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Mar 18, 2019 Ask Molly: March 18, 2019

Q: Dear Molly,

What’s the upper age limit for employment at the CIA? Thanks!

~ Ageless

A: Dear Ageless,

We recently presented at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas and this was the most frequently asked question.

Some federal agencies do have an upper age limit for employment for certain positions; however, CIA does not. There's no strict age limit for employment; hiring decisions are made based on a review of the whole person.

You can join the CIA right out of high school, since 18 is the minimum age for employment here, but most of our positions require at least a bachelor’s degree. We have several year-round opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

Our primary requirements for employment are that you must be a US citizen and a high school graduate. As stated earlier, most occupations require an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university. Military experience is highly valued, as are advanced degrees, and life experiences are always taken into consideration. Integrity, character, and patriotism are a must. Fluency in a foreign language is a plus.

Our personnel requirements change from month-to-month as positions are filled and others become available, so if you don’t see the right job for you now, check back again soon.

Good luck!

~ Molly

Mar 15, 2019 Women in Intel: Marion Frieswyk

The First Female Intelligence Cartographer

Marion Frieswyk embodies the diligence, determination, and innovative spirit that we value at CIA. Looking back over her career, Marion was a true pioneer.

She was the first woman in the Map Division’s Cartography Section, helped to develop a unique system of map production, and produced customized maps and 3D topographic models during WWII.

After OSS dissolved in 1945, she remained as part of the core group of cartographers who stayed with the unit, working in CIA’s Cartography Division until 1958.

Marion recognized early on that geography is deeply relevant to intelligence work, enhancing the Agency’s ability to visualize and tell stories that resonate with those we serve.

Her passion and spirit represent timeless qualities that define the Cartography Center to this day.

Read More

Mar 13, 2019 CIA’s Secrets to Creative Problem Solving at the SXSW Conference and Festivals

What do a wombat, wolf, wood duck, and otter have in common?

SXSW hero image

They each represent some of the creativity techniques and tools presented by our creative thinking instructors, Jacob and Nyssa, at South by Southwest (SXSW) on March 8 in Austin, Texas.

Problem-solving requires two types of thinking?

Yes! All problem-solving requires two types of thinking: divergent and convergent. Under the constraints of stress, deadlines, or routine thinking, our natural tendency is to rely on the latter and creativity becomes a luxury. Jacob and Nyssa introduced the concept of divergent thinking, and provided real-world examples and exercises that anyone can use to strengthen their own creative problem-solving.

SXSW stage image

Hint, think WoMBAT: “What Might Be All The…” and reframe the problem by asking questions that make your brain think of all the possibilities, not just right and wrong answers.

CIA Creative Thinking InstructorsClick here to listen to a recording of CIA’s live presentation at SXSW or download the full presentation.

Do you have a story on creative problem-solving that you would like to share with CIA? You can tweet us @CIA using #CIAWombat.

Mar 12, 2019 Women in Intel: Captain Czech

The Derring-Do of Stephanie Czech Rader

“[The OSS] gave me a gun, but I never carried a gun. I thought, ‘What the heck was I gonna do with a dumb gun?'” Stephanie’s most valuable weapon: her wits.

There are relatively few centenarians buried at Arlington National Cemetery, even fewer who are female, and only a mere fraction of those who served as intelligence officers.

Captain Czech was a woman ahead of her time.

Not only did she go to college, but she eventually earned a master’s degree – in chemistry.

She caught the attention of the OSS, which sent her on an undercover mission to Warsaw at a time when women were restricted from working in a military or intelligence capacity in Poland.

Stephanie narrowly evaded capture by the Russians and still successfully completed her mission.

It wasn’t until decades later that the details of her amazing story were declassified.

Read More

Mar 07, 2019 Ask Molly: March 7, 2019

Q: Dear Ms. Hale,

As a little girl, I dreamed of being in the CIA but never thought it was actually possible. What advice do you have for youth who would like to learn more about serving their country? Thank you!

~ Seeking to Serve

A: Dear Seeking to Serve,

It always makes me smile when I get letters from young people throughout the United States who have a passion for public service. There are tons of different ways you can serve your country – like the military, community service, law enforcement, paramedics, education, infrastructure, and social services, among others – and of course, coming to work for us!

I know it sounds generic, but to work at the CIA, there’s no “right” college major, background, or even skillset. We’re a very diverse workplace, both in terms of the types of jobs we staff as well as the people we hire.

The best advice I can give is to do well in what you’re interested in: whether that be science, computers, history, law, medicine, art, literature, mechanics, or something else, and get good grades in school. Most careers here require at least a college degree.

Other than that, learn as much as you can about the Agency and the different types of jobs we have. Go to career fairs, talk with Agency recruiters and former officers if you get the opportunity, ask a lot of questions, and do a lot of research.

A good place to start learning about the Agency is There’s lots of great information hidden in the nooks and crannies of our site. Poke around and see what you can find.

Of course, the careers section is a must-visit for anyone interested in working here. (We have an entire area dedicated to student opportunities, which has a lot of great information). I’d also recommend checking out our “Day in the Life” series. Agency employees, and even some student interns, share their experiences and usually provide some good advice. Here’s a few to get your started:

Hopefully that’s helpful! Whatever you decide to do, I think it’s wonderful you want to serve your country. I wish you luck in all your future endeavors.

~ Molly

Feb 28, 2019 Ask Molly: February 28, 2019

Dear Molly,

Is Any movie about the CIA in anyway accurate or true? Even a little bit. #AskMollyHale

~ Film Buff 007

Dear Film Buff 007,

All Hollywood films and television shows, of course, take liberties when they portray the CIA, CIA officers, or intelligence work. I can’t really generalize and say “this film is accurate,” and “that film is total bunk.” They all probably contain some elements of truth and some of fiction.

Instead, I’d highly encourage you to explore our #ReelvsRealCIA series, which seeks to demystify the CIA’s mission by comparing what’s portrayed in Hollywood to what happens in reality. We’ve reviewed several Hollywood productions, both on our website and on social media. (You may have seen our recent Black Panther tweets during the Oscars or our Argo tweets from a few years ago).

Here are some links to get you started:

Lastly, an insider tip: If there’s one Hollywood habit that drives everyone who works for the Agency bonkers, it’s calling us agents. It might seem silly, but in the real-world lexicon of spies there’s a huge difference between the two: Americans who work for the CIA are called “officers,” while foreigners who provide information or intelligence to the CIA (the actual “spies”) are called “agents.”

Thanks for the great question!

~ Molly

Feb 22, 2019 Ask Molly: February 22, 2019

@CIA #AskMollyHale What’s your favorite thing about working for the CIA?

Dear @MaceTheSpaceDog,

Driving an Aston Martin, of course. Just kidding!

The best thing about working for the CIA is being part of an important mission bigger than yourself, working alongside dedicated and humble Americans who are passionate about protecting our country. You’re part of a team, a family, even if your role is a less traditional one, like “Molly Hale.”

The people who work at the Agency come from a range of backgrounds, and we have almost every job imaginable here. In addition to the jobs you may think of when CIA comes to mind, such as analysts and operations officers, we also have accountants, mediators, doctors, photographers, and even hairdressers. (Yes, even hairdressers! We have disguise artists who must create elaborate and believable disguises for our operations officers overseas, so we employ people who are seamstresses, hairdressers, and makeup artists. Pretty cool, huh?)

That’s one thing about working at CIA that many people don’t realize: Once you become a CIA officer, the opportunities are endless.

~ Molly

Feb 19, 2019 To Catch a Spy: 25th Anniversary of the Aldrich Ames Arrest

Aldrich Ames was one of the most damaging moles in CIA history. He compromised numerous CIA assets in the Soviet Union, some of whom were executed.

Twenty-five years ago this week, Ames was arrested because of the work of a small team of CIA officers led by a quiet, unassuming gray-haired woman named Jeanne Vertefeuille.

The Spy Hunters:

Jeanne Vertefeuille is a far cry from the spy hunters portrayed in movies, but appearances can be deceiving.

She started at CIA as a typist in 1954, and as professional opportunities for female officers became more numerous, she got assignments at various posts overseas. She learned Russian and finally found her niche in counterintelligence.

In the spring of 1985, after an alarming number of Agency assets run against the Soviet Union disappeared in rapid succession, Jeanne was asked to lead a five-person investigative team to figure out what or who was behind the disappearances.

The task was a long and exhaustive one, complicated by the fact that many in the CIA did not believe there was a traitor in their midst. Among the other explanations floated was the idea that outsiders were intercepting CIA communications.

An extensive search ultimately yielded the answer: Ames, who was initially working in the Agency’s Soviet counterintelligence division, began spying for the USSR in 1985.

Ames’ position gave him the perfect cover because he was authorized to meet with Soviet officers for official purposes. It was his extravagant lifestyle, however, that brought him under the task force’s suspicion in November 1989.

The Breakthrough:

The big breakthrough came in August 1992, when Jeanne’s colleague, Sandy Grimes, discovered Ames made large bank-account deposits after every meeting with a particular Soviet official.

The FBI took over the investigation and used surveillance, as well as evidence discovered in Ames’ house and on his home computer, to build the case. He was arrested outside his home on February 21, 1994.

During his nine years of spying, Ames received payments from the Soviet KGB that totaled $2.5 million. The KGB kept another $2.1 million earmarked for Ames in a Moscow bank. Ames is the highest paid spy in American history.

On April 28, 1994, Ames plead guilty and is now serving a life sentence without parole in a federal prison.

Feb 14, 2019 Ask Molly: February 14, 2019

Dear Molly,

I met someone on an online dating site who says he’s a CIA officer, but I don’t know if he’s telling me the truth. The more we talked the more things didn’t match up. He said that because he works for the CIA, I had to do a background check or else he couldn’t keep talking to me. How do I know this person is really in the CIA, and if this email is legitimate? Is it safe to submit my personal information?

~ Plenty of Phish

Dear Plenty of Phish (and all you lonely hearts out there),

It’s almost Valentine’s Day. If you, like many Americans, are looking for love online, be careful. Please DO NOT give your personal information to anyone on a dating site claiming to be a CIA officer. Best case, they have an overblown ego and bad judgment; worst case, it’s a scam designed to steal your financial information. Don’t take the bait. Unfortunately, our security officers have been hearing more frequently about this particular con. It’s a type of “phishing” scam. (For those that don’t know, “phishing” is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, account numbers, credit card details, and other personally identifying information via electronic communication).

These con artists go onto dating sites and chat up potential victims, pretending to look for love or a date. He (or she) weaves a sorry tale about being a super-secret CIA officer working on a dangerous mission overseas, and then drops the devastating news: she/he will no longer be able to communicate with you unless you submit to a CIA background investigation. Or he needs to designate you as a beneficiary in case he dies on his super-secret mission. Or some other compelling, but fake, reason why he needs your personal information.

Don’t fall for it. We may be one of the world’s most secretive and mysterious workplaces, but the CIA will never solicit information from you in this way. If you or anyone you know has been a victim of this scam, or if you come across someone impersonating a CIA officer, please contact your local law enforcement agency or the FBI.

A word to the wise: If it seems fishy, it’s probably phishing.

~ Molly

Feb 07, 2019 Ask Molly: February 7, 2019

Dear Molly,

What are a couple of the biggest differences between the @FBI and the @CIA?

~ Who’s Who

Dear Who’s Who,

Great question. Lots of people get the CIA and FBI confused.

The CIA’s mission is to collect foreign intelligence overseas, where as the FBI addresses domestic issues.

The CIA does not have law enforcement authority and does not collect information concerning the domestic activities of American citizens. (We do, however, have our own federal police force called the Special Protective Services who are responsible for protecting CIA employees and facilities).

The FBI, on the other hand, is the US government agency that investigates crimes on American soil and against American citizens abroad. The FBI is a law enforcement agency and is responsible for intelligence matters in the United States, especially those directed against US citizens. We do frequently work closely with the FBI, but our roles in keeping America safe are very different.

Hope that helps clarify things!

~ Molly