Before retiring, I took a seminar about transitioning to the private sector. All the students were fellow CIA intelligence officers.
At one point, somebody raised a hand and said what everybody was thinking: “I’ve been an intelligence officer my entire professional career. It’s a very unique job. Who would want to hire someone with my skills?”
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We all made sympathetic noises.
The instructor gave a laugh. “How many problems did you solve as an intelligence officer? Really, hard problems?”
“More than I can count,” the student replied.
“Every employer wants a problem solver,” the instructor said. “CIA officers know how to solve problems. In the private sector, that can be a rare commodity.”
The instructor’s words really resonated. Intelligence work is about answering the hard questions in support of US national security, like “Where is Osama Bin Laden?” or “What will the Soviet Union do if Germany reunifies?” or “What will motivate Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear ambitions?”
The answers are not found in the New York Times or the Washington Post.
A CIA career means solving the problem of how to get those answers.
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