Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Invaluable References

As I've started preparing for the FSWE, I've stumbled across a few books that every potential Foreign Service Officer (FSO) ought to read.

The first is the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy by Trefil, Kett, & Hirsch (eds.) The chapters on Politics, History, and Geography are great places to start studying for the Job Knowledge (JK) portion of the exam.

Secondly, one should read Inside a U.S. Embassy by Shawn Dorman (ed.) This book overviews the organization and different positions that are available in our U.S. Embassies and Missions, and includes anecdotal "A Day in the Life of" stories of many of these positions. An excellent resource for understanding some of the day-to-day job requirements.

Next, Realities of Foreign Service Life by Linderman & Brayer-Hess (eds.) should NOT be overlooked. This book will hammer home what one can realistically expect to encounter in the service of the Department of State (DoS). The reader should insert himself/herself (and their family members) into these stories before getting starry-eyed at the prospects of visiting exotic countries. If he/she can't identify with this book, and accept the possibility/liklihood of it happening to them, then they probably shouldn't waste their time applying for the FS anyway. It's real, and it will knock you down if you're not prepared for it.

Last, one should read and re-read and read yet again The United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and Amendments 11-27. Learn it, understand it, memorize it.