Curious to Know What it's Like to be a Directorate of Operations Intern?

Every officer has a unique path to the Agency, and CIA interns are no exception. We recently polled some former DO undergraduate interns now working as full-time DO officers to illustrate some shared commonalities, as well as differences, in their personal backgrounds and prior internship experiences. Here is a sampling of responses…

What led you to apply for an internship with the CIA and specifically, the DO?

  • Growing up in a US military family, I always felt a calling to serve my country but wanted to pursue a different route than the military. My interest in foreign culture, journalism, languages and travel drew me to the CIA, and the DO seemed like the best way to match my interests and skills based on the information provided on
  • I have always been intrigued by the idea of having a career that will help protect others. I was specifically motivated to do counterterrorism (CT) work, and after the capture of Usama bin Ladin, I was reminded of CIA’s strong focus and successful contribution to the CT mission.
  • I wanted to serve my country, and after researching various agencies and departments, I decided CIA’s mission and workforce were the most closely aligned with my character and skill set. I applied for the DO specifically because I enjoy interacting with people, and was seeking a career different from the typical 9 to 5 office job.
  • I read some of the recommended books from the reading list on, which confirmed my decision to apply, and the internship seemed like a great gateway. I had previously been interested in working for the US Government overseas, so the books served more to inform me about how the DO works and what kind of people they hire.

What did you find most enjoyable about your work during the DO internship?

  • I had a lot of responsibility and immediately got to work on high profile issues directly related to counterterrorism. Compared to other friends interning outside of the CIA, I appreciated that I was treated very much as a staff employee as opposed to a summer temp.
  • My favorite part of the job was the people. I have had great experiences with all of my co-workers and found that everyone was willing and eager to help me learn during my internship.
  • I most enjoyed being in a team-oriented environment and doing meaningful work to protect our nation.
  • The most enjoyable part about the work was the talented and patriotic group of Americans I’ve had the pleasure to serve with. I found a great number of excellent mentors in the Agency who have helped me navigate my nascent career. I’ve also enjoyed my role in operations from Headquarters—the Agency does amazing work overseas and it has been a privilege to contribute to defending our national security and furthering American interests abroad.

Do you participate in any extracurricular activities? If so, which ones?

  • I hike often and build stuff occasionally. When I was still in school, I also taught computer science and worked in a local prison.
  • I play soccer and do martial arts. I also enjoy running, dancing and reading.
  • I love all sports, particularly tennis and baseball.
  • I participate in external language training, Crossfit and triathlons.

What has most surprised you about working for the CIA and DO?

  • I’m regularly surprised and impressed by the scope of our operations and the creativity of our officers.
  • I’m most surprised by the amount of wide-ranging opportunities in the DO and throughout the Agency.
  • There is more process and coordination that goes on behind the scenes than I think most people realize.
  • The DO is a smaller organization than I expected. I wasn’t surprised, but I’m continually impressed by the creativity we’re willing to entertain.

Read More:

Interested in learning how to become an intern in the DO? Find out here.

To learn more about CIA internships and co-ops, check out our Student Opportunities.

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