NSA Career Possibilities
NARRATOR VOICEOVER (AMIR): The world is a dangerous place. Every day, we are faced with new threats to our nation's security. Our adversaries do their best to keep their plans, capabilities and identities a secret. At the National Security Agency, we uncover those secrets. And keep our own secrets safe. But as the world becomes more and more technologically advanced, this mission becomes more challenging. That is why NSA employs only the most intelligent people in the country. Today, I would like to introduce myself and others who work at NSA. By listening to our stories, you will learn about the importance of the work we do, and how you can put your intelligence to work for the safety of our future.
CAROLINE VOICEOVER: All my life I've been pushing myself to go a little faster, be a little smarter. Thinking back, I clearly remember the point in time I decided to join NSA.
TERRANCE VOICEOVER: I always wanted to work in international affairs. I really enjoy debating global strategies and thinking critically about the world in which we live.
AMIR VOICEOVER: For me, I definitely remember a distinct turning point in my life. When I was a child, my family and I moved to the United States, looking for freedom and opportunity.
JULIE VOICEOVER: Math always fascinated me. As a kid, I was obsessed with puzzles, and mystery stories, too. But it wasn't until high school that I saw the connection, and started to realize that there were other kids out there – like me.
CAROLINE VOICEOVER: Back in school, I wasn't really focused on a long-term career – I just knew I had my mind set on computer science. I imagined myself running projects within some serious high-tech environment using technology that wouldn't be in the marketplace for years. I just wasn't sure where to put my time and energy.
Well, I graduated college. The dot-com boom was hot. So, I headed to Silicon Valley. The hours were endless. But I was single then and could handle the crazy lifestyle. Then, the bubble burst. The dot-coms were crashing every hour and I was left without a job.
While I was talking with an old friend from school, she reminded me about NSA and how they use cutting-edge technology. So I decided to go to their Web site and see what they had to offer.
CAROLINE: And it was all there: hardware and software development, network security, a stable environment and the chance to contribute to the safety of our nation.
CAROLINE VOICEOVER: And those last two things – a stable job and a safer world – are what really drew me in, and that's even more important to me now – now that I have my daughters to take care of.
TERRANCE: Maybe "epiphany" is too strong a word, but when I heard about NSA, I knew I could make a serious impact on the world. I was already a member of the Army Reserves, but what I really thrive on is finding solutions to challenging problems. I knew I could put my intelligence to work at NSA.
TERRANCE VOICEOVER: What really appealed to me was that NSA is the only intelligence agency that has an Intelligence Analyst Development Program. So people like myself, who are changing careers or someone who just finished college with the right background, can be properly trained.
JULIE: I was lucky enough to go to a school that participated in the Sonia Kovalevsky High School Mathematics Day events that NSA helps to sponsor ... and, later on, I connected with the NSA Mathematics Summer Employment Program. I discovered that there was a whole network of people, all over the country, who love math as much as I do. So it gradually dawned on me: cracking foreign codes ... what a cool idea!
AMIR VOICEOVER: As a child, I experienced first-hand the turbulent way of life in the Middle East and I was really excited about coming to the United States. Once in the U.S., I had so many choices I didn't know what path to take. I went to college, and had some great opportunities, but I never felt completely fulfilled.
AMIR: Then it happened ... the September 11 attacks. That changed everything – for all of us. That's when I knew. As a U.S. citizen, I wanted to help my country. I heard about NSA – The National Security Agency. I looked into it and found that I could use my knowledge of Arabic to help fight terrorism.
TERRANCE: As an intelligence analyst, I take intercepted signals, put them into context, draw conclusions and provide concise reports to U.S. policy makers and military leaders. Very often, the work I'm doing helps to combat terrorism.
TERRANCE VOICEOVER: The ramifications can be global, whether we're supporting military operations, analyzing foreign intel, or preventing breaches of the U.S. information infrastructure. Critical thinking and pattern recognition are what we're good at, and when I say good, I mean GOOD.
JULIE: Some of the toughest problems facing the nation come through NSA. Just look around, wherever there is international conflict, terrorist threats, or drug trafficking, we are the ones getting the intelligence about it.
AMIR: We have an impact on the future of the world ... I think about my nephew's future ... that's my motivation. But, then, I've always loved to delve into other cultures, too. Translating and analyzing what people are saying, feeling, thinking – that's the exciting part of this work. You know, I can actually see the potential impact that I would have on world events.
CAROLINE: Well, I'm a computer scientist, so one of the primary attractions to NSA is that it has always been THE high-tech intelligence agency. Today, at my fingertips, I have access to technology that is years away from commercial release.
CAROLINE VOICEOVER: I spend my time solving problems, testing approaches, researching solutions, and creating new intelligence gathering tools. At NSA, you have the opportunity to maximize your knowledge and your ability to be imaginative. They're even helping me earn my master's degree through the After Hours College Program.
CAROLINE: The other thing is the people. The people I work with are incredibly smart. Early on I connected with a mentor who really helped me to concentrate on excelling at my job – and staying balanced as a human being.
CAROLINE TO ONSCREEN COLLEAGUE: Nobody's getting through that.
AMIR VOICEOVER: As a language analyst, I give U.S. policy makers, the military and people in the Intelligence Community the understanding they need to do their jobs here and abroad by researching, translating, analyzing material.
AMIR: Arabic is my specialty, but NSA needs people who know many other languages too. The great thing about working for NSA is that it gives us the training to build our language skills.
JULIE VOICEOVER: I'm a mathematician at NSA – and I love it! During the day, I get to work with a team of the finest minds in the country analyzing real data, writing code, and running code tests. We apply number theory, group theory, finite field theory, probability theory ... linear algebra ... statistics ... combinatorics ... you name it. Whatever it takes to sort out signals, break cyphers and come up with secure algorithms. We take on the most challenging problems you can imagine.
JULIE: I'm also working toward my Ph.D., under the NSA 20/20 program. I go to school in the evening, and NSA pays for my classes. My hours are flexible, so I never have to miss a class.
TERRANCE: The benefits are great and the pay is a lot better than what some people think. My first year, I had 36 paid days off. More importantly though, I am excited to come to work – everyday presents a new, challenging problem to solve!
CAROLINE: You can work in technology anywhere. But when you work in technology at NSA, you're protecting the future of our country. No exaggeration. And that's something that we're all proud of.
TERRANCE: Every time I take on a new challenge, I know I made the right choice to come to NSA.
JULIE: I'm part of a team of brilliant people with a clearly vital mission. What I do is extremely gratifying because I know I am making a difference – sometimes small – sometimes affecting the course of history.
AMIR: With NSA, I'm using my language skills and intelligence to contribute to the nation's security. And there's no better reward than knowing that your work can actually save lives.
AMIR VOICEOVER: For more information and to apply online, visit the NSA Web site at www.nsa.gov/Careers. Now is your chance to make a difference and put your intelligence to work.
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