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A Career with the CIA

By Diana Clarke

On the very popular TV series Alias, Jennifer Garner plays a CIA operative, Sidney Bristow. If you watched Episode One, Season One, you learned that Bristow was a graduate student who became a double agent for the CIA. But in the real world of the CIA, you wouldn't receive permanent employment until you finished college.

But you don't have to wait until you graduate to work for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). You can apply to the Undergraduate Student Internship Program or the Student Scholarship Program.

Students working at the CIA must meet the following requirements:

U.S. citizen


3.0 GPA or better


excellent verbal and written skills


Strong interest in foreign affairs


You will also need to successfully complete physical and psychological exams, a polygraph test, and a background investigation.


The CIA also desires individuals who speak a foreign language and have international military experience.

You should apply to one of the programs at least 6 months before you wish to work. If accepted, you will relocate to Washington DC.

Undergraduate Student Internship Program

During the student internship program, expect to work either one six- month or two three- months sessions. You may apply to the Directorate of Operations Professional Trainee (PT) program and after that if you qualify, you may apply to the Clandestine Service Trainee (CST) program. You will not be awarded college credit for the internship.

Student Scholarship Program

The scholarship program is for high school seniors and college sophomores who are willing to work each summer during each year they are in college. After college, they must work for the CIA for a period 1.5 times the length of their college sponsorship. Transportation and housing allowances will be provided since students will need to relocate to Washington DC. Minorities and those with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Scholarship recipients must meet the following requirements:

18 years of age


3.0 GPA or better


1000 SAT/21 ACT (For high school seniors)


financial need


full-time student


A few words from Jennifer Garner on a career with the CIA


"I'm Jennifer Garner. I play a CIA officer on the ABC TV series Alias. In the real world, the CIA serves as our country's first line of defense in the ongoing war against international terrorism. CIA's mission is clear and direct: safeguard America and its people. And it takes smart people with wide-ranging talents and diverse backgrounds to carry out this mission...people with integrity, common sense, patriotism and courage. The kind of people who have always worked for the agency. But since the tragic events of 9/11, the CIA has an even stronger need for creative, innovative, flexible men and women from diverse backgrounds and a broad range of perspective. Right now, the CIA has important, exciting jobs for US citizens...especially those with foreign language skills. Today, the collection of foreign intelligence has never been more vital for national security. If you're an American citizen and seek a challenging, rewarding career where you can make a difference in the world and here at home, contact the agency at www.cia.gov. Thank you."

KATHY - Ops Officer

"I heard about the Agency during a College Career Fair. Although many other positions sounded intriguing, I was drawn to the idea of living overseas and serving as a collector of intelligence. After receiving extensive training, the Agency put their complete trust in me to travel and recruit foreign agents who provide information, carrying out this entire process in a clandestine manner. Dealing with people, operating with so much independence, and relying on my own street smarts and training to make critical decisions is the ultimate challenge. Every week is different - it can be slow one minute and breakneck speed the next. I've done some thrilling operations that mirror what is seen in the movies, and I feel tremendous pride that I, an average all-American female from an average American family, am the one doing it."

CIA Career Areas

The CIA has career opportunities in the following areas:

analytical positions


professional Positions


language positions


clandestine service


scientists, engineers and technology


Discuss internship and scholarship opportunities with your career advisor or intern coordinator. The CIA also offers graduate student and co-op opportunities.


Source: CIA


www.cia.gov

About The Author

Diana Clarke is a California credentialed teacher who has taught career search skills to adults in Silicon Valley.


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