CIA spies for new agents at UA

By Joe Ferguson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Seventy students packed into a small meeting room at the Marriott University Park last night to listen to experts talk about job opportunities within the CIA.

Much of the information session, which lasted two hours, was focused on recruitment for the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence. Most of the jobs mentioned were analytical in nature.

A recruiter for the CIA, David Burris, said this was his seventh year coming to the UA.

"We appreciate the ability to hire bright and intelligent people," Burris said.

Burris said there were several departments that made the UA an attractive campus to recruit on. He named the department of Near Eastern studies, the department of Slavic studies and the center for Middle Eastern studies as several departments where the CIA is interested in talking to possible recruits.

Burris said interest in these programs has to do with the current political situations in these geographical areas.

Another reason why the UA is attractive to the CIA, Burris said, are the Arabic and Persian language programs.

He said people fluent in these languages are in demand because the 90 percent of the information the CIA collects is from open sources. An example of an open source might be a foreign newspaper or a television broadcast.

Burris said while translations of these sources might be readily available, a CIA analyst who is fluent in Arabic would be able to translate the information as well as identify nuances not picked up by a casual translation.

Five CIA analysts joined Burris at the information session. Because of their positions in the agency, they asked only to be identified by first name.

Matt, who said he is a UA alumnus, said working for the CIA has given him the chance to travel around the world for the CIA.

"It is a very rewarding experience," he said.

Matt said he recently had the chance to brief the U.S. Vice President as well as the first lady on his area of specialty, Chinese leadership.

Dave said the CIA offers a chance for students to do exciting things with their degree. An economist by training, Matt said at the CIA he has had a chance to do a variety of jobs not usually encountered by economists.

"I got to try different assignments because they looked like fun," he said.

Dave said the CIA sent him to Harvard to continue his studies. He told the audience he works to fight terrorism by disrupting terrorist cells.

Emily Richer, a public management senior, said the session gave her a peek into what the CIA was looking for in students.

"It was very interesting," Richer said. "It is nice to see what opportunities are available at the CIA."

Shannon Ramirez, a criminal justice administration and public management senior, said she liked the meeting, but said she wished she would have known more about the meeting in advance.

"I think it was very informative, but the UA did not effectively convey the intentions of the meeting." Ramirez said.

Ramirez said she while she wants to apply to the CIA, she did not want to work for the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence.