A couple of weeks ago in Daily Intelligence’s “Working For the CIA,” I shared the story of former CIA employee Brian Goral. If you recall, “For Goral, who in 15 short years in the CIA traveled to some 30 different countries, his yearning started early, and he fulfilled the desire, first, with an internship.”
You can take the same steps Goral took and land an internship with the CIA. Internships are excellent opportunities to introduce yourself to the Agency, gain a more intimate understanding of the Agency and what it offers and, as well, begin making a positive impression among those who someday may depend on you. And even if your cleared path takes you to some other destination, a CIA internship is a perfect way to begin building—or adding to—an enviable resume in the cleared community.
No matter where you are in your education, the CIA’s wide array of choices—from 90 day opportunities in the summer to semester-long internships—will fit most any plan. If you’re a high school student interested in an intelligence career but short on funds for college, the CIA offers an undergrad scholarship program. If you’re already an undergrad or a graduate student, the possibilities are significant. During the summer, you could intern in anything from budget and finance to analysis to cybersecurity to information management to foreign media analysis, and many more. Interested specifically in information technology, shoot for an internship as an applications developer, computer engineer, or network engineer. And if you’d like to take a semester off to get your wits about you before making long-term career decisions, the CIA has year-around internship opportunities for students.
But, in every case, you have to plan ahead and get to work on your application soon. CIA’s Careers & Internships page outlines application deadlines, which vary from program to program. For fall, winter, or spring, you have to submit your application anywhere from nine months to a year in advance of your target dates. Right now, you have less than a month to submit applications for summer 2017. Whatever position interests you, “the application process is a lengthy one. Depending on your specific circumstances, the process may take as little as two months or more than a year.” But if you intern with the CIA, you may get paid. Posted salaries for some positions range from $40,000 to over $50,000, depending on the position and expertise.
You have to be sharp, proactive, and deliberate. Standards are high: most require a 3.0 GPA. And your record has to be pretty impeccable. As the site forewarns rather ominously, “Be prepared to undergo a thorough background investigation examining your life’s history, your character, trustworthiness, reliability and soundness of judgment. We also examine your freedom from conflicting allegiances, potential to be coerced, and willingness and ability to abide by regulations governing the use, handling and the protection of sensitive information. The CIA uses the polygraph to check the veracity of this information. The hiring process also includes a thorough mental and physical medical examination in relation to performing essential job functions.”
It’s a challenge, but the rewards may be immense.