Even if students don't take the test, they can benefit from interacting with the diplomat in residence assigned to their region, says Kenzi Green, national communications director for the College Democrats of America.
"I'd urge everyone with an interest in serving their country, whether through the Foreign or Civil Service, to reach out to their DIR," Green says. "The State Department is such an incredibly diverse body; it's not only for those who are studying politics or international affairs. In fact, many who are studying outside these fields bring such a dynamic perspective to the Department."
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Even students who don't aspire to work in the Foreign Service can benefit from interacting with the diplomat assigned to their region, agrees Clifford Deaton, a doctoral candidate in political science and the former president of the Association of Graduate Students of Politics at the University of Illinois—Chicago.
"I would recommend the [DIRs] program to other students, seeing that a working knowledge of contemporary politics is certainly a skill to have coming out of college," he says.
Even students who have heard of the Diplomats in Residence program might underestimate how responsive the diplomats are, says Jarret Freeman, a senior at CUNY—Hunter College. Freeman, who met Armbruster after the diplomat spoke at one of his classes, says he always receives responses to his questions from Armbruster and plans to seek his guidance when he applies to graduate school.
"He's a great listener," says Freeman. "And he always follows up."
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Cheatham, the program coordinator at the State Department, says that now is a good time for both graduate and undergraduate students to consider applying to the Foreign Service, despite hiring freezes at some government agencies.
"We've been very fortunate to be able to increase the size of the Foreign Service and the Civil Service fairly significantly in the last few years, and right now—at least for this year—we are able to hire for attrition and a few other long-vacant positions," she says. "We are still hiring. That is our basic message."
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