I Want To Work In … the Diplomatic Service
- What does the FCO do?
- What do diplomats do?
- Some Kent graduates in the FCO:
- How to apply
- Work experience
- The FCO on social media
- Diplomatic services in other countries
- Further information
You want to work in the Diplomatic Service? So do very many other graduates! The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) regularly appears in the top ten in surveys of “employers graduates would most like to work for” and its Fast-Stream recruitment scheme receives almost 100 applications for every position.
So the competition is fierce, but there are a number of myths about the Diplomatic Service that put many people off applying:
- You don’t need to have a degree in languages, international relations or politics – any degree subject is acceptable.
- You don’t need to have been to public school and/or Oxbridge – several Kent graduates have joined the FCO in the past and the FCO is keen to promote diversity
- You don’t need to join straight from university – time spent working, studying or travelling, particularly abroad, can help you to develop the skills that you need in the Diplomatic Service and thus increase your chances of success
You do need to be a British citizen
- The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is the lead UK government department in foreign affairs.
- Its mission is to formulate and deliver foreign policy and look after UK interests abroad. This includes providing services and supporting British citizens abroad. It also supports British companies through UK Trade and Investment.
- The FCO co-ordinates and facilitates the activity of other government departments on foreign policy issues. It is also the voice of Her Majesty’s Government overseas.
“For me, a Diplomat is someone who enjoys building relationships and understanding cultures; someone who is adept at gathering information and influencing decision-makers; and someone who takes pride in promoting national interests and keeping people safe”.
- Help shape and implement UK foreign policy, and manage day-to-day relations with other countries and international bodies such as the UN
- Explain British policies, identify potential threats to and opportunities for British interests, and provide political and economic analysis of local conditions to inform decision-making at home.
- Look after the interests of British citizens in their host countries.
- Much of the day-to-day work carried out by diplomatic missions involves promoting UK trade interests.
Profile of a diplomat from Target Jobs https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/job-descriptions/279305-diplomatic-service-job-description
- Stuart Gill, British Ambassador to Iceland
- Shan Morgan, Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU
- Victoria Dean, High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean
The main entry route for graduates is through the Civil Service Fast Stream.
Applications are accepted between September and November each year – see www.gov.uk/government/organisations/civil-service-fast-stream for further details of the various schemes, eligibility and the application process.
Recruitment through the Fast Stream is competency-based, using the Civil Service Competency Framework.
Relevant experience is not required: these competencies can be gained and demonstrated through all kinds of experience including part-time and casual work, extra-curricular activities and study.
For other opportunities, see Working for FCO
Almost all posts require you to be willing to work abroad for up to two-thirds of your career.
In 2016 the FCO offered the following work experience schemes:
- The Civil Service Fast Stream Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP). The scheme gives people from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to see what a career in the Civil Service is like. Candidates must be from a black and minority ethnic (BME) background, or be socio-economically disadvantaged or have a disability (a 6-9 week summer placement for 15 students).
- The FCO’s Graduate Internship programme for recent graduates from any academic background interested in developing a career in international relations (up to 9 months placement for 43 recent graduates, from June 2016 to March 2017). Graduates were recruited in spring 2016 and the successful candidates included a law graduate from the University of Kent.
For further details see Working for FCO
- FCO Blogs http://blogs.fco.gov.uk
- #ourpeoplein insights into the work of British diplomats in various embassies, across social media platforms
- https://storify.com/foreignoffice includes “This week at the Foreign Office”
|Madame Fu Ying, the current serving vice foreign minister of the People's Republic of China, completed an MA in International Relations at Kent in 1985. She was the Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom from March 2007 to 2009. From 2004 to 2007 she was the Chinese ambassador to Australia. https://www.kent.ac.uk/alumni/community/inspirational-alumni/government-public-service/ying-fu.html|
A very large number of Kent students are nationals of countries other than the UK and are not eligible to apply for the British Diplomatic Service. Check what arrangements apply in your own country: a high-flying diplomatic career is open to you too!
- Foreign Affairs Ministries on the Web www.usip.org/publications/foreign-affairs-ministries-the-web
- List of British embassies and High Commissions worldwide www.gov.uk/government/world
- Diplomat Magazine: foreign affairs magazine for the diplomatic community in London www.diplomatmagazine.com
Last fully updated 2016