative or Senators to share your thoughts on our nation’s foreign policy. Or share your thoughts by contacting the Department of State. You can also join a non-governmental organization that promotes an international cause you believe in.

How to Become a Student Diplomat

1) Exchange Programs

Immerse yourself in another language and culture and become an exchange student. Learn more at [email protected]

2) Internships & Fellowships

The State Department offers a variety of student programs in Washington D.C. and abroad in our embassies and consulates. These experiences offer students a unique perspective on diplomacy in action and what a career in the foreign or civil service looks like. Learn more about internships and fellowships.

How to Become a Professional Diplomat

The above-mentioned list describes ways to become involved in our international community and serve as a citizen diplomat. Want more? Become a career diplomat and work with the U.S. Department of State.

1) Become a Foreign Service Officer

The mission of a U.S. diplomat in the Foreign Service is to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad.

Any high school graduate at least 20 years of age is eligible to become a Foreign Service Officer. But first, you must pass the Foreign Service Officer Test.

2) Find a Specialist Position

The U.S. Department of State offers career opportunities to professionals in specialized functions needed to meet Foreign Service responsibilities around the world. Specialists provide important technical, management, healthcare, or administrative services.

Find out more about becoming a Foreign Service Specialist here

3) Join the Civil Service

The civil service includes employees located in Washington, D.C. or other cities throughout the United States who help to drive diplomatic principles and initiatives worldwide.

Find out more about a career as a civil servant here

If a person is passionate about international politics and travel, they might be a good fit for a diplomat. This position involves representing the interests of a state around the world and engaging in dialogues and negotiation with other political representatives. How does a person become a diplomat?

What do diplomats do exactly?

The first step to becoming a diplomat is knowing what responsibilities come with the position. Depending on where you’re from, diplomats can be divided into different paths with varying tasks. As an example, one type of diplomat might be focused on human rights and humanitarian concerns, while another is focused on economics. In the United States, there are five different paths for diplomats: consular officers, political officers, economic officers, management officers, and public diplomacy officers.

Consular officers – This position helps evacuate Americans from other countries, facilitates adoptions, and addresses identity fraud and human trafficking.

Political officers – A political officer monitors their host country’s political activity and negotiates with government officials.

Economic officers – This position works with NGOs, foreign governments, and international businesses on a variety of policies, such as economic, environmental, and technology policies.

Management officers – This type of officer is in leadership and responsible for embassy operations, including budgeting and security.

Public diplomacy officers – This position works with academics, think tanks, government officials, and others in order to promote their state’s interests and build up support.

Within the diplomat career field, there is also a ranking system. According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, ambassadors are the top diplomat and head of the embassy. Positions beneath the ambassador include envoys, special envoys, ministers, chargé d’affaires, and so on. The names can vary slightly depending on the state.

A diplomat’s career path

No matter what country you’re from, you will need to receive a solid education if you want to be a diplomat. The first step is to get a bachelor’s degree. Good majors include political science, economics, sociology, international relations, history, and anthropology. While going to college, anything you can do to build up your knowledge of foreign affairs will serve you well in the future, so read newspapers, online journals, and so on. It’s also wise to study foreign languages, especially the language of the area where you are most interested in serving in the future. You are not guaranteed to be placed in your dream country, of course, so studying a few languages is smart.

After a bachelor’s degree, you should pursue a graduate degree. Research schools carefully because there are many places that offer programs in foreign affairs and other relevant subjects. You should be sure the program also offers opportunities for internships and other resources since experience outside the classroom is very important.

What skills should a diplomat possess?

While getting your degrees and gaining experience, there are certain skills you should focus on. The US Department of State actually lists thirteen specific skills they’re looking for in a good candidate. No matter where you’re from, it’s important to keep the following general skills in mind:

Negotiation– Diplomacy requires a lot of negotiating, so a good diplomat will have excellent persuasion and debating skills, but they’ll also be able to listen and compromise when necessary.

Team management – Diplomats are part of teams representing their states, so being able to work with others (and lead, if that’s part of the job) is essential to success.

Cultural awareness– Diplomats work in other countries, so being aware of cultural differences and similarities is crucial. Having respect and understanding helps ensure successful negotiations and projects.

Research and analysis – Depending on the specific position, a diplomat’s job can involve a lot of research and analysis of data, such as political and economic trends. A good diplomat is able to understand what’s going on and solve problems.

Foreign language – Most diplomats know at least two languages. The more languages a diplomat knows, the better for their career. Even if they aren’t fluent in a language, they are able to learn and improve when necessary.

Written communication – To be professional and credible, a diplomat needs excellent written communication skills. A good diplomat’s writing is clear, thorough, mechanically-correct, and persuasive, when necessary.

Becoming a diplomat

When you get your degrees and experience, how do you actually become a diplomat? The process varies depending on where you’re from, but there will be multiple steps and vigorous evaluation. Diplomats represent their states’ interests around the world, so the state wants only the most qualified candidates. In the United States, the application process includes an online application, an in-person interview, extensive evaluation, a medical exam, and a background check and security clearance. While applying, a candidate must also choose a specific career track from one of the five options. The Foreign Service exam consists of a written test, negotiating exercise, and an oral interview. Once an applicant has passed the final review, their names are put on a register that ranks candidates. They are hired as needed.

Why become a diplomat?

A diplomat gets a very unique and rewarding look at how the world works. They are able to experience other countries and cultures in a way most people can’t. While diplomats can be placed in dangerous areas, they are usually treated with respect by both their own state and their host. Best of all, a diplomat is in a position to help make the world a more just and equal place.

Take a free course on Diplomacy, Human Rights or International Relations to learn more.

About Author

Global Peace Careers is a website dedicated to career related information in the sectors humanitarian aid and action, international development, peace and conflict studies, negotiation, conflict resolution, diplomacy and international law. On our website we collect and distribute information about entry level jobs, paid internships, affordable master degrees, free online courses and other opportunities.

‘Always start a speech with a quote from Leon Trotsky.’ Tim Cole, Britain’s representative in Cuba, tells budding diplomats what not to do

Tim Cole: ‘The real skill for a diplomat overseas is to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and read between the (normally blurred) lines.’ Photograph: Tim Cole

Tim Cole: ‘The real skill for a diplomat overseas is to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and read between the (normally blurred) lines.’ Photograph: Tim Cole

Last modified on Wed 20 Sep 2017 18.12 BST

Tell us a bit about your job

I represent the British government in Cuba. This involves, among other things, helping British companies invest, ensuring the embassy provides an excellent consular service to British tourists and residents, trying to persuade the Cuban government to agree with us on burning international issues, celebrating British culture and working with the Cuban health authorities to send doctors to help fight Ebola in Sierra Leone. Of course, I don’t do all this myself: I’ve got a great team that works really hard. But I do try to meet as many Cubans as possible, either face-to-face or through social media, and tell them about the UK – what we stand for, what we believe in, what makes the UK special.

What qualifications do you need to do your job?

No formal qualifications are required but ambassadors do need to be able to speak the language of the country they work in. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides training and has just reopened its excellent language centre. I spoke French before joining the FCO 13 years ago, having worked for Christian Aid and Save the Children in francophone Africa. I’ve learned Portuguese (for Mozambique) and Spanish (for Cuba) since I joined the FCO. Thankfully, Latin has not been a requirement for a couple of decades.

What other skills and experience would help someone to do your job?

Like all civil servants, diplomats need to demonstrate the civil service competences: leadership, people management skills, the ability to work at pace and deliver to a high standard, communication skills, judgment, resilience. All of these are important, as is a good sense of the political context both at home and abroad. A good sense of humour helps, too.

But the real skill for a diplomat overseas is to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, understand their perspective, read between the (normally blurred) lines, spot and tackle the flaws in their argument, identify shared interests, common ground and any policy implications – and then relay all this back to the department in London in a short email.

If you were looking for your replacement, how could someone stand out in the interview?

Christopher Meyer, ex UK ambassador in Washington DC, once suggested a good diplomat needs “a quick mind, a hard head, a strong stomach, a warm smile and a cold eye”. Demonstrate in an interview that you’ve got the lot and you should be in with a shout.

What do you wish you’d known when you started your career?

I knew a lot about Africa when I joined the FCO, because I’d spent many years there as a teacher and aid worker and studied politics and economics at university. But I wish I’d known a lot more about everything else. In my job I meet a huge number of people and have conversations about everything from turtle smuggling to debt financing, counter narcotics to Isis, the Beatles (who are still very big in Cuba) to Opec oil pricing policy. So having a wide and deep general knowledge helps.

What is the worst advice you’ve ever received?

  1. Sir Henry Wotton, a 16 th -century diplomat, is reputed to have said that “an ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for his country”. Not in my experience. Telling the truth gains people’s confidence and builds a relationship of trust.
  2. “Always start a speech with a quote from Leon Trotsky.” Need I say more?

Sign up for your free weekly Guardian Public Leaders newsletter with news and analysis sent direct to you every Thursday. Follow us on Twitter via @Guardianpublic

Diplomats or foreign service officers (FSOs) work in countries across the globe to assist citizens and further their countries interests and policies abroad. Depending on the career track, diplomats may work in consular services, economic interests, management, politics, or public diplomacy. Foreign service offices employ individuals with all different backgrounds and expertise because they need FSOs who are flexible, creative, and adaptable. Foreign service positions are generally short-term, with assignments ranging from months to several years, but the one constant in diplomatic work is that FSOs must be able to adapt quickly and assess the priorities of a situation or project. While the job may not be as glamorous as it’s made out to be in movies and TV, FSOs have the opportunities to live abroad in a variety of countries and situations and get hands-on experience with new cultures, people, and societies. Foreign service isn’t for everyone, but for hard-working, motivated individuals with a desire to live and travel abroad, diplomatic employment is an exciting option. If you think that a career as a foreign service officer is right for you, here’s how to prepare for a job in foreign service.

How to become a diplomat

1. It depends on your homeland
The track to diplomatic careers differs depending on where you call home, but in most countries, foreign service officers, or their equivalent, are subject to similar requirements. Many countries require FSOs to be citizens of the country they will be representing. In the US, FSOs must be between the ages of 20 and 59 to qualify for service. But in general, countries are looking for FSOs with diverse skills, qualifications, and personal aptitude because each position is unique and presents its own challenges. Diplomats work on projects related to everything from sporting events to disease outbreaks, education initiatives, and peacekeeping. There is no one skill-set needed for diplomacy, but a willingness to listen and understand situations is a must.

2. Some degrees give you an upper hand
In the US, diplomats hold a variety of education levels ranging from high school diplomas to PhDs, and in the US, the UK, and other countries the first step to qualifying for a diplomatic career is passing a general aptitude test. These exams normally assess a candidate’s overall knowledge, so it’s important that prospective FSOs brush up on things like mathematics, reading comprehension, and logic. But a solid foundation from a degree in history, politics, law, or human rights will be a plus. Most foreign service offices also recommend that applicants be well-read and informed on current events, government, and international politics – essentially, if you’re serious about a diplomatic career, you should be reading a lot of newspapers.

How to become a diplomat

3. Brush up your language skills
In the US, foreign language proficiency is not required for a diplomatic position because all successful applicants receive language training before their first post. However, fluency in a second or third language, as well as international experiences, will help your application stand out. Languages like Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu are in high demand, but it’s more important to have strong written and spoken communication skills in your own language. After candidates have passed the entrance exam, most foreign service offices subject applicants to rigorous interviews and assessments aimed at identifying individual strengths and suitability.

4. Prepare for challenges. and competition
Foreign service is a challenging career. FSOs are always moving, which means that staying in touch with loved ones can be tricky, and for officers with families, the position can be taxing. But that doesn’t mean that foreign service is an unpopular career, and most foreign service offices have a large pool of new FSOs waiting for deployment as well as an established rank of officers, all of whom are competing for the choice assignments around the world. Placements are often given out based on rank, and new recruits should expect their first assignments to be in areas or regions that are more challenging than others. Successful FSOs learn to make the best out of tricky situations, know when to ask for favors, and work hard to succeed.

Diplomats or foreign service officers (FSOs) work in countries across the globe to assist citizens and further their countries interests and policies abroad. Depending on the career track, diplomats may work in consular services, economic interests, management, politics, or public diplomacy. Foreign service offices employ individuals with all different backgrounds and expertise because they need FSOs who are flexible, creative, and adaptable. Foreign service positions are generally short-term, with assignments ranging from months to several years, but the one constant in diplomatic work is that FSOs must be able to adapt quickly and assess the priorities of a situation or project. While the job may not be as glamorous as it’s made out to be in movies and TV, FSOs have the opportunities to live abroad in a variety of countries and situations and get hands-on experience with new cultures, people, and societies. Foreign service isn’t for everyone, but for hard-working, motivated individuals with a desire to live and travel abroad, diplomatic employment is an exciting option. If you think that a career as a foreign service officer is right for you, here’s how to prepare for a job in foreign service.

How to become a diplomat

1. It depends on your homeland
The track to diplomatic careers differs depending on where you call home, but in most countries, foreign service officers, or their equivalent, are subject to similar requirements. Many countries require FSOs to be citizens of the country they will be representing. In the US, FSOs must be between the ages of 20 and 59 to qualify for service. But in general, countries are looking for FSOs with diverse skills, qualifications, and personal aptitude because each position is unique and presents its own challenges. Diplomats work on projects related to everything from sporting events to disease outbreaks, education initiatives, and peacekeeping. There is no one skill-set needed for diplomacy, but a willingness to listen and understand situations is a must.

2. Some degrees give you an upper hand
In the US, diplomats hold a variety of education levels ranging from high school diplomas to PhDs, and in the US, the UK, and other countries the first step to qualifying for a diplomatic career is passing a general aptitude test. These exams normally assess a candidate’s overall knowledge, so it’s important that prospective FSOs brush up on things like mathematics, reading comprehension, and logic. But a solid foundation from a degree in history, politics, law, or human rights will be a plus. Most foreign service offices also recommend that applicants be well-read and informed on current events, government, and international politics – essentially, if you’re serious about a diplomatic career, you should be reading a lot of newspapers.

How to become a diplomat

3. Brush up your language skills
In the US, foreign language proficiency is not required for a diplomatic position because all successful applicants receive language training before their first post. However, fluency in a second or third language, as well as international experiences, will help your application stand out. Languages like Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu are in high demand, but it’s more important to have strong written and spoken communication skills in your own language. After candidates have passed the entrance exam, most foreign service offices subject applicants to rigorous interviews and assessments aimed at identifying individual strengths and suitability.

4. Prepare for challenges. and competition
Foreign service is a challenging career. FSOs are always moving, which means that staying in touch with loved ones can be tricky, and for officers with families, the position can be taxing. But that doesn’t mean that foreign service is an unpopular career, and most foreign service offices have a large pool of new FSOs waiting for deployment as well as an established rank of officers, all of whom are competing for the choice assignments around the world. Placements are often given out based on rank, and new recruits should expect their first assignments to be in areas or regions that are more challenging than others. Successful FSOs learn to make the best out of tricky situations, know when to ask for favors, and work hard to succeed.

‘Always start a speech with a quote from Leon Trotsky.’ Tim Cole, Britain’s representative in Cuba, tells budding diplomats what not to do

Tim Cole: ‘The real skill for a diplomat overseas is to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and read between the (normally blurred) lines.’ Photograph: Tim Cole

Tim Cole: ‘The real skill for a diplomat overseas is to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and read between the (normally blurred) lines.’ Photograph: Tim Cole

Last modified on Wed 20 Sep 2017 18.12 BST

Tell us a bit about your job

I represent the British government in Cuba. This involves, among other things, helping British companies invest, ensuring the embassy provides an excellent consular service to British tourists and residents, trying to persuade the Cuban government to agree with us on burning international issues, celebrating British culture and working with the Cuban health authorities to send doctors to help fight Ebola in Sierra Leone. Of course, I don’t do all this myself: I’ve got a great team that works really hard. But I do try to meet as many Cubans as possible, either face-to-face or through social media, and tell them about the UK – what we stand for, what we believe in, what makes the UK special.

What qualifications do you need to do your job?

No formal qualifications are required but ambassadors do need to be able to speak the language of the country they work in. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides training and has just reopened its excellent language centre. I spoke French before joining the FCO 13 years ago, having worked for Christian Aid and Save the Children in francophone Africa. I’ve learned Portuguese (for Mozambique) and Spanish (for Cuba) since I joined the FCO. Thankfully, Latin has not been a requirement for a couple of decades.

What other skills and experience would help someone to do your job?

Like all civil servants, diplomats need to demonstrate the civil service competences: leadership, people management skills, the ability to work at pace and deliver to a high standard, communication skills, judgment, resilience. All of these are important, as is a good sense of the political context both at home and abroad. A good sense of humour helps, too.

But the real skill for a diplomat overseas is to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, understand their perspective, read between the (normally blurred) lines, spot and tackle the flaws in their argument, identify shared interests, common ground and any policy implications – and then relay all this back to the department in London in a short email.

If you were looking for your replacement, how could someone stand out in the interview?

Christopher Meyer, ex UK ambassador in Washington DC, once suggested a good diplomat needs “a quick mind, a hard head, a strong stomach, a warm smile and a cold eye”. Demonstrate in an interview that you’ve got the lot and you should be in with a shout.

What do you wish you’d known when you started your career?

I knew a lot about Africa when I joined the FCO, because I’d spent many years there as a teacher and aid worker and studied politics and economics at university. But I wish I’d known a lot more about everything else. In my job I meet a huge number of people and have conversations about everything from turtle smuggling to debt financing, counter narcotics to Isis, the Beatles (who are still very big in Cuba) to Opec oil pricing policy. So having a wide and deep general knowledge helps.

What is the worst advice you’ve ever received?

  1. Sir Henry Wotton, a 16 th -century diplomat, is reputed to have said that “an ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for his country”. Not in my experience. Telling the truth gains people’s confidence and builds a relationship of trust.
  2. “Always start a speech with a quote from Leon Trotsky.” Need I say more?

Sign up for your free weekly Guardian Public Leaders newsletter with news and analysis sent direct to you every Thursday. Follow us on Twitter via @Guardianpublic

Diplomat Qualifications

A Diplomat must be an AMCP member who has a sense of volunteerism to further the mission of AMCP with the schools/colleges of pharmacy. The Diplomat will exhibit excellent leadership skills to develop, educate and foster schools/colleges of pharmacy into a positive relationship with AMCP at the local level. The ideal Diplomat must have a commitment to AMCP and student pharmacists. Strong communication skills and regular follow-up are key factors to being successful and achieving the goal to increase awareness and activity at the respective school/college of pharmacy.

The Diplomat will help create a greater understanding and appreciation of managed care pharmacy among students and faculty members; develop opportunities to facilitate the incorporation of managed care pharmacy concepts into curricula; and engage AMCP student by serving as a liaison between the chapters/Universities, local AMCP members and the Academy.

Diplomat Appointment and Term

AMCP members who wish to volunteer to serve as the Diplomat for a specific school/college of pharmacy, preferably located in the area of their residence, may apply online. This link provides a list of Schools of Pharmacy that currently have no AMCP Diplomat assigned. If the school being requested is not listed, a Diplomat has already been assigned; however, there may be an opportunity for a Co-Diplomat.

Once the request is received staff will review and notify the AMCP member of their appointment and forward tools to assist the Diplomat.

The Diplomat will serve in this role until such time that s/he is no longer able to or it is determined that the Diplomat has not fulfilled the minimum duty requirements. In addition, each year diplomats will be asked to re-confirm their commitment as a diplomat via email. The confirmation email will allow diplomats to “opt-in” or “opt-out” of serving another year. For those schools with academy members awaiting diplomat positions OR Co-Diplomats for consecutive years, the academy may include this information in the email as well to better inform their decisions. Those choosing to “opt-out” will be encouraged to provide transitional support to the incoming diplomat