Women’s History Month: U.S. Foreign Service Diplomat Finds Career Success in Caribbean

How Krystal Norman expanded her career horizons by working abroad

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What advice do you have for millennials who are trying to figure out if the Foreign Service is right for them?

Go for it! If you meet the basic requirements, do your research. Your first stop should be to visit Careers.state.gov to get the most updated information on the Foreign Service. Then try to contact anyone you may know working in the State Department to get first-hand insight about the opportunities and challenges of the job. If you don’t know anyone, identify your local Diplomat in Residence. Meanwhile, immerse yourself in foreign policy; follow the leadership and current events to try to understand the U.S. government’s priorities and get a feel for the policy-making process. Finally, think long and hard about where you are in your career and if this change is right for you, right now. The Foreign Service is not only a job, it’s a lifestyle choice. We move all over the world, adjust to steep learning curves, learn languages, adapt to different cultures, and represent our country with pride.  I think diplomats have the best stories, and no two diplomats have taken the same path.  So if you’re looking for a rewarding, yet challenging career in public service, you should strongly consider joining the team.

What has been your most rewarding moment?

The most rewarding moment of my career was receiving my official commission, certifying that I was a Foreign Service Officer.  I look at it every day as I leave the house.  President Barack Obama and the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, both signed it.  I see it as a piece of history, and I am honored to have worked for two revered public servants.  As an African American woman, I have learned many lessons about leadership, vision, and dedication from both of them.  My commission is a constant reminder that I can either watch history or be a part of it.  Great leaders set high expectations, and I plan to live up to their standards of leadership and commitment in order to create a legacy that my peers will both admire and respect.

What’s next for you and career once you finish your current assignment?

Most Foreign Service officers rotate to different countries every two to four years.  After working in two beautiful Caribbean countries, I’m ready for a new adventure.  But that’s the beauty of the job – a new adventure always awaits.  No matter how much planning you do, until you see the list, you really have no idea which positions may be available for your next assignment.  You even realize sometimes that you will consider working in a country that was completely off your radar, now that you know it’s an option.  There are a few languages that I’m looking forward to learning and jobs that I would love to do.  The only thing I know for sure is the Department won’t let me stay in this island paradise for two more years.  So, I guess we’re going to have wait and see what’s next!

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