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The State Department -- a great place to work?

By Jill Dougherty, CNN
updated 3:12 PM EST, Wed November 9, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Washingtonian Magazine includes the State Department in its "50 Great Places to Work"
  • "We're making history every day," says one State economic officer
  • The department now has more than 44,000 employees

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Travel to exotic locations? Learn a new language? Help change the world?

The State Department has all that, and more, according to Washingtonian Magazine's new list of the "50 Great Places to Work for 2011."

The State Department made the list based on a survey of Federal News Radio listeners and in consultation with the non-partisan, non-profit Partnership for Public Service.

Hillary Clinton's State Department has 44,362 employees and they can take advantage of perks including a student-loan repayment program, a transit subsidy, and a wide array of courses through the Foreign Service Institute, Washingtonian Magazine says.

"We're making history every day when we come to work. That's pretty amazing," Gilberto TorresVela, an economic officer in the Office of Cuban Affairs, tells the magazine. "State's employees feel that their work makes a difference in foreign affairs, helping to make the world more secure," the article says.

Mark Toner, deputy press secretary, says "You're constantly challenged, you've constantly got to learn new issues, you've got to learn new languages, you've got to learn new cultures. One of the cool things about this job is that it initiates a life-long learning process that I think people find exhilarating. I could end up going to China in a couple of years and learning Chinese, which is pretty cool for someone who's not all that young."

Of course, Foreign Service officers also get some headaches, like trying to make peace in the Middle East, being attacked at dangerous outposts in Afghanistan, and wending their way through treacherous diplomatic waters with North Korea and Iran.

And they don't get a lifetime supply of diplomats' pinstripe suits; today's diplomats are more likely to be wearing flak jackets and helmets.

But, hey, you just might become an ambassador someday.

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