Skip to main content

The Inside Scoop: Life in the Foreign Service

Originally Aired
January 10, 2014
Event Type
Presented By
Michael Butler
Movie Audio Other

What is it like to be an American diplomat posted abroad in a US Embassy? How does one enter the Foreign Service? What is a typical Foreign Service career? How do Foreign Service Officers interact with the State Department at home? What other US Government departments offer opportunities abroad?

Join Michael Butler as he answers these and other questions about life as a Foreign Service officer. Michael will describe life and work in the Foreign Service over the past thirty years and discuss careers abroad as they are today.

About Michael Butler

Michael A. Butler is a UVA alumnus twice-over, with a B.A. in History and English (1973) and a Ph.D. in History (1980).  He entered the Foreign Service of the Department of State in August, 1980.  His Foreign Service postings included Portugal, Romania, Argentina, Norway, Spain, El Salvador and Finland, as well as the Department of State in Washington.  From 1993–1995, Butler was seconded from the Department of State to the US Military Academy, West Point, where he served as Visiting Professor of Social Sciences and State Department Representative.   During his final posting in Helsinki, Butler was Chargé d’Affaires (acting Ambassador) for seven months.  Butler retired from the Foreign Service at the rank of Minister-Counselor (two-star general equivalent) in 2010, and joined the William and Mary faculty as an Adjunct Professor of History in 2012.

Michael Butler has taught History at the University of Virginia and William and Mary, and International Relations, American Foreign Policy and Comparative Politics at West Point. His scholarly interests include the international history of the interwar period as well as the relationship between history and diplomatic practice.  Butler is particularly interested in the use of history in analysis of current foreign-policy challenges.  He is the author of Cautious Visionary: Cordell Hull and Trade Reform, 1933-1937 (Kent State University Press, 1998), and is currently working on a book-length study of foreign-policy aspects of the Hoover-Roosevelt transition of 1932-1933.

Butler’s sons Geoffrey (Col ’02) and Andrew (Col ’04) and daughter-in-law Jamie Jennings (Col ’05) are also UVA alumni.

For more information, please contact Alumni Career Services at