For this episode of the Security Clearance Careers podcast, we speak with Sarah Adams, a targeting officer and global threat advisor with extensive domestic and international experience. From 2015 – 2017 she served on the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Benghazi, and prior to the committee, was a lead Targeting Analyst at the CIA. She joined the Agency in 2006 to identify and assess global terrorist threats aimed at the U.S., its interests, and its allies.
Career Path to the CIA
More recently, she has worked in a number of other roles to try to answer complex national security challenges, and coauthored Benghazi: Know Thy Enemy: A Cold Case Investigation. Her journey can lend insight to younger professionals who may be interested in a career at the CIA.
She didn’t always envision herself at the CIA and found the analysis world in 2006. Adams offers advice to our younger generation about getting a job with the intelligence community. It wasn’t until grad school that Adams started learning about national security topics and consequently intelligence community careers.
Adams actually pivoted careers from some of the internships she worked in during college. One thing to note is that mentors played an important role in that transition – and having many mentors across multiple industries helps to develop your network.
Three tips to getting a career at the CIA
- Use internships to meet your three-year probation period (i.e., three summer internships can mean you come into the agency at a more senior level).
- Don’t box yourself in to security clearance careers. There are many internships with open source that may better suit you now to get to that security clearance later.
- Work on the issues that you’re really interested in, perhaps with think tanks or firms, and you will eventually get yourself into the intelligence community to do great work.
Know Thy Enemy: Former CIA Members Seeking Justice for Benghazi
Professionals should tune in to this episode of the Security Clearance Careers podcast to have an inside look on the controversy of Benghazi, how politics should not be part of national security investigations, the 2014 congressional Benghazi committee, terrorist events, and what role CIA targeting officers have inside the Agency, and what life looks like for Sarah Adams after.