How one woman found her dream career working at the U.S. Department of State.
The U.S. Department of State is the nation’s leading foreign affairs agency, but surprisingly, many individuals, especially African-Americans, are unfamiliar with what the agency does.
And Chimere was no different. Read on and see how this dynamic engineer discovered the U.S. Department of State at a career fair, and changed the trajectory of her life.
EBONY: How did you begin your journey with the U.S. Department of State?
Chimere: I was recruited straight out of college, but it’s an interesting story. With about two months to go until graduation, I found myself without any job prospects—despite my good grades and internship experience. Since I had been an active member of Clemson’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), I knew that the organization had a career fair coming up in late March.
So, I traveled across the country to Anaheim, CA hoping to secure employment at the career fair. There were more than 200 companies and government agencies there, but after walking the aisles for hours, I realized that the need for computer engineers wasn’t as strong as I had hoped. And as I walked away, my optimistic feelings began to take on a more somber tone.
But just as I was about to walk back to my hotel room, something (I call it my guardian angel) told me to walk down the last aisle. I’d passed it before, but had dismissed it because I didn’t think any companies would be setup in such an obscure location. But walking down that last aisle changed my life forever.
There was a booth that had a poster with the words “computers” and “hacking” on it and I was immediately intrigued. Now, I knew it wasn’t computer programming, but I figured that it was worth looking into! I spoke with the Diplomatic Security (DS) recruiters at the booth, and they told me about the chance to travel worldwide, live abroad, obtain a security clearance, and represent America – all with a federal government organization of which I had never heard, the U.S. Department of State.
After receiving more information and chatting with the recruiters at the booth a bit more, I agreed to be interviewed by a now fellow Security Engineering Officer (SEO). I was given a conditional offer at the interview and came on board as an SEO with the Department of State six months later. I’ve been happy ever since.
EBONY: Were you nervous about the prospect of living overseas?
Chimere: Granted, I was a little nervous at first. Remember, I’m a country girl from South Carolina so, you know, I had only traveled distances maybe two or three states over, stayed for about a week or so. But I’d never been that far apart from my family before. But depending upon where you’re posted you can keep in touch with your family pretty regularly via emails and such. Plus, when you work for the Department of State you’re never alone. There’s always someone watching out for your safety.
EBONY: What is your title and where is work located?
Chimere: I’m a Foreign Service Specialist, serving as a Security Engineering Officer with a focus on technical security policy. I’m currently posted in Washington, D.C.
EBONY: What does the U.S. Department of State do exactly?
Chimere: (Laughs.) I get that question a lot. The Department of State is the leading U.S. foreign affairs agency. We have over 265 diplomatic locations around the world including embassies, consulates, and missions. Our primary purpose is to maintain diplomatic relations with most countries in the world, including quite a few international organizations, while shaping a freer, more secure, and more prosperous world that protects American interests abroad. Whew!
EBONY: Wow, that’s quite an answer. Is that all that the DOS is known for?
Chimere: Oh, no. We’re responsible for promoting peace and stability in areas of vital interest to America, including helping developing nations establish stable economic environments. We also have a number of domestic and international locations where we provide information and services to U.S. citizens traveling abroad, including issuing passports. And, we also issue visas to foreigners wishing to visit the United States.
EBONY: Oh, so you don’t have to live abroad to work for the U.S. Department of State?
Chimere: Not at all. There are a number of domestic and international positions available. Foreign Service Officers and Foreign Service Specialists work abroad, while Civil Service professionals work stateside. We also have internship and fellowship programs for students, and executive development programs for professionals.
EBONY: What does your particular job as a Foreign Service Specialist entail?
Chimere: Well, it can pretty much run the gamut. I’m part of a team that repairs and installs alarm systems and cameras at U.S. embassies internationally. I can travel as a part of the advanced team for the Secretary of State doing inspections overseas. I also inspect the network at various Department of State embassies overseas.
EBONY: Where are some of the places that you’ve traveled to so far?
Chimere: Hmm, let’s see. I’ve actually had the chance to travel quite a bit during my time with the Department of State. I’ve been to about 16 different countries including Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Mexico, and Peru. I also served in Dakar, Senegal while I was covering seven other embassies in seven other countries, ranging from Guinea-Conakry to Cape Verde.
EBONY: Is it all “work and no play” overseas?
Chimere: Well, it is true that a career as a Foreign Service Specialist or Officer is challenging, but you do have time to enjoy yourself. Personally, I was involved in quite a few embassy activities. While I was in West Africa, I ran the concession stand for WAIST (West African Invitational Softball Tournament) and I found other small groups that I could join locally.
EBONY: How do you find activities to enjoy yourself?
Chimere: Whenever I’m assigned to a new post, I try to attend local concerts and events to help immerse myself in that culture. And I’ve found that doing so helps me make friends, too. So, you can definitely make a social life for yourself overseas.
EBONY: Can you tell us about some of the experiences or adventures you’ve had?
Chimere: My time with the State Department has blessed me with experiences beyond my wildest childhood dreams. My Specialist training brought along a lot of firsts for me: first time repairing various security systems, first time shooting a gun, first time purposely wrecking a car (defensive driving), and the first time traveling abroad. It also afforded me the pleasure of meeting Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Dr. Condoleezza Rice. To be able to do that was just incredible for me. Basically, I was looking for an opportunity that challenged me and offered me the opportunity to learn something new every day. And let me tell you, the U.S. Department of State has not disappointed!
EBONY: Can you tell us one of your success stories?
Chimere: Hmmm…that’s a hard one. I mean, when you work here, you’re pretty much set up for success. Between all of the training and opportunities for mentorship, you really have the chance to shine. Let’s see…well, my very first overseas tour took me to Dakar, Senegal, where I actually replaced the SEO who recruited me! And let me tell you, those were some big shoes to fill! I adapted to a culture that was completely different from what I knew, all while exercising “technical diplomacy” with my U.S. and Foreign National technical security counterparts. I also oversaw eight employees in the Engineering Service Center (ESC) Dakar and provided technical security support and advice to seven other U.S. Embassies in West Africa.
EBONY: What do you like most about being a Foreign Service Specialist?
Chimere: Well for me, I thrive on challenge and excitement. And working here has been a very educational and challenging experience for me—but pretty rewarding as well. It definitely got me out of my comfort zone, and gave me the opportunity to serve and represent my country overseas without carrying a gun. And ultimately, that’s what keeps me going —and happy—at the State Department. The ability to learn a new skill or learn to wire up an alarm system by myself beats working in a cube 24/7. And truthfully, there’s always something exciting going on.
EBONY: So, what’s next for you on the job?
Chimere: This fall I will be transferring to my fourth posting with the Department of State, which will allow me to focus on computer security. I’ll also have the chance to give back to the Department by recruiting potential SEO candidates at various colleges and universities. And, of course, I’ll be recruiting at the NSBE National Conventions where I began my career.
EBONY: What would say to people interested in working at the U.S. Department of State?
Chimere: You know, I meet quite a few engineers at career fairs, and I always tell them the same thing. Yes, I know there are quite a few avenues for engineering careers, but if you want a job that’s truly an out-of-the-box experience, I recommend joining the Department of State. It’s an incredible experience. (Source EBONY)
Diplomatic Missions in Ghana:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Embassy: No. 19 Fifth Link Road, Cantonments, Accra, Ghana
Consular Section, U.S. Embassy, P.O. Box 194, Greater Accra, Ghana
Tel:  (302) 775348, 775349, 775295 or 775298
FAX:  (302) 776008
Osu Link, Ridge, Accra
Contact: 0302 221665, 0302 221745, 0302 221715
Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
(Resident in Addis Ababa),
Bole Road, H-17, K-19, N-102,
P.O. Box 2308, Addis Ababa.
Embassy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Algeria,
82 Tito Avenue, P.O. Box 2747, Accra.
Embassy of the Argentine Republic (Resident in Lagos),
Akolowo Road, SW,
P.O. Box 51940, Ikoyi Branch, Lagos, Nigeria.
Australian High Commission
2 Second Rangoon Close (cnr Josef B Tito Ave)
Post: PMB 60, KIA-Accra
Tel: 0302-701 2961-3; 0302-777080
Website: Embassy of Australia in Ghana
Consulate of Austria
P.O. Box CT-109
16, Wawa Street, Dzorwulu, Accra (off Blohun Street, near SID Theater)
Office hours: Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Appointment only under above phone number on Tuesday and Wednesday from 2p.m. – 5 p.m.
Tel. 0302-78 33 68
Fax 0302-76 32 36
Where and how to get the visa
High Commission for the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
(Resident in Dakar),
Immeuble Kebe, 7th Floor, Apartment Nos. 11 & 12,
B.P. 403, Dakar, Senegal. Tel: 225017/216881
Consulate of Belgium
P.O.Box CT 3890
Independence Avenue (Mile 4 next to GWCL, ATMA offices)
Tel. 0302-776561, 0302-762281, 0302-762382
Embassy of the People’s Republic of Benin,
19 Volta Street, 2nd Close, Airport Residential Area,
P.O. Box 7871, Accra North.
Embassy of Brazil,
No. 4 Fifth Link, Off Senchi Street
P.O. Box CT 3859, Cantonments, Accra
Airport Residential Area
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: 0302 774921/774908
Website: Brazil embassy in Accra
British High Commission
Osu Link, off Gamel Abdul Nasser Avenue
P O Box GP 296, Accra, Ghana
Tel: +233 (302) 213250
(233) (302) 7010650 (24 hours)
Office Hours (GMT): 0745-1445
Immigration Section Public Hours: 07:30-11:00
Consular Section Public Hours: 07:30-13:30
Fax +233 (302) 701 0655
Tel (visa section) +233 (302) 701 0721
Fax (visa section) +233 (302) 221715
Website: British High commission in Ghana
Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria,
3 Kakramadu Rd, East Cantonments,
P.O. Box 3193, Accra.
Tel: (00233 21) 77-24-04
Embassy of Burkina Faso,
House No 772/3, Asylum Down,
P.O. Box 651, Accra.
Embassy of the United Republic of Cameroon
(Resident in Lagos), 5 Elsie Femi Peatse Street,
Victoria Island, P.M.B. 2476, Lagos, Nigeria.
Tel: (+234) 14 48 09 85
Fax: (+234) 14 48 09 85
Canadian High Commission,
46 Independence Avenue,
P.O. Box 1639
Sankara Interchange (Ako Adjei Overpass)
Tel: (0302) 228555/228556
Website: Embassy of Canada in Ghana
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China,
6 Agostino Neto Road, Airport Residential Area,
P.O. Box 3356, Accra
Tel:+233-0302-2761133 (Secretary to the ambassador), +233-030-2797437 (visa inquiry, 9:00-12:00 am, Tuesday & Thursday)
Fax:030-2774527 (Secretary to the ambassador), 030-2797327 (visa inquiry)
Website: Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
COTE D’IVOIRE (Ivory Coast)
Embassy of the Republic of Côte d Ivoire (Ivory Coast),
9 Eighteenth Lane, off Cantonments Road, Christiansborg,
P.O. Box 3445, Accra.
Tel: (0302) 774611/774612.
Fax: +233-21-773516/78 00 76
Website: Embassy of Côte d Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in Ghana
Embassy of the Republic of Cuba,
20 Amilcar Cabral Road, Airport Junction,
P.O. Box 9163, Airport, Accra.
Website: Embassy of Cuba in Ghana
Embassy of the Czech Republic in Ghana
Kanda High Road, No. 2, House No. C260/5,
P.O. Box 5226, Accra North.
Tel: +233 (302)223540/247282
Fax: 00233 (0) 30 22 25 337
Website: Embassy of the Czech Republic in Ghana
Embassy of Denmark, Ghana
67 Dr. Isert Road (8th Avenue Extension)
P.O. Box C596, Accra
Location: nearby the World Bank office
Tel: +233 (0) 30 220 8730 (Fix tel), +233 (0) 54 011 6703 (Mobile tel), +233 (0) 30 220 8755 (Visa inquiry)
Website: Embassy of Denmark in Ghana
Embassy of Egypt, Accra-Ghana
Airport Residential Area,
Website: Embassy of Egypt in Ghana
Embassy of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea
North Airport Road No. 70 (Kufour Lane)
Tel: (+233) 302 766 357
Embassy of Ethiopia,
No. 2 Milne Close Off Dr. Amilcar Cabral
Road Airport Residential Area
Tel: +233 302 775 928, +233 302 765 682
Fax: (+233) 302-277 6807
This embassy is resident in Nigeria
Embassy of Finland
P.M.B 5140, Maputo Street
Wuse Zone 3
NO.9, Iro Dan Musa Street
PLOT 1547, Asokoro
Tel: +234 706 418 9000, +234 817 245 4644 (Inquiries only:(Mon-Thu, 1 pm – 4 pm))
Email: sanomat.ABA@formin.fi, email@example.com (for visa, residence permit and legalization customers)
Website: Embassy of Finland in Ghana (Resident in Nigeria)
Embassy of France,
12th Road, off Liberation Avenue, P.O. Box 187, Accra.
Tel:+233 (0) 302.21.45.50
Website: Embassy of France in Ghana
Embassy of the Republic of Gabon (Resident in Abidjan),
Immeuble Shell, BP 3765, Abidjan 01.
Gambia High Commission (Resident in Lagos)
7 Misratah Street
Off Parakou Crescent
P.M.B. 5058 Wuse 2
Tel: +234 080 625 06180, +234 070 682 82964, +234 080 570 12927
Fax: +234 080 570 05023
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Liaison Office, Lagos
162 Awolowo Road
P.O. Box 8073
Tel: +2341 267 0829
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
n° 4, Sam Nujoma
North Ridge, ACCRA
P.O. Box GP 1757
Tel:(00233) 302 21 10 00, (00233) 302 24 10 82.
Fax: (00233) 302 22 13 47
Website: German Embassy in Ghana
Embassy of the Republic of Greece (Resident in Lagos).
Honorary General Consulate, Accra
No 1 Boundry Road Extension East Legon DTD 102-Cantonments
Tel:(00233) 302542254, 244337935
Email:firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com
Guinea Embassy in Ghana
No. 125 Opp. Accra Girl’s Roman Ridge
Tel: +233-302-777-921, +233-302-775-373
8 Drake Avenue,
Air Port Residential Area
P.O.Box KA 9675, Accra
Embassy of Hungarv
Mulungushi Gardens, Abla Court, Plot 53
Fifth Avenue Etension, Switchback Cantonments
Tel: (+233) 50-642-3804, (+233) 50-642-3805
Facebook: Embassy of Hungary in Ghana, facebook.
High Commission of India,
No. 9 Ridge Road, Roman Ridge
PO Box CT-5708, Cantonments
Tel: +233-307020903, 307020904
Fax: Fax: +233-302772176
Website: Embassy of India in Ghana
Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia (Resident in Lagos)
5/B Anifowoshe Street, Victoria Island, P.O. Box 3474, Lagos,
Tel:(234-01) 261-0508; 261-4601
Fax: (234-01) 261-3301; 261-3963
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of lran
3 Nme Lane
Airport Residential Area
P.O. Box 12673
Tel: (+233) 302 774 474, (+233) 302 760 521
Embassy of the Republic of Iraq (Resident in Lagos),
Plot 708A, Adeola Hopewell Street, Victoria Island,
P.O. Box 8259, Lagos, Nigeria.
Irish Honorary Consulate General
10 Abidjan Avenue
Tel: (+233) 30 251 8112
Fax: (+233) 30 251 8117
Embassy of Israel
No. 2, First Circular Road
Unit 1 Josni Residence Cantonments,
P. O. Box CN 91
Tel: +233 302 743838 / 982418
Fax: +233 302 743857
Website: Embassy of ISrael in Ghana
Embassy of Italy in Ghana
awaharlal Nehru Road
P.O.Box CT 885
Cantonments Accra, Ghana
Tel: 00233302775621, 00233302775622
Website: Embassy of Italy in Ghana
The High Commission of Jamaica (Resident in Addis Ababa),
National House, Menelik 11 Avenue, P.O. Box 5633, Addis Ababa
Tel: 151711, 1517l3
Embassy of Japan,
8 Tito Avenue, off Jawaharlal Nehru Avenue,
P.O. Box 1637, Accra.
Tel: 0302-775615, 0302-775616
High Commission of Kenya (Resident in Lagos),
52 Queen’s Drive, Ikoyi, P.O. Box 6464,
Tel: 682768, 685531.
KOREA, Democratic Republic
Embassy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,
139 Nortei Ababio Loop, Ambassadorial Estate,
Roman Ridge, P.O. Box 13874, Accra.
Embassy of the Republic of Korea
3 Abokobi Road, East Cantonments,
P.O. Box 13700, Accra North.
Embassy of the State of Kuwait (Resident in Dakar),
Embassy of the Republic of Lebanon,
House No F864/1, Cantonments Road, Osu,
P.O. Box 562, Accra.
High Commission of the Kingdom of Lesotho,
(Resident in Nairobi), 4th Floor, International House,
Mama Ngina Street, Nairobi, P.O. Box 4496, Kenya.
Telegraphic Address: “BOEMELI Nairobi”. Telex: 22489
Embassy of the Republic of Liberia,
10 West Cantonments, off Jawaharlal Nehru Road,ï¿½
P.O. Box 895, Accra.
LIBYA Arab Jamahiriya
People’s Bureau of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,
14 Sixth Street, Airport Residential Area,
P.O. Box9665, Accra.
No. 18, Templesi Lane
Airport Residential Area, Accra
Embassy of the Republic of Mali,
Agostino Neto Road, Airport Residential Area,
P.O. Box 1121, Accra.
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania
(Resident in Abidjan).
(Resident in Rabat, Morocco)
The Royal Netherlands Embassy,
89 Liberation Road, Thomas Sankara Circle,
P.O. Box 3248, Accra.
Web: Netherlands Embassy in Accra
Embassy of the Republic of Niger,
House No. E.104/3,
P.O. Box 2685, Accra.
Office of the High Commission for the Federal Republic of
Nigeria, Tito Avenue, P.O. Box 1548, Accra.
Royal Norwegian Embassy (Resident in Lagos),
2 Adeola Hopewell Street, Victoria Island,
P.O. Box 2413, Lagos,
Resident in Algiers
Honorary Consulate of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,
Appiah Street, Mamprobi – Alhaji Last Stop
P. O. Box MP 686
Embassy of the State of Palestine
15, Ghana Airways Avenue
Airport Residential Area
P.O. Box 01728, Osu. Accra
Tel: 00233 302 778736 / 00233 302 760478
Fax: 00233 302 785806 /00233 244 33 44 22
Embassy of the Republic of Poland,
2 Akosombo Street, Airport Residential Area,
P.O. Box 2552,
Embassy of Portugal (Resident in Lagos),
23 Alhaji Bashorun Street, Ikoyi
P.O. Box 8593, Lagos, Nigeria.
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Romania,
North Labone Ward F. Block 6, House No. 262,
P.O. Box 3735, Accra.
13 Lane, Ring Road East,
P.O. Box 1634,
SAHRAOUI ARAB DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC
Embassy of the Sahraoui Arab Democratic Republic (Resident in
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia,
10 Noi Fetreke Street, Roman Ridge Ambassadorial Estate
Extension, Airport Residential Area,
P.O. Box 670, Accra.
Telex: 2407 NAJDIA GH
Embassy of the Republic of Senegal (Resident in Lagos),
14 Kofo Abayorni Road, Victoria Island,
P.M.B. 2197, Lagos,
Office of the High Commissioner for the Republic of Sierra Leone
(Resident in Lagos).
(Resident in Singapore)
Embassy of the Somali Democratic Republic (Resident in Lagos),
5 Eletu Ogabi Street, Plot 1270, Victoria Island,
P.O. Box 6355,
Tel: 611283, 610834
Ambassador: Mr Jorge Montealegre Buire
Embassy of the Kingdom of Spain,
Lamptey Avenue Extension, Airport Residential Area,
P.O. Box 1218, Accra.
Tel: 0302-774004, 0302-774005
Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Sudan
(Resident in Lagos), 40 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi,
P.O. Box 2428, Lagos, Nigeria.
Embassy of Sweden (Resident in Lagos),
26 Monoley Street
P.O. Box 1097, Lagos, Nigeria.
Tel: 630672/77/81/88, 631049.
Embassy of Switzerland,
9 Water Road, North Ridge Area,
P.O. Box 359, Accra.
UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA
High Commission of the United Republic of Tanzania
(Resident in Lagos)
45 Ademola Street, SW Ikoyi, P.O. Box 6417, Lagos
Embassy of the Republic of Togo,
Togo House, Near Cantonments Circle, P.O. Box C120,
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
High Commission of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
(Resident in Lagos),
Plot 1374, 6 Oarim Kotun Street Victoria
Island, P.O. Box 6392, Lagos, Nigeria.
Embassy of Tunisia (Resident in Lome).
Embassy of Turkey (Resident in Lagos).
Embassy of the Republic of Venezuala
(Resident in Lagos)
Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island,
P.O. Box 3727,
Embassy of the Republic of Vietnam
(Resident in Luanda)
Embassy of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,
No. 47 Senchi Street Airport Residential Area,
P.O. Box 1629, Accra.
Embassy of the Republic of Zaire (Resident in Lome),
High Commission of the Republic of Zambia
No. 6 Agostino Neto Road, Airport Residential Area,
Phone 0302-782298 and 0302-767692.
Opposite Chinese Embassy
Zimbabwe High Commission (Resident in Lagos),
6 Kasumu Ekemode Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria.