Intelligence Community (IC) and national security career professionals are in it for the mission. But while the path into a national security career often seems daunting, so is the prospect of navigating out of a national security career. That’s the position Alison Pentz Bouwmeester found herself in when she considered leaving the CIA after 28 years of service. “I dreaded leaving the CIA (“the Agency”), which had been my tribe since the year that I graduated from college. It was a family of amazing, intelligent people with a shared mission that we all took very seriously. It was hard to imagine leaving a place where I believed that my work really mattered to our national security. How could anything replace this incredible life?”

Bouwmeester not only found a new career outside of the Agency, she’s gone on to help others navigate the same journey as a Certified Professional Career Coach, and author of the book, Mission: Career Transition – a guide for former spies, intelligence agents and those leaving government or military service. The book doesn’t just focus on how to find your next career, but how to navigate the many opportunities that lay on the other side of a career transition – entrepreneurship, retirement, full-time employment or consulting. The book is filled with worksheets to help career professionals assess where they’re at and what they’d like – a critical aspect of any career transition but particularly helpful for those leaving government or military careers. That’s why it’s our October book club pick at ClearanceJobs – whether you’re like Bouwmeester and leaving a long career with a three letter agency, or a defense contractor considering a job move after a serious stint with a single company, the book has worthwhile tips and considerations.

Interested in reading with us? The first 10 individuals to email will receive a free Kindle edition of the book.

Mission: Career Transition includes the responses of 33 interview subjects who discussed their transitions from government offices from the CIA to the National Security Agency and Department of Energy. The survey responses give a personal account behind the decision to leave, which job search strategies were most successful, and what individuals wish they had known or done differently.

The book is divided into three key sections, related to the three key aspects of leaving government service:

  • Making the decision to go.
  • Potential paths to pursue.
  • The mechanics of a career transition, including resumes, job applications and interviewing.

Anyone working in the national security space knows the decision to enter government service involves time and effort. The same effort is required in making an adequate exit. Even if the end of a government career involves retirement (which often isn’t the case), taking the steps to consider the paths, options, and taking the advice of those who have come before is a task worth pursuing. Mission: Career Transition is more than a book, it’s a career change guide you can take with you as you navigate your career journey. Join us later this month as we take your questions and interview Bouwmeester about life after the CIA and navigating a career change in the national security space. Have a question you want us to address? Drop it in the comments.

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer