The People of the CIA … A Security Captain’s Story
When Sarah’s father passed away in the early 1990s, she realized that it was time to leave her childhood home and experience life. In October 1992, Sarah decided to serve her country by joining the Marines. After basic training, she was assigned to work in security at Quantico. Sarah found that she enjoyed the field. Thus began a journey that eventually took her where she is today: a captain in the Security Protective Services at the Central Intelligence Agency.
The Sky is the Limit
After leaving the Marine Corps, Sarah was in search of new opportunities. On the advice of a colleague from the Marines she applied for a job as a Security Protective Officer (SPO) at the Central Intelligence Agency.
“It was probably the best decision I’ve ever made. I never even thought the CIA was an option for me,” she said. “I didn’t know they had a police force.”
In September 1997, Sarah began her job as a SPO at the Agency. She described her transition from the Marines to the Agency as “easy.”
Over the next 12 years, Sarah gained a deep knowledge of the CIA and the complete security system in place to defend the Agency and its personnel.
Sarah was recently promoted to the rank of Captain within the Security Protective Services, a level few women have reached.
“I know I earned it,” she said. “I’ve accomplished a lot over the past 12 years and I think they picked the right person for the job. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.”
A “Guardian Angel”
During her professional journey, Sarah had a little help from someone she calls a “guardian angel”: her first supervisor at the CIA. As Sarah moved throughout Security Protective Services, she stayed in touch with her unofficial mentor, a fellow Marine.
“He’s my guardian angel. He’s always been there for me. Anytime I’ve ever needed anything, he’s the person I went to,” she said. “I trusted that he would guide me in the right direction. I think he always looked out for me. I really look up to him.”
Sarah has done her best to follow in her mentor’s footsteps and help new SPOs when she can.
“I want to share what I know and help people get to wherever they want to go,” she said. “I want to encourage them move up into a management track or the K-9 Corps or whatever they aspire to do.”
After all she’s achieved, Sarah still plans to push forward.
“I’m not done,” she said. “I’m going to continue to seek those positions above me. My next step would be a major’s position.”
Sarah knows it won’t be easy.
“It’s going to be a challenge getting my new workforce to trust me,” she said. “They don’t know me. They don’t know where I’ve been and what I’ve done.”
Sarah began the process of earning the trust of her new colleagues by sending them a note introducing herself and describing her career so far. It is only the first step.
“My goal is just to build up the trust and a great team,” she said.
Helping Build CIA’s Future
Sarah’s own great experience at the Agency led her to become a hiring advisor. Her advice to those who want to apply to work at the CIA?
“Put your best foot forward,” she said. “You should always present a positive polished image when you’re applying at a place like the Agency.”
Sarah also encourages those who think the CIA is out of their reach to apply.
“I never thought I’d be here,” she said. “I’d never considered working at the Agency because it is so prestigious. It just goes to show that there is no limit to what you can do if you put your mind to it. If you want something bad enough, you’ll get it.”
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