Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Picking a Cone

No, not ice cream.

In the foreign service, there are five career tracks: political, public diplomacy (PD), consular, management, and economic. If you have read this for a while, you know that I am PD coned and my partner is Pol coned.

The Hegemenist, a fairly new foreign service blogger, is doing some nice descriptions of each cone, including what to expect before and after tenure. Since I have gotten emails from readers asking about how to choose a cone (beyond taking the quiz at, I think this is pretty useful for those considering the foreign service.

So far, he has done descriptions of Consular, Management and Public Diplomacy.

He says Econ is on deck for tomorrow. If you are interested in learning more, check it out.


Kelsey said...

Thanks for the link! I found it quite useful for gaining a little bit more insight into the various duties of FSOs.

The Hegemonist said...

Thanks so much for the link the and the mention!

Jordy said...

I'm scheduled to take my first FSOT on Saturday, and aside from freaking out about the Job Knowledge section, I still have misgivings about my cone selection. I found it easy to cross out the first three, which leaves me with POL and PD.

Now, I've heard the rep about POL being very competitive and the creme of the crop. The creme tag appeals to me, the competition, not so much. If I'm viewing the POL and PD tracks on roughly equal terms, is it wiser for me to choose PD as I'll have a better chance of being hired?

Can you say anything particularly good or bad about either? The Hegemonist seemed really sold on PD and consequently changed my thinking quite a bit. POL does appeal to me the most, as least theoretically, but not at the expense of not passing on to the Orals.

Digger said...

First, good luck on the orals!

POL and PD are both extremely competative tracks. When I took the test, the PD register was actually much longer than the POL register because people believed they couldn't get into POL. the result was that the scores getting offers for both were comparable.

I don't know if that is still the case, but I suspect that it is. The passing score required for those cones I believe is the same, but I am not sure. I do know both have a higher passing score than other cones.

That said, remember that you are looking at a career. You should pick the cone that you think you will enjoy the most because changing cones can be difficult once you are in. But regardless of your cone, you will have the opportunity to work in other cones. I will begin my fourth tour, but only my first PD assignment, in July. I have done a CON/POL rotation and two interfunctional tours. I think either cone would be great and my decision was between those two as well. I ultimately chose PD because my partner is a POL officer and being in the same cone would make it difficult to be assigned together. But I also have a background in journalism, which made PD a good fit for me.

All of that is a long way of saying both are great if that is the kind of work you want to do and awful if it isn't (I know people who ADORE consular work and would never want to do political, and those who will poke their eyes out with pencils if they ever have to do consular again). So pick what your gut tells you is the best fit for your interests and then do an outstanding job on the orals.