The Defense Intelligence Agency is looking to make the career path for newer employees a little more appealing. With an influx of younger generation workers since 9/11, the agency is looking to provide an entry-exit program to allow individuals to come and go from the organization a bit easier.
"We need to, over a period of 20 to 30 years offer, viable entry and exit ramps to our personnel," said David Shedd, DIA Deputy Director, at a Wednesday panel sponsored by the Government Executive Media Group. "When I think back over 30 years, if I had left the government at year 15, I would have been branded as someone who left the service. I think we need to change that dramatically. I think the demographics tell us in our society the average young person will have four or five careers. The intelligence community has to be able to adapt and adjust to that and bring that talent back in at various stages. He or she has gone off to do something different and bring that back into the community by way of experience."
The program is still in development, according to Shedd, but could be in place in as little as a year. The program idea resulted from exit interviews with DIA employees, which showed a different mindset toward a government career. Individuals weren’t necessarily set on a lifetime career in the intelligence community, and were looking for new opportunities and experiences, as well as a possible re-entry back into an intelligence agency career. There are several considerations to be addressed, however, including ensuring employees keep active security clearances during their period away from government.
As much as 65 to 70 percent of the intelligence community workforce has been hired since 9/11, with many of those individuals representing the Gen Y workforce. The typical career path of an agency intelligence professional may not be the goal for many in this generation, who seek change and challenge over 30 years in the same office. The DIA’s entry-exit program initiative comes as agencies across the federal workforce look to appeal to younger workers or those with in-demand skill-sets.
A part of the entry-exit program will involve looking into hiring process and starting with the agency’s internship program, said Shedd. They’re looking at a diverse pool of applicants including people “who have a passion for the business of intelligence, but at the same time aren’t quite sure where their careers will take them," said Shedd. "It’s really looking at the full scope of individuals who are interested in intelligence as a career."