The National Security Agency ~ Get Your Foot in the Door

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File:High school students.jpgIn our last blog we talked about the U.S. Intelligence Community (17 agencies that provide intelligence to the country’s administration and military chiefs for the ultimate purpose of national security); specifically we delved into the National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS). Let’s take a look at some of the careers at this federal signals intelligence agency.

Careers at the NSA/CSS

High-Tech Careers: The NSA/CSS offers a number of career opportunities for computer scientists and computer/electrical engineers in areas such as information assurance, network operations, web design, information security, vulnerability discovery, and development of projects, such as electronic communication systems and pattern recognition programs.

Intelligence Analysis/Cryptanalysis: Careers under these two categories involve researching and analysing information from foreign signals to present relevant and clear signals intelligence (SIGNIT) and/or uncovering hidden features within an information system. Interestingly enough, the NSA/CSS states that it hires cryptanalysts from a variety of backgrounds (“people with technical and non-technical degrees, ranging from Mathematics to Music, Engineering to History, and Computer Programming to Chemistry”) and trains them through the Cryptanalysis Development Program (CADP).

Language Analysts: The NSA/CSS values those who are fluent in foreign languages as part of the intelligence analysis process, for roles such as translating and transcribing. Particular languages the NSA/CSS specifies are Arabic, Mandarin, Pashto, Persian-Dari, Persian-Farsi and Russian, however the agency says you should still apply if you have skills in other languages as their “language requirements can change at any time”.

Criminal Justice: The agency employs NSA Police Officers, Investigators, professionals who practice the law and those from other relevant disciplines.

For more information on career categories at the NSA/CSS, visit: http://www.nsa.gov/careers/career_fields/index.shtml

Opportunities for Students

The NSA/CSS offers a number of placements for students. While they do not necessarily guarantee long term employment once the program is completed, they certainly help you get your foot in the door while gaining extremely valuable experience.

High School students can participate in a Work Study Program during their senior year. To apply, students “must be a high school junior enrolled in either Business or Technical Computer classes  or printing/graphic arts or manufacturing classes …with plans to participate in a school-sponsored work experience program throughout [their] senior year.” Applications are accepted from September 1st to November 15th during the student’s junior year.

Both undergraduate and graduate university students can apply for numerous internships or co-ops with the NSA/CSS. Relevant majors include computer forensics, cyber security, human resources, computer science, journalism, computer engineering, industrial engineering, management science, environmental science, information assurance, mathematics, occupational health & safety, statistics, operations research, second language (courses), public relations and more. Application deadlines vary.

The NSA/CSS also offers a number of student scholarships.

For more information on opportunities for high school and post secondary students, visit: http://www.nsa.gov/careers/opportunities_4_u/students/index.shtml

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