Job-seekers gather intelligence on CIA at annual CAPS event

By Dan Kimerling

On Tuesday evening, graduates and undergraduates alike flocked to the Ida Noyes West Lounge for an informational and recruiting session presented by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Matthew Ryan, a first-year in the College, found the meeting very interesting. “You do think of the CIA as an all-knowing, all-seeing machine, but then they come to the University and really want us to go work for them, to bring the knowledge and skills that we learn in the classroom to bear,” Ryan said. Ryan also expressed surprise at how much emphasis the recruiters put on the intelligence analysis part of the organization—the aptly named Directorate of Intelligence (DI).

The DI is one of the three main components of the CIA. The other two branches are the Directorate of Operations (DO) and the Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T). The DO is analogous to what is considered the James Bond line of work, while the DS&T work is similar to the job of the character “Q” of the same film genre.

“The divisions are not that clearly delineated, and the divisions between the security organizations [Domestic and International] did not appear that clear, something that has come to light post 9/11,” Ryan said.

Greg Pesce, a second-year in the College, liked the program because it de-mystified the CIA. “Previously, I had no idea about who worked for the CIA, but the program showed what it was like to work for the agency and opened up the application process,” he said.

A major portion of the program was devoted to a discussion of the application process. “I had no idea about what it exactly entailed, but I always envisioned it to be complex and difficult,” said Pesce.

The program detailed the various opportunities for students, from internships for undergraduates, to employment options for college graduates.

“The CIA meeting was helpful to me because now I know about the various internship and employment possibilities that the organization offers,” said Frank Gonzales, a first-year in the College. “I was surprised and impressed at how targeted the University of Chicago was by CIA recruitment,” he added.

Assistant Director of Employer Relations Meredith Daw said that the University hosts three CIA recruitment events per year, and that the CIA’s office of Near Eastern and South Asian Analysis employs more graduates of the University than graduates of any other college or university. She added that the University hosts recruitment events for the Department of State, the National Security Agency, and the Marine Corps.

The three CIA employees conducting interviews said that the University is one of the most hotly recruited universities for the CIA. They noted that the University’s Near Eastern Language and Civilization (NELC) program in the College is considered one of the best in the county. They also added that a strong education in the liberal arts is an important element the agency looks for in their employees. Critical thinking skills that students develop in the common core help to make them into effective and efficient analysts.