The Central Intelligence Agency makes a point of hosting a recruiting session about once a year at the University of Dallas, says recruiting officer Ryan, who hosted an information session on Tuesday, Feb. 7, for interested students.
Ryan and another officer, Fernando, who could not disclose their last names for security purposes, spoke about various careers in the CIA and described what the government looks for in filling positions vital to the nation’s safety.
“Any foreign language is very critical to us,” Fernando emphasized, adding that people who speak important languages such as Farsi or Chinese are in particular demand, although these fluctuate as situations around the world change.
He also focused on the importance of writing skills in any position in the agency. The public associates intelligence work with the high energy and action in movies, he says, but what is never shown is the paperwork and reports that each officer must complete.
Candidates for positions in the CIA must be able to function in a “complicated, stressful, high-pressure work environment,” Ryan explains. However, the most important factor an interviewer takes into account is the applicant’s ability to fit in with the team, according to Fernando.
He prefers to have an officer involved in operations conduct interviews, so that he or she can judge this crucial component.
The agency offers internships for freshmen and sophomore undergraduates as well as first-year graduate students. They do not require “a lengthy set of credentials,” Ryan says.
The reason recruiters prefer students in their first or second year is the extensive process of clearing a candidate for security purposes.
“We need to make sure we can trust you,” he explains. Experiences that make an applicant stand out include work at a part-time job, involvement in the community – student organizations and other extracurricular activities, in particular – and time spent studying abroad, or “international flavor.”
The CIA, like many prospective students, is drawn to the University’s Rome program.
“We’re really impressed with not only the quality of the students, but [that UD] also has a strong study abroad experience,” Ryan says. “Students have a lot of international experience. The sheer percentage of students that have gone overseas is incredible.”
The purpose of the recruiting sessions is to “provide a sense of that transparency that otherwise wouldn’t be available, to put a face to the agency.” The officers spoke about “making that personal connection,” which is not a difficult task for the recruiters who come to visit UD.
Students who came to recruiting sessions were “very knowledgeable. They did their homework.” Ryan commented on the number of UD undergraduates and graduates who were interested.
“We had a great turnout here,” he said.
The CIA presentation is one of many events Career Services has hosted this semester. Others have included information sessions featuring ExxonMobil and Equipment Depot, as well as résumé reviews combined with free Krispy Kreme donuts, a department staple.
The office plans to hold tours of Microsoft later in February, and stresses the need for student feedback.