Comments (71)

Oct 25, 2022 - 8:37pm
bearrrrrrrr, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What was it like working for the CIA? How does it differ from common perception vs reality? How selective is it and what do they look for in applicants?

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Nov 20, 2022 - 11:54pm

….not sure but have heard that the exit opps aren't great-it's literally up or out-they will disappear you

Oct 25, 2022 - 8:41pm
Dimonfan, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for doing this, couple of questions.

1. How does one recruit into the CIA? (Doesn't one need to have a military background for this?)

2. Why the CIA route? sounds super cool, but want to know your reasoning 

3. What is your rationale for MBA? what are some of your post MBA goals? 

4. How was preparing for GMAT during, CIA operational stints?

5. Does your family know you were an agent of sorts? how did you talk about your leadership experience to B School given the obvious secrecy surrounding your work?

6. Any idea that you would go back to Gov.? 

Thanks again for doing this!

  • Intern in IB - Cov
Nov 20, 2022 - 11:50pm

1. They'll reach out to you if you're a match. They use the data the nsa collects on you along with your internet search history to decide if they want to recruit you. If they're interested you'll get a message via carrier pigeon

  • Associate 1 in CorpDev
Oct 26, 2022 - 12:59am

Is compensation at the Agency similar to most other government jobs (pretty bad considering all the other opportunities available to young, bright and talented people), or is a bit better?

  • Anonymous Monkey's picture
  • Anonymous Monkey
  • Rank: Chimp
Oct 26, 2022 - 8:45am
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Oct 26, 2022 - 9:38am
BigKahunaBanker🏄🍹🍔, what's your opinion? Comment below:

How many lumen do you emit in dark spaces, and what color on the EM spectrum is your emittance?

...and the Truth shall set you free
  • 2
Oct 26, 2022 - 11:39am
Liam Gallagher, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I've always had a casual interest in the agency but have never applied due to the money aspect as well as a growing number of foreign connections (including my gf) over the last few years. Would that be a large obstacle in terms of applying? Also could you talk a bit about the skills that the agency values that someone coming from a professional (banking/trading/consulting) background might have?

Oct 27, 2022 - 3:28am
conrx, what's your opinion? Comment below:

For instance, a particular Agency role might have you trying to find potential assets who have access to valuable intel. If you find a potential asset, you'll have to pitch that asset to your Chief before actually recruiting them. It's a team effort but the role draws parallels to an equity analyst who might have to pitch a stock. You need to have research and presentation skills before anything ends up being executed.

Sounds like something that exec headhunters would be good at

Oct 26, 2022 - 6:24pm
DeWitt23, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I am not American, but I've always considered a career in the intelligence community.

Were you ever exposed to other agencies? (Five eyes, specifically CSIS) If so what was the perception of the work they were doing? Is it very similar to yours or is it much less interesting?

  • Anonymous Monkey's picture
  • Anonymous Monkey
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Oct 26, 2022 - 7:14pm
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Oct 26, 2022 - 6:27pm

Hey man - Thanks for doing this. I've read through all the responses but I still don't really understand what you do / did when you were with the CIA?

I guess what did your day-to-day look like? And when you say desk work, was it with the CIA (like did you go into an office for the CIA), or did you join another company undercover? Not sure if I'm being clear but I'm just not really understanding what it is you did lol

Oct 26, 2022 - 8:59pm
thevillage, what's your opinion? Comment below:

So in your first tour, you'd report to an entirely different government office where people were doing work for that entity and you would be doing entirely separate CIA work? Your "coworkers" would think you work at that entity?

Like showing up to the USPS office and doing CIA work next to someone sorting mail?

Oct 26, 2022 - 8:37pm
Lawrence3, what's your opinion? Comment below:

How big of a deal would it be in the recruitment process if you were someone who'd been micro-dosing shrooms or experimenting with psychedelics? Is this a prohibitor, or does it matter if you wait a year like I've seen some places online? Always wondered how the agency actually treats this in practice

  • 2
Oct 26, 2022 - 9:26pm
asodhausd, what's your opinion? Comment below:

How transferable is TS-POLY clearance to roles in finance in your opinion? I know a few who get the big bucks working for defense contractors / gov consulting-- but finance seems a bit more difficult to utilize since governments aren't doing M&A/refinancing. Curious if you had any insight into leveraging security clearance in private-side/business more broadly.

Oct 26, 2022 - 9:36pm
asodhausd, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Also what's the scope of consulting gigs with security clearance? Have heard of defense contracts and buying/selling on behalf of government clients, etc., but seems to be more sales-oriented roles bridging the divide between government work and private side from my perspective. Appreciate any breadth you have here!

Oct 27, 2022 - 5:43pm
iercurenc, what's your opinion? Comment below:
[Comment removed by mod team]
Oct 27, 2022 - 1:08am
ifuckinghatefrogs, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for all of the insight.

I'll be working in federal contracting/consulting through one of the large accounting firms. I know you said you weren't too familiar with this space, but I wanted to ask a few general questions:

-How deep is the background scrutiny and overall monitoring of contractors for the CIA?

Obviously, contractors won't necessarily see overseas action or anything like that but I'm sure many of them get pretty in-depth access.

-Are contractors typically hired for very niche skills or do they often serve in areas that are understaffed/can be outsourced?

I assume a bit of both.


Oct 27, 2022 - 10:37am
Hayek, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I know a number of people who worked in the IC at the CIA or NSA. You have an obvious path into the big government consulting firms. If I were you I'd also look at places like Palantir and Anudril Industries and similar firms which are producing solutions to primarily help the 5 eyes militaries and IC.

Cyber security is also a path you should consider, whether at a federal contractor of commercial firm. Lots of people get into cyber without a strict technical background.

  • 2
Oct 27, 2022 - 12:38pm
Hayek, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Remember too working as a contractor at a place like Accenture Federal Services also isn't the same as being at MBB; it's more dynamic than working as a fed but not as fast paced or stressful as being at MBB.

  • 1
Oct 27, 2022 - 10:47am
Smoke Frog, what's your opinion? Comment below:
  1. You mentioned earlier that your pay was about 80k at the start. Do agent ever get close to banking money? Are there many roles that pay 400k+?
  1. Since the pay is weak, are there other incentives to help? Meaning do you have to pay federal taxes? Massive 401k matching? Really awesome insurance?
  1. Does it matter if you're family are immigrants or you're not white? Do they prefer a particular race depending on the time period? Like did they heavily recruit middle eastern citizens during the war on terror?
  1. How bad is it if you only know English and no other languages?
  1. Do you have to take physical tests? Like everyone hired is in good aerobic shape? No fatties allowed? Is weapons training mandatory?
  1. If you worked at the CIA for 30 years, could you retire comfortably with a healthy pension? Can you ever get rich working there your whole career?
  1. Do investment bankers ever move into the CIA? What could they do? Just help with forensics accounting?
Oct 27, 2022 - 11:06am
Hayek, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Lol, nobody in government is making 400k a year, even SES-level folks. This is why so many retired military officers and others get jobs at contractors afterward.

You can, however, retire comfortably enough with a pension.

The counties surrounding Washington, DC are always listed as being among the wealthiest in the country, but that's not because they're stacked with super high income people (although many people there do have high incomes), but rather because they are filled to the brim with dual income households where mom and dad each make 100 - 250k per year.

To answer your other question, I know someone who worked in investment banking who then worked for the FBI doing forensic investigations related to financial crimes / money laundering.

  • 2
  • Anonymous Monkey's picture
  • Anonymous Monkey
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Oct 27, 2022 - 11:33am
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Oct 27, 2022 - 12:45pm
Hayek, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Curious, why / how do people fail weapons training? I'd imagine that many of these folks are ex military, and I'd also guess that many of the non-military folks wouldn't necessarily be expected to have some super high level of proficiency?

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Oct 27, 2022 - 11:06am

I was super interested in an intel job, but was pretty much dissuaded by my father who used to work in government and had a bad experience.

Though, it still crosses the back of my mind, and I was wondering, do they take older people? Like mid-20s and above? I know they focus on recruiting college students and veterans mostly, but was just wondering if that door was solidly closed.

  • Prospect in PE - Growth
Oct 27, 2022 - 3:05pm

I'm a business/econ major at a top school and my ECs/Internships are all business focused, but am also passionate about public service and geopolitics so I've been considering shooting for the agency or NSA or DIA. Do you think that I would have a chance or would my profile be too random for them to consider? Worth noting that I'm personally connected with a lot of folks in the IC, so am not a total outsider to that world. 

Oct 27, 2022 - 3:17pm
AdiosPlus, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Wow this is so interesting.

I would like to know why you chose to go to consulting after CIA. Did you always want to be in consulting or did someone suggest you do it?

What was the day to day life like? What advice would you give someone who's starting out just now?

What life lessons have you learned along the way?

Why Consulting?

Random question: do you think Finance (IB specifically) is not the way forward? A lot of people have been switching to Software Engineering and I wanted to know what you think (I don't know why I'm asking you this but felt like I had to)?

  • Anonymous Monkey's picture
  • Anonymous Monkey
  • Rank: Chimp
Oct 27, 2022 - 5:17pm
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Oct 27, 2022 - 3:56pm
Appley, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Super cool that you were able to work with one of the top government agencies. A few years ago I was interviewing with another agency of similar caliber and would have started my career with them but unfortunately couldn't get through the security clearance :(. I was at the final step of the process too.

Not sure if you would know -- or are even allowed to comment on it lol -- but do you know what factors would eliminate someone from a clearance? Would insufficient work experience be enough to not grant a candidate clearance? I suspect that could have been the reason why (I think the hiring manager didn't know what he was doing earlier on in the process). I also think I was talking too much out of anxiety, but otherwise I had a super straitlaced record.

Oct 28, 2022 - 3:06pm
Hayek, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Do you have any family members who are from a foreign country and/or have served as foreign government officials or in the military? That could do it.

  • Associate 1 in RE - Comm
Oct 28, 2022 - 4:32pm

You were under non official cover and are writing about experiences on a blog? I am immediately dubious given one of my parents was under NOC and won't even confirm that with our family…

  • Anonymous Monkey's picture
  • Anonymous Monkey
  • Rank: Chimp
Nov 2, 2022 - 10:35pm
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It was a good thread. Just didn't want the information lingering on here. Hoping it still provided value for those that were able to read.

Nov 7, 2022 - 7:42am
lorrainepperson, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Nov 7, 2022 - 7:48am
lorrainepperson, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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[Comment removed by mod team]
Nov 18, 2022 - 9:51am
Ruhm, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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