One of our most popular employer groups in government, the intelligence community comprises seventeen different agencies within the U.S. federal government. Intelligence careers include covert operations, back office jobs such as finance, accounting, and human resources, and even have spots for those interested in modeling, makeup, and artistry.
Intelligence agencies commonly look for students who demonstrate leadership, teamwork, advanced critical thinking skills, superb communication skills (oral and written), and a commitment to the common good. Contrary to popular opinion, working in intelligence does not mean accolades galore — rather, you will work in the shadows, often with people close to you never knowing what you do at work. You will have access to lots of information, and be able to speak to many of the issues you see day-to-day in the media, but will be unable to even hint that you know what is going on. The work can be hard — but incredibly rewarding. And leadership and career opportunities abound!
On this page, you will find multiple resources designed to help you start your search for opportunities within the intelligence community. To begin, be sure to bookmark intelligence.gov and intelligencecareers.gov to learn more about the agencies that make up this broad and interesting community, and to begin searching for opportunities.
There are a few things that make intelligence jobs different from other jobs. One is the application timeline. For intelligence positions, you should plan to submit an application at least one year before you anticipate obtaining a job or internship. This allows for the time necessary to complete the extensive background investigation process. Some agencies, like the CIA and FBI, have specific deadlines for their summer job and internship opportunities. Others have more general, rolling admissions.
Two: the background investigation process is often a requirement for jobs in this community. If you are considering a career in intelligence, you should keep your nose clean. Stay away from underage drinking, use of illicit substances (which includes marijuana, and misuse of prescription drugs, including Adderall or Ritalin), and maintain a good financial background (don’t rack up lots of credit card debt, and be sure to pay all your bills on time). Above all, be honest in your application. Do not think that investigators won’t find out about a time you made a poor decision that resulted in disciplinary action (or worse). And be honest about any medical situations you may be facing — including mental health issues. None of these declarations will render you unfit for service, but lying about them and having them come out in the process might.
In our Handshake resources, you will find some specific tips and information about different intelligence agencies such as the CIA and FBI.
Intelligence Community Unplugged with Michael Cassidy
To learn more about the intelligence community, including insights about culture, lifestyle, the security clearance process, check out this presentation from Michael Cassidy, a coach at the SFS’s Graduate Career Center.