“We get 100,000 applications every year,” said Sharon C, the CIA’s recruiter for the Pacific South area of the United States. “And that number goes up when a new James Bond movie comes out.”
Despite the mystique of the CIA as portrayed in films and even in Sharon’s business card which lists only her first name and initial of her last name, Sharon said working for the CIA isn’t really like the movies.
“The CIA collects information about what the world is doing as it relates to our national security,” said Sharon, who spoke during Business Madness on Mar. 1. “At the CIA, if you make a difference in your job, you’re making a difference in the country and that’s pretty cool.”
In her presentation, “What’s Your Secret Skill?,” Sharon encouraged students to find their passion and see if they can translate that into a work environment. A “skill” can be anything from being passionate about music to being able to multi-task.
“Some people say ‘I don’t have a skill.’ But if you talk to them, you find out they work at Starbucks, for example – they have had experience multi-tasking and being in a high pressure environment. Those are great skills.” Sharon said.
Sharon, who has worked for the CIA for 18 years, said the federal agency has opportunities in many areas from engineering to finance and even cosmetology. The CIA needs people who are personable as well as people who speak other languages. Sharon encouraged students to apply for internships. About 70 percent of undergraduate interns and 80 percent of graduate interns end up becoming full time.
“Once your foot is in the door you can move around,” Sharon said. “You can change jobs every two to three years.”