Teacher Applies for a Job in the Nation’s Capital

Amanda Pierron and Will Ranger

Applying for the position of foreign service officer of the United States is a difficult task, but beloved social studies teacher Eric Thiede rose up to the challenge.

This last month, Thiede visited Washington D.C for an interview and assessment at the U.S. Department of State. Thiede was there for his next step in the long process of applying to become a foreign service officer, a position that would allow him and his family to have a once in a lifetime experience in working and living in a foreign country. A job that would allow him to meet new people, quench his fascination with the world and support others working far from home.

This, however, was no ordinary interview, this was an interview Thiede had hunted for almost two years.

Thiede had already gone through numerous difficult hurdles to reach this point in potential employment with the Department of State. According to Columbia University, an extensive civics and world events test as well as a substantial leadership portfolio were all required. But for Thiede, this interview simply marked the next step in a long and challenging process of becoming a foreign service officer. To add to the pressure, Thiede was now among the select 10 percent of individuals that had gotten this far. 

“The interview had three parts. It was an all day interview from about seven o’clock to 4:30 p.m.”

The interview first tested Thiede‘s ability to work with other applicants to solve problems that they might experience as a foreign service officer. Thiede then had to synthesize a document for a hypothetical supervisor about the status of a problem in a hypothetical country. Lastly, he was involved in a personal interview with two examiners, who questioned him on his experiences and hypotheticals that could occur during his employment. 

Unfortunately, Thiede barely missed the necessary score of the interview to progress to the final steps of employment. But if he were to be accepted, according to the U.S. Department of State, Thiede would move on to the final steps on this position, top secret clearances. Government investigators would have dissected all of Thiede’s life, from his workplaces to his finances, a process that could have taken up to two years. Regardless of not making the cut, Thiede was still greatly influenced by the entire employment process.

“This whole process made me more aware of working with other people. It was also great just for learning more about the world and government from the process of researching this, which ties into a lot of my subject matter that I teach.”

Thiede continues to teach at NHS, but in a new light. By utilizing the experiences through the process, he is able to enrich the minds of today’s students to a greater degree, benefiting both himself and others.