Kids will be kids, and young and dumb shenanigans have played a role in security clearance denial cases in the past. When adjudicators are reviewing your case, they are seeking patterns, repeat behavior, and dishonesty when filling out the SF-86.

If you are a young adult embarking on the national security journey, you may be overtly concerned about scenarios that happened very recently, and what weight they may hold with an IC agency like the NSA.

The scenarios include computer crimes, bullying, stealing (his sister’s Halloween candy), murder (of a pet fish by Windex), and accidentally watching porn, among many other things.

JustADude writes:

This is a question that has been driving me crazy I am a high school student looking to apply for the NSA intern program but I’m wary of doing it because of things I’ve done in the past.

I am hoping somebody could answer If I could still get in the NSA as an intern I have not done the activities mentioned for 5 years so far. I am also wondering if I could pass the tests, they throw at me. I have done previous research on the polygraph exam and only recently found out doing so can disqualify you. I will not lie to the government or the NSA and will answer honestly for all questions, anything not mentioned here I haven’t done. Help and answers are greatly appreciated! working at the NSA in cyber security has always been my dream job since I was a child and now, I am ready to try and land the job. Since 8th grade I have really changed and improved as an overall person, I have to add I have never been caught for most of the serious stuff listed above and If I have been caught for it I listed how I was caught. and everything listed above I still deeply regret doing. I actively try to avoid fights and conflict and I have tried to mitigate all forms of blackmail that someone could use on me to increase my chance of getting into the NSA. Some things that are grey area for me is creating the organization listed above I don’t know if this was wrong or right but I can say I enjoyed the organization.

To check out JustADude’s laundry list of criminal acts, check out the full thread at


An internship with the NSA does not mean that you will be filling out the SF-86, however, a teacher must fill out this student evaluation:

The minimum qualifications for interning with the NSA include being at least a junior in high school, 16 years old, a U.S. citizen, 2.5 GPA, coursework that’s applicable to their internship tracks, and a minimum of 4 hours a day and 5 days a week.

Commenters on this thread advise this young national security wannabe that the government wants honest people, not perfect people.

There are not any statistics that can predict your likelihood to being hired. Be honest on the SF-86, answer exactly what they are asking for, and use the additional comments section when you feel it’s necessary. If you can establish that you’re a trustworthy and reliable person, you’re on the right track.

Other questions the original poster has:

  • Would it be bad if I show the NSA this post when they are thinking about hiring me? Not necessary – only answer the questions asked and submit the forms required.
  • Do you know someone that got denied security clearance that has done similar things to me? Clearance denials or job rejections vary from case to case – the key is stopping the bad behavior and being honest about your past – you can view all former Ask CJ articles here.
  • Do you think that I am innocent enough to get hired? Without being charged, there is not a lot you have to disclose when you eventually fill out the SF-86.
  • Will I get disqualified because I have done research on the polygraph exam and its effectiveness? You can find our recommendations on the polygraph process here.

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Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸