Who is a diplomat?


The Deputy Chief of Mission Virginia Blaser chats with Karamajong Warriors

The Deputy Chief of Mission Virginia Blaser
chats with Karamajong Warriors (State Department
image, Embassy Kampala).

You may imagine diplomats are primarily professional men in a pinstriped suits, sitting with other government officials in formal meeting rooms and negotiating peace agreements, threatening sanctions, or hammering out the terms of a security or trade treaty. That image is outdated and narrow. Today, U.S. diplomats — male and female, young and old, and from all backgrounds —  work in both informal and formal settings. They use personal relationships with officials and citizens of the hosting country to advocate for U.S. interests, to work together on common causes, and to explain U.S. society and values.

Our diplomats have a clear mission: to carry out the foreign policy of the United States. This manifests in a variety of responsibilities. Our diplomats support Americans living or traveling internationally for positive events (such as registering a birth of a child) and in times of stress (assisting a jailed American citizen or helping to evacuate Americans from danger.) They ensure a level playing field for American businesses overseas. They support joint counter terrorism cooperation and criminal investigations. They decide who has a legitimate reason to travel to the United States and issue visas accordingly. They work to ensure the safety and security of international flights to the United States. They fight pandemics and deliver humanitarian aid to those in need. They assist governments to respond better to their citizens’ needs, making countries more stable and secure. They link emerging leaders in government and civil society to American counterparts to foster relationship building and collaboration. Also importantly, they provoke interest in foreign students in pursuing U.S. higher education. This is far from a conclusive list of diplomatic priorities, but it gives a flavor of the varied work of U.S. diplomats.

Embassy staff members help make bricks for a cooperative group in Hatcliffe Extension in Harare.

Embassy staff members help make bricks for a cooperative group in Hatcliffe Extension in Harare. (State Department image, U.S. Embassy Harare)

For more information on what diplomats do, look at the Careers page of the U.S. Department of State, or see what opportunities are currently available.