Pathways for Non-STEM Students Panel Recap

Pathways for Non-STEM Students Panel Recap  

As a part of Intelligence and Security Careers Day, the Career Center hosted a panel discussion for non-stem students. Below is a recap of the event by panel participant. 

Pete Furia: Moderator 

Director of Global Studies: Security and Justice major at UVA 

Paul: Panelist  


Paul is responsible for agency activity in Central Asia, although he is interested in a variety of interests including counterterrorism, counter-proliferation, and counter narcotics. 

Paul highlighted some summer internship and postgraduate job opportunities. Students interested in working at the CIA should use the Job Fit Tool to learn more about jobs they might be interested in. He recommended jobs in analysis, operations, finance, and big data. The CIA looks for critical thinking, intellectual curiosity, foriegn language skills, foreign interaction, and teamwork, and passion when hiring.  

It is best to enter the CIA workforce early. The CIA works with several contractors in the community, which is one way to get acquainted with the organization. It is important to remember that the security clearance process is long, though. Paul recommended building your skill set while waiting for a security clearance. This could be through NGO or law work, local companies, or military service.


Amy: Panelist 


Amy has held several different careers within the NSA including work in South Asia, counter-terrorism, and counter-proliferation. Now, she focuses on workforce development and recruiting. 

Amy stressed the value of several NSA development programs. The NSA welcomes Liberal Arts majors for the Intelligence Analysis Development Program; a three-year training program for aspiring intelligence analysts. She also recommended language development programs for students with language backgrounds. The NSA hired based off of an aptitude test that you cannot study for. It helps assess critical thinking and problem solving skills. In preparation, a candidate might think about their past experiences, and why they’re interested in the NSA. 

The security process at the NSA is time consuming and usually lasts about one year. Amy recommended to not put all of your eggs in one basket, and apply to jobs across the intelligence community.   

Crystal: Panelist


With a background in psychology, Crystal works in Charlottesville for the army’s intelligence center doing human capital work. She was originally hired as an Arabic voice interceptor, then worked on South Asia and Middle East analysis.  

The NGIC is a smaller organization, but is always looking to hire students with experience in finance, management, and regionally-focussed analysis. In recent years, the NGIC has hired more and more students from campus fairs. The NGIC looks for students who can write long products, and express data in both presentation and written form. 

The security clearance process at the NGIC takes approximately one year. Cystal recommended that applicants will build their skills during this time, especially teamwork and other soft skills. 


Christie: Panelist


Christie is a Human Resources assistant and has worked at the FBI for 5 years. She started as an intern in the Charlottesville office.  

The FBI hires many college students and recent graduates for jobs and internships. They hire for a wide array of positions including professional staff, intelligence analysts, and special agents. The FBI looks for well-rounded individuals with people skills and extracurricular activities. 

The FBI security clearance process takes about one year. Christie recommended that applicants keep their options open, and apply to several different positions. Although there is a large collegiate hiring initiative at the FBI, it is important to be patient while searching for a job. 


Matt: Panelist


Matt is a senior intelligence officer who started as a summer intern in 2002. He was deployed twice to the Middle East and worked in Germany for five years. 

When hiring recent college grads, the DIA looks for intellectual curiosity and transferable skills. DIA is currently tripling their internship program which is a great way to develop skills and get acquainted with the organization. When hiring, the DIA looks for the whole person--including all past experiences. 

A DIA job application includes a resume screening, writing sample, and hiring event. When offices have vacancies, they might hire through hiring pools in which employers can examine specific skill sets. 


Student Q&A

How important is computer science? 

Although data science and computer skills are helpful, they are not necessary. All agencies will help you develop these skills, though. 

Is not having a foreign language a hindrance to being hired?

Many agencies offer language training. Those who have language capability might go straight into language analyst programs, though.