The Amazing Kids! Interview with a CIA AgentBy Natalie, Jr. Assistant Editor
It’s not every day that you bump into a CIA agent, but they are very real people who work hard around the clock. They bring peace and safety, not only to America, but to many countries of the world. We’ve been give the opportunity to ‘chat’ with a real-life CIA agent, who wishes to remain anonymous for security reasons.
Now, the Central Intelligence Agency (also known as CIA) isn’t all fun and games, as some people think and expect. Tons of books and movies portray secret agents with weapons and all sorts of gadgets, running around in gear, jumping from building to building, using cameras built into buttons and glasses and tiny microphones and etc. This is just some of what CIA agents are, but there’s more to it than just fun. You have to be smart, witty, and courageous. You have to know your hard-core facts. Read on for more info!
AK: What inspired you to want to work for the CIA? Can you describe some of your responsibilities?
NA: I was interested in political science, history and world cultures. I thought that working for the CIA would allow me to experience all of that and allow me to go deeper with my understanding of all of these areas by providing me an opportunity to live in foreign environments and really learn about the history and culture of these foreign environments.
AK: How did your dual roles of being a regular American citizen and an agent work together?
NA: How did your dual roles of being a regular American citizen and an agent work together?
AK: What were the ups and downs of being a CIA agent? Was there a particular moment that stands out as a highlight of your career?
NA: I think training and working beside some of the most talented and dedicated individuals would definitely rank as one of the highlights. There were a lot of interesting opportunities throughout the training process that I thought were both physically and mentally demanding-things I never thought I would be doing ever.
AK: What did you want to be as a kid? If you hadn't become a CIA agent, what would you have been?
NA: Oh, I had a number of different careers that I thought I would pursue such as Forest Ranger, Veterinarian, Oceanographer, Doctor and finally Basketball Coach. I was really into animals at a young age so I thought that anything with animals would be a fun career. As it is, I pursued none of those for the most part. I am happy to report however, that I have 3 dogs and 2 cats so I do get to enjoy animals on a daily basis.
AK: How has the CIA's technology helped save lives and lent us a peek into the future of gadgets for the everyday American?
NA: There is a whole division at the CIA that develops new technologies to assist personnel in the field. While I have no personal knowledge of specific technologies that have come out of the CIA and been adopted by everyday folks and I am certain that many efforts that were first developed for the CIA have now been leveraged for use by people on a daily basis.
AK: Does the CIA really use gadgets like they show in the spy movies? Did you have a favorite gadget you used in your work that you can talk about?
NA: They do but I only used a handful of items in my training protocol. My favorite was a miniature camera embedded in any number of different items such as a button placed on a jacket.
AK: Many people seem to think that the CIA is all about gadgets and gizmos, but how do abilities such as critical thinking and problem-solving, etc. play an important role in the life of a CIA agent?
NA: These are the MOST critical skills that any individual can possess. The ability to understand culture, history, motivations of individuals, etc. is crucial to succeeding in this space. Most of my colleagues in my training class had Ph.D.ís, J.D.ís and Master degrees. They also had several language proficiencies already, often more than 1 or 2 languages that they were fluent in.
AK: CIA agents often have to know several languages; which languages do you know, and why did you learn them all?
NA: I had four years of French so I was going to go through a French immersion process. Eventually, my interest was to learn Mandarin Chinese.
AK: If a kid wants to grow up and work for the CIA, what tips do you have to offer them?
NA: I always suggest that students obviously focus on their academics as well as their extracurricular activities. Students should pursue a foreign language and should show an interest in learning about/becoming immersed in foreign cultures. This canít be something you just profess an interest in; you must back this up with real exposure and experience with these foreign cultures/environments. Finally, pursue leadership opportunities with non-profits, teams, etc. to show that you can behave independently and have the characteristics to act without just following others.
AK: How did working for the CIA change your life? How did you impact the lives of others?
NA: It gave me the additional confidence that I could do anything. The CIA recruits the best and the brightest but there are only a handful of slots to go around. The CIA has one of the lowest turnover rates among all federal agencies so they lose only a few individuals annually. So if you are lucky enough to get the opportunity to enter the agency and work with these types of individuals, you realize that with hard work and a little bit of luck you can really accomplish just about anything you ever imagined. Today, I am who I am, in part, because of the experience of working in this environment. It is a fantastic career but it is not for everyone.
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