Author Topic: Senior in high school career path question  (Read 1560 times)

Old Ball Coach

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Senior in high school career path question
« on: April 28, 2021, 08:37:30 AM »
My daughter will be graduating this fall and has been accepted to our state university (Minnesota-Twin Cities campus). She really wants to go into criminal justice and go down the path of FBI/CIA, etc.. She would like to add a psychology minor with her criminal behavior and deviance major.

Does anyone have any insight on specific degrees, internships, etc she should be looking for in this area to stand out. I am sure FBI/CIA jobs are highly competitive positions.

FIFoFum

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2021, 09:24:42 AM »
Don't overlook the importance of proficiency in a foreign language(s) for FBI or CIA jobs. They typically list which languages are most in demand & you can see the language difficulty rating (how hard it is to learn/become proficient).

I imagine plenty of college students will major/minor in things like criminal behavior and psychology, but not many are going to take four years of one of the in-demand languages (e.g., Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, etc.) to go with that.

Watchmaker

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2021, 09:33:14 AM »
I considered a career with the FBI when I was younger. Learning a critical foreign language is probably the best thing she could do to increase her chances. That is even more true for the CIA. (I see FIFoFum just said the same thing while I was typing).

In addition to criminal justice, they also recruit people with science, engineering, and accounting backgrounds.


EricEng

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2021, 10:00:57 AM »
Foreign languages with CIA/FBI is only a factor for certain career tracks with them.  Lots of their other career paths don't really care about languages, such as technical fields unless you want to be a CIA field agent.  The languages they want are also the real hard odd ones that can change by the time you finish fluency...

I will say the FBI falls into the same trap military does by focusing a bit too heavy on PT scores for desk jobs.
CIA interview process is really weird to say the least.  I would advise to not tell anyone she even applied to CIA and do NOT tell ANYONE (even parents you are living with) you had an interview.  Your process will stop dead.  One CIA spook I knew was a commercial truck driver for 10 years prior.  They hired him for his knowledge of logistics and shipping process for help in smuggling investigations.  Lot of them had non traditional backgrounds who had industry knowledge they wanted (teachers, business men, nurses, etc).

As for recommendations, not much.  That is a super tough field to get into and I don't think a criminal justice degree will suffice.  I had some friends in college who tried to go and got 0 traction.  I only got to interviews for both with years of overseas intel and surveillance work for the military and still got shut down.  They both really like police, detectives, and certain former military career paths.  She could try interning at a major defense corporation.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2021, 10:12:21 AM by EricEng »

Spiffy

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2021, 10:03:32 AM »
ROTC and the military can also be a path to those types of jobs. It isn't an easy option, you have to be healthy and physically fit, but there are scholarships available.

Old Ball Coach

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2021, 10:10:24 AM »
Thanks for the replies. She's done four years of Spanish in high school, not sure that it is considered an "in-demand" language for that arena. I'll have her look into the language portion offered there in conjunction with her degree.

EricEng

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2021, 10:17:01 AM »
Thanks for the replies. She's done four years of Spanish in high school, not sure that it is considered an "in-demand" language for that arena. I'll have her look into the language portion offered there in conjunction with her degree.
Sorry, but Spanish will be of no help.  They have millions of native speakers these days who grew up fluently in bot Spanish and English as American children.  They want things like Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Farsi, Pashto.  You will probably not reach a fluency level with those to be of considerable value. They love American born children of immigrants whose parents taught them those from birth.  Immigrated as a child is their second choice.

She could look into a degree in linguistics for CIA interest.  At that point you can usually learn how to learn languages well and pick up a 4-6 languages to a useful level.  They also include some of the psychology you were mentioning.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2021, 10:23:33 AM by EricEng »

mm1970

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2021, 10:21:36 AM »
I would think that Russian, Arabic, and maybe French would be useful.

I knew a guy who worked for the "Agency" (wasn't a spook).  It was kind of the family business.  But then he BECAME a spook, and we had to all pretend that we never knew he worked for the Agency.

I also know a guy who got out of the military to work in a similar type of job ... he travels all over working in Foreign service, and they send him to language school before each change...and he's needed Farsi, French, and Russian so far.

EricEng

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2021, 10:25:46 AM »
I knew a guy who worked for the "Agency" (wasn't a spook).  It was kind of the family business.  But then he BECAME a spook, and we had to all pretend that we never knew he worked for the Agency.

I also know a guy who got out of the military to work in a similar type of job ... he travels all over working in Foreign service, and they send him to language school before each change...and he's needed Farsi, French, and Russian so far.
They will commonly claim to work for the State Department while hoping to embassies in those countries.  It is hard to go from a known CIA desk jokey to actual spook.  They far prefer if you have 0 past connection at all.

Ladychips

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2021, 11:05:11 AM »
I have a friend whose spouse is retired FBI.  He said the number one qualification was that you when you answered "no, Ive never smoked pot," you could still pass the polygraph.

draco44

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2021, 11:25:56 AM »
People, not everyone who works for the CIA is a spy. They and FBI have tons of positions that are desk jockey analyst positions. And other stuff like HR staff and budget managers and such, just like any other big government agency. It sounds like the OP's daughter might be interested in some type of analyst track.

Yes, I am sure there are weird security elements to applying to positions there, but I think it would be helpful to the daughter to remember she is applying to a federal job, and the first rule of applying to a government position is to read the fine print, get your paperwork in order, and follow instructions. I did some quick googling and like basically any other government agency, both agencies have undergraduate internship programs (https://www.cia.gov/careers/jobs/undergraduate-internship-co-op-program-intelligence-analyst/; https://www.fbijobs.gov/students/undergrad). Applying to those would obviously be a good move, though some of the other suggestions given could be good backups if she's not accepted to those internship programs. Also, have her create a federal resume and create a profile on USAjobs.com.

Second rule of government positions (even internships) is to apply early and be prepared to wait forever to hear back. Also, pay attention to the total hour requirements of the internship program. Students can get burned by thinking they'd have a gov. internship one summer before they graduate, then not have time to fit all their hours in.

Re. not telling anyone you are applying for positions: be discreet, yes, but depending on the position gov. posts often require you to list personal references, who the recruiters WILL actually call, as a test of not only your professional qualifications but your honesty and mental stability. If you need to list references, TELL THEM they are your reference and might be contacted. Or really, ask first if they are willing to be a reference.

Old Ball Coach

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2021, 12:36:26 PM »
@draco44 WOW! Thanks for that link! I guess I thought all of their information would be much less "visible". Definitely having her go through this information. It's so clear and to the point. I definitely don't think she is thinking of wanting to be a "spy". She is more into the forensics and profiling area. She's a "Criminal Minds" junkie although I've told her that that isn't an actual job with the FBI. She loves analyzing those kinds of cases though.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2021, 01:44:27 PM »
I have a friend whose spouse is retired FBI.  He said the number one qualification was that you when you answered "no, Ive never smoked pot," you could still pass the polygraph.

Time may have changed, but growing up in the DC area I was around many people with interesting government positions. More than one mentioned not to smoke pot in college if you wanted to a job that required a security clearance.

draco44

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2021, 04:32:38 PM »
@draco44 WOW! Thanks for that link! I guess I thought all of their information would be much less "visible". Definitely having her go through this information. It's so clear and to the point. I definitely don't think she is thinking of wanting to be a "spy". She is more into the forensics and profiling area. She's a "Criminal Minds" junkie although I've told her that that isn't an actual job with the FBI. She loves analyzing those kinds of cases though.

Happy to help. Good luck to your daughter!

jeninco

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2021, 07:22:54 PM »
I have a friend whose spouse is retired FBI.  He said the number one qualification was that you when you answered "no, Ive never smoked pot," you could still pass the polygraph.

Time may have changed, but growing up in the DC area I was around many people with interesting government positions. More than one mentioned not to smoke pot in college if you wanted to a job that required a security clearance.

My friends who are just now retiring say to use the word "experiment" Otherwise they can't hire anyone except Mormons and members of cult-like evangelical groups (and, I guess, Baptists?)

Mostly, what they say is "don't lie". Because you're a bigger risk if you're trying to hide something then if you just own your youthful, "experimental" "indiscretions".

katsiki

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2021, 07:35:52 PM »
You might have your daughter look into the US Marshals Service also.  A number of different career paths there too.

EricEng

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2021, 12:28:39 PM »
I have a friend whose spouse is retired FBI.  He said the number one qualification was that you when you answered "no, Ive never smoked pot," you could still pass the polygraph.

Time may have changed, but growing up in the DC area I was around many people with interesting government positions. More than one mentioned not to smoke pot in college if you wanted to a job that required a security clearance.

My friends who are just now retiring say to use the word "experiment" Otherwise they can't hire anyone except Mormons and members of cult-like evangelical groups (and, I guess, Baptists?)

Mostly, what they say is "don't lie". Because you're a bigger risk if you're trying to hide something then if you just own your youthful, "experimental" "indiscretions".
What Jeninco said is accurate. This isn't much of an issue anymore.  You can not currently be smoking pot though!  However, a past of smoking and even a conviction for possession isn't an issue (distribution is harder).  Critical piece is you have to be honest and open about it so they don't think it could be used to extort you later.  IE: You tell investigator you smoked and got arrested in college.  When investigator asks friends and coworkers if you smoked in the past and they ALL said "no", it looks like you are hiding it.  For the clearance process they will interview past roommates, neighbors, coworkers, managers and want to speak to people that have been into your home often (to confirm you reside there and not running a drug/terrorist operation out of it).

Many of my coworkers have to report their past mary jane use on every clearance app and renewal, but it is almost never an issue (DoD clearances).

Re. not telling anyone you are applying for positions: be discreet, yes, but depending on the position gov. posts often require you to list personal references, who the recruiters WILL actually call, as a test of not only your professional qualifications but your honesty and mental stability. If you need to list references, TELL THEM they are your reference and might be contacted. Or really, ask first if they are willing to be a reference.
Tell your references you are applying for a govt/fed job, do not specify agency or position applied for.  Tell them what skills and experiences you would like them to stress or relate.  When they call your references they will NOT say they are with CIA or NSA (FBI, I'm not sure, maybe?), but will usually make up some other agency if they provide any.

Correct, USAJobs is required to apply for any of those departments.  The application is LONG. Don't rush it.

Old Ball Coach

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2021, 06:34:07 PM »
@EricEng

Thanks so much for the detailed info! More and more info to go through on how to apply and what career path to choose for her. So many different options in those fields, not just a one-size-fits-all!

BlueHouse

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2021, 07:12:36 PM »
It's almost impossible to get hired into most career government positions now unless there is some "in".  There are just too many veterans looking for jobs and too many existing govvies that want transfers within government positions. 

Almost all entry-level jobs go to people coming up through the Pathways program.  So tell the senior to start applying to jobs through USAJobs in the Pathways program and that's how they'll get hired after graduation. 


Freedomin5

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2021, 03:41:21 AM »
If she likes criminal minds, she could also consider forensic psychology. She would probably need to do her PhD in clinical psychology, focusing on forensics. Lots of jobs in prisons and in forensic hospitals or as an expert witness.

Anon-E-Mouze

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2021, 10:28:50 AM »
Something that is relevant not just for your daughter, but also for other college students, is to keep in mind that there are options for learning certain subjects (like foreign languages) other than as part of their university program.

I've always enjoyed learning new subjects, but one thing I wish I'd realized in late high school and university is that I didn't have risk my GPA to explore a subject that fell outside my comfort zone. For example, if your daughter is interested in improving her Spanish or adding a new "high demand" language to her knowledge set, she could first try taking the course through an unaccredited institution (including, potentially a free or very cheap program). That way, she could find out if she's really interested in the subject and confirm that she's got the aptitude to learn it. Also, it's a bit of a waste of an expensive university education to devote credits to the beginner stage of learning a new language. (More advanced levels of study especially if one becomes interested in the history of the language, comparative languages or literature, are worth it to study at university.)

The same holds true for certain other subjects that might fall outside someone's comfort zone. I really wish I'd taken a basic accounting course and a basic finance course when I was in university, both because the knowledge would be useful and because it would have enhanced my employability. As a history/English Lit student, however, I was concerned that I didn't have the aptitude for these subjects, and was concerned that low grades would pull my GPA down, so I avoided them. (As it turned out, when I wrote level 1 of the CFA 15 years later, I discovered I was quite good at these subjects.) Again, these subjects at the introductory level aren't topics that need to be learned at university (especially at university-level tuition fees). Statistics, computer science and data science are other examples of subjects that are worth exploring first outside the university environment.

So, I encourage parents to encourage their kids to experiment with subjects that might interest them or be useful, but consider carefully whether college or university is the best venue (from a GPA risk and cost perspective) to experiment. The student can try such courses in the summer, or another period when academic demands are low, through an alternative education resource (e.g. a MOOC, a language school or immersion program, LinkedIn Learning etc) and see if they enjoy the course and are a good at it. Then, once they've mastered the basics, they can consider pursuing the course at a university level for credit if appropriate.

lhamo

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Re: Senior in high school career path question
« Reply #21 on: May 31, 2021, 01:20:27 PM »
If she does decide to pursue a critical language, she should definitely apply for a Boren Scholarship -- alumni of the program have a federal service requirement and are given access to federal government job opportunities that would normally not be open to recent college grads.

https://www.borenawards.org/