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Get to Know the Men & Women of the CIA

This is the second article in our series about the people of the CIA.

What kind of people do you think work at the Agency? Do you think of mysterious men and women who drive sports cars, go to fancy parties, and repel from the tops of buildings? If you do, you’re not alone. But most of the people who work at the CIA are just like you – everyday people who lead normal, everyday lives.

And the people who work for the Agency are not just clandestine officers and analysts. CIA employees bring a variety of expertise to the mission, including cartography, graphic design, editing, and much more.

Here’s your opportunity to meet some real-life CIA employees, find out what they do at the Agency, and why they chose to work here. And perhaps their stories will lead you to consider a career at the CIA.


John – Cartographer

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Geography
Joined the Agency: April 2005

Q: What drew you to the Agency?

A: The sense of mission drew me to the Agency, as far as defending the United States and our freedoms. One of the big things for me was 9/11 and it really got me focused on serving my country in some capacity.

Q: What do you contribute to the mission at the Agency? What is your job as a cartographer at the Agency?

A: As a cartographer, I make maps to inform policymakers from the President on down. Oftentimes our products can visually display what the analytic text is trying to get across. For some people, it’s much easier to learn visually if they can see something and conceptualize it, rather than read a paragraph and a couple of tics. The cartographers are here to complement and strengthen the written analysis.

Q: What have you gained from working at the Agency?

A: I’ve gained a sense of perspective from working at the Agency. I came to the Agency from the private sector and never worked on anything classified. I now have a sense of what national security is, that we do need to be vigilant, we do need to ramp up collection, and US interests need to be protected.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about working at the Agency?

A: The aura of walking into the CIA Headquarters. It definitely took a good two years to start to wear off and it still hasn’t totally worn off. When you go to work, you want to have a job that you like and you want to have a job where you feel like you’re having an impact. You’re not just going to get a paycheck. You’re also adding value to whatever element of society you’re working with.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking of applying to work at the Agency?

A: I would definitely advise them to seek out someone who works either for the Agency--or at the minimum--someone who works for the federal government. When I was thinking about applying I asked a lot of questions and spoke to people I knew that worked at the State Department, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and National Reconnaissance Office. Their insight was quite helpful in helping me to make my final decision.

Darcie – Publications Officer

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Media Arts and Design – Print Journalism
Joined the Agency: June 2007

Q: Why did you join the Agency?

A: I joined the Agency after two of my friends approached me and told me about how much they enjoyed their jobs. I was also fascinated that the Agency offered so many different jobs. There’s something for everyone.

Q: What do you contribute to the mission at the Agency? What is your job as a publications officer?

A: I’m the last line of defense before a piece goes out for publication and ends up in the hands of a policymaker. I check for typos, grammatical errors, and substantive problems. As a publication officer, I want to be sure that the intelligence that the policymakers are receiving is as concise and easy to understand as possible.

Q: What have you gained from working at the Agency?

A: During the time that I’ve been working for the Agency, I’ve gained a new perspective on national security and have started to see the world and current events in a different light. I now have a better understanding of what’s going on in the world because I’ve been reading about it at work.

Q: What opportunities have been made available to you at the Agency?

A: Since I’ve joined the Agency, I’ve had the opportunity to take some writing and editing classes and go on a short rotation to a completely different office. Every learning opportunity that I’ve encountered has improved my performance as an editor.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about working at the Agency?

A: I like that everyone at the Agency works hard, but still knows how to have fun. It’s important to have good morale in your workplace. I’m very proud to work at the Agency.  It still shocks me how big of an impact we have on what’s going on in the world. To know that I may have contributed in some way is just awe inspiring.

Ruby – Graphic Designer

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Political Science
Joined the Agency: June 2006

Q: Why did you join the Agency?

A: I had always been interested in government, and I was a political science major as well at James Madison University. I decided it would be an interesting way of putting both together – my art background and my political science background.

Q: What do you contribute to the mission at the Agency? What is your job as a graphic designer?

A: We assist the different offices of the Directorate of Intelligence with any kind of support the analyst needs to get their message across, whether it be in written publications or logos. It helps analysts visually get out their information and data instead of just using words. Sometimes you don’t have the time to read an entire paper, and a graphic gets the message across in a concise manner. It gives you a snapshot of what the analyst is trying to convey – their message, their point. Lately, a lot of analysts have been coming down and don’t want to write a whole paper, they just want one standalone graphic to hand out while briefing.

Q: What have you gained from working at the Agency?

A: A sense of how to take someone else’s information and put my own twist on it. It’s pushed me to become more creative and to think of things visually. I’m thinking on my own and doing more of my own interpreting while working with the analyst to get what they want as well.

Q: How do you feel about working at the Agency?

A: It’s a neat place. You don’t think of designers being here. It’s cool that they do have designers and they see the importance of it. You do feel appreciated.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about applying?

A: Stick it out. Be patient with the process. It took me two years to get in here. There are always different opportunities within the Agency – different careers. There’s always the potential to learn and grow.

Historical Document
Posted: Jan 31, 2008 08:47 AM
Last Updated: Apr 30, 2013 12:02 PM