Facebook Live Event - Becoming an Intelligence Analyst

The FBI hosted a Facebook Live session on April 17, 2018 where viewers learned more about the critical role Intelligence Analysts play at the FBI and career opportunities.

Video Transcript

Stephanie Shark: Hello, and welcome everyone. Thanks for joining us here today. FBI Intelligence Analysts—or IAs, for short—are involved in nearly every aspect of FBI operations in every corner of the globe, and since 9/11 their role has continued to expand. Today we are here to talk about the very important role intelligence analysts play in the FBI's mission. And if viewers out there are interested in becoming an intelligence analyst, we'll also provide information on the application process. I'm Supervisory Special Agent Stephanie Shark and with me today is Teresa Tamburrino, who is a supervisory intelligence analyst. She'll share her experiences from the field and walk us through the application process. As we get into that conversation, please feel free to tag a friend so that they can watch the video later. Please ask questions during our broadcast as well by typing them into the comments field or by using the hashtag #AskFBI. We'll do our best to answer them as we move along. So let's get started. Hi Teresa, how are you?

Teresa Tamburrino: Hi, how are you Steph?

Shark: Please introduce yourself to the audience and tell them a little bit about you and your role within the FBI.

Tamburrino: Hi. So my name is Teresa Tamburrino and I've been with the Bureau for over 30 years. I spent most of my career in the FBI Baltimore office as an intel analyst and also as a supervisor, and then a couple of years ago I moved here to FBI headquarters to become the IA program manager and take care of the hiring of our Intel analysts.

Shark: So you are the person—the right person—to talk to the audience today about how to become an IA, huh?

Tamburrino: Correct.

Shark: Well, will you tell us a little bit about what an IA role is? Who is an intelligence analyst in the FBI?

Tamburrino: So our intelligence analysts have three roles—and we have the embedded analyst, we have a strategic analyst, and we have a reporting analyst. We have those both at the field level and at FBI headquarters. And depending on the size of the office—from a small, medium, large, or extra-large office—that role can be very different. So the role in the field is more down in the weeds—working with the agents, doing actual cases—and here at headquarters, you would be doing more strategic—looking at the bigger picture around the world and how those threats are affecting decisions by our policymakers.

Shark: Okay. Well, a lot of times when people ask me what my job is and I'm an agent, that makes sense to them. I carry a weapon, I do investigations. But a lot of people may not know what an analyst does.

Tamburrino: So they do spend a lot of time at their desks reading and writing and following the communications of different intelligence around the world. But at the field level they do get the opportunity to go out and work with the agents, get to go on search warrants, they get to go on interviews. And so there's a lot of opportunities at that level. Here at headquarters, a lot of time we use our resources here at headquarters to surge to help the field, so in instances where we've had major investigations. This week is the five year anniversary of the Boston bombing, and so for that case we had analysts deployed up to Boston from here at headquarters.

Shark: Okay. What other major investigations do analysts get to play too, for example?

Tamburrino: So over the last few years we've supported the San Bernardino shooting, the Pulse nightclub shooting down in Florida, and pretty much everything else that you have seen in the news or heard about.

Shark: What about international? The FBI is more global and we talk about our presence overseas. Do intelligence analysts take a part in that?

Tamburrino: They do. Initially, new analysts do not get that opportunity to go overseas. But, however, we have staffed our Legat offices—which are our offices overseas with analysts—and we usually have a really high response rate when we post those vacancies. So those are internal vacancies only and the analyst has to have six years of experience before they can apply to those positions.

Shark: Now earlier, when we were talking before the broadcast, you said something very interesting to me about what is a quality that you see in most analysts. Can you tell the audience kind of what we're looking for?

Tamburrino: Yeah. So we were talking about what would make a good analyst, and what makes a good analyst is someone who loves to do puzzles. Tries to decipher patterns when you look at different, like, seek and find type pictures. And then other than that they just don't like “no” for an answer; they just want to keep digging until they get something, whether it's the right answer or not. At least they have an ending, you know. They like that ending.

Shark: So now that we know that commonality, can you tell me a little bit about, well, how someone were to apply to be an analyst if they're interested, if they find that they like solving puzzles?

Tamburrino: Yeah. So we try to have one posting a year and that posting is generally open from September the 1st through around October the 15th, and that is targeted around our recruiting events at our local colleges and universities. Once you apply to the position and you're selected for testing, you will go to a three part test. The first one is in a testing center and it's similar to an SAT test. There's nothing you can study for other than to get a good night's sleep the night before. You will find out whether you pass that test when you walk out to your car because it's that immediate—you'll get an e-mail saying “congratulations you passed,” and you will get ten days to two weeks to follow your phase 2 test, which is an essay writing exercise. And once you complete that you're notified in about three to four weeks if you pass that test, and then you'll be scheduled for a regional interview. We try to do those five times a year. We do the east coast here in DC and we do the west coast either in Phoenix, Denver, or San Diego. And so if you haven't been scheduled for your phase 3 interview yet it’s because we don’t have enough candidates to travel to the west coast yet to do those interviews.

Shark: Well that's quite an in-depth process.

Tamburrino: Oh yeah.

Shark: Well thanks to everyone who has just tuned in thus far. I'm sitting here with Teresa Tamburrino and we are talking about what it takes to become an intelligence analyst in the FBI. I'm Supervisory Special Agent Stephanie Shark and with me is Teresa Tamburrino, a supervisory intelligence analyst. Feel free to tag a friend so that they can watch the video later. Also, please submit questions by using hashtag #AskFBI and we'll try to get to them today during our broadcast. Now let's take a question from our audience—are you ready Teresa?

Tamburrino: Mmm hmm.

Shark: Christian asks, “What degree, if any, do I need to be an analyst?”

Tamburrino: Great question, Christian. So yes, you need to have a degree. You have to have at least a 3.0 GPA. And our top categories right now that we're seeking candidates for would be cyber, law, foreign language and foreign studies, and international studies relations, foreign migration, geopolitical global studies—anything in that field. We plan to have a posting later on this year, again, in our September timeframe, and we plan to expand that target audience to liberal arts majors, journalism, data analytics, some political science, and some of the other liberal arts categories.

Shark: What about if I speak several languages and I want to work for the FBI but I'm not exactly sure which path to take? What would you recommend?

Tamburrino: So if there's not a posting up right now for the analyst, I would suggest that you look at the linguist contract position and apply to that and start the process, because you still have to go through the background. And this way you get tested for your language and then if you're tested for your language that score carries a win to becoming an IA.

Shark: Okay. And what about if I have a great cyber background but I eventually would like to do an investigation and I think I may be an agent. Is it even worth it to apply to be an intelligence analyst?

Tamburrino: Oh, absolutely. So if you're interested, apply to our position and to their position and we'll be processing you at the same time for both. Then it gets to the point where you're ready to go—you'll have to make the decision as to which path you want to go to at that point. But you can apply to both at the same time and go through that process.

Shark: So I want to get with you and talk to the audience about what the process is once you become an analyst or at least get accepted to go through the training. But before we do that I want to ask, what are the limitations? I know agents usually have to pass fit tests and other things like that, but are there limitations if you want to be an intelligence analyst?

Tamburrino: No, we don't have an age limit like the agents do. We don't have a physical requirement. It's everybody and anybody that has the right background and the right skill set, is somebody that we're interested in.

Shark: So we're looking for diverse candidates?

Tamburrino: Yes, very diverse.

Shark: Who like to solve puzzles?

Tamburrino: And they like to solve puzzles.

Shark: Great. Well now let's talk about a little bit with the Academy. So I've passed all three phases of my test and I have a letter. What happens now?

Tamburrino: Yes. So the letter that Stephanie is referring to is your conditional job offer. So that's issued at the end of phase 3, when you've passed your interview, and that starts your background investigation. So from that point forward that process could be anywhere from a year to 18 months, and then usually we have a 6-month window to get you to the Academy in one of our classes. We hold five classes a year and we staff those classes with 40 to 50 analysts each time.

Shark: When you say FBI Academy, where is that?

Tamburrino: At Quantico.

Shark: Quantico, Virginia.

Tamburrino: Oh yeah.

Shark: Okay. So analysts train at the same place that special agents do?

Tamburrino: Correct. So we started doing that back in 2014. Our classes are 160 agents to 40 analysts, so each class has 200 students going through at the same time. They take all of their courses together for the first 10 weeks. They sleep together…well, they don't sleep together; they dorm together. They have their meals together. They exercise together. And then they actually find out on week 5 where they're going. So that's orders night—that's a big deal at the Academy, to find out where you're going. And then once the analysts graduate at week 12, the agents stay on for another 10 weeks to finish their defensive tactics—shooting and driving tests.

Shark: So I remember being an agent and orders night. I don't know where I'm going; I am halfway through my training and they give me an envelope and I open it up, I read it. What is the experience for an analyst and knowing where they're going to go once they join the FBI?

Tamburrino: Right. So they all sign a mobility agreement at the very beginning and so they know that this is the way it's going to be. And at week 5, when they have orders night, there are lots of happy people in the room and there are a few tears, but that's expected. We have been averaging between the third and fifth choice out of a list of 57 because analysts are allowed to pick 56 offices plus any headquarters unit that they'd like to go to, whereas agents only get to pick from the 56 field offices.

Shark: Okay. Well thanks again for joining us as we chat about the career of an FBI intelligence analyst and what the application process is like. Tag a friend so that they can watch the video later. You can also submit questions by using the hashtag #AskFBI or by typing them into the comments section. We'll try our best to answer them during this broadcast. Now let's take another question. Ian asks, “In your opinion, what has been the most challenging and rewarding part about being an intelligence analyst?”

Tamburrino: Thanks Ian. So I would say my most challenging has been managing my personal life and my family life with my work life. And the Bureau has been great in being very flexible and letting me do what I need to do to accommodate my family, but also knowing that when the bell rings and that emergency happens that you're ready to show up and ready to give a hundred percent all the time. So I would say that was probably my most challenging thing as a mom.

Shark: Okay. Well talk a little bit about what your day-to-day experience is like. Is it shift work or a set set of hours? What can our audience expect?

Tamburrino: Yeah, so we do ask during the interview process that people be aware that they might be called in 24/7, nights, weekends, and holidays, but honestly it's really just when there's an emergency. You're usually scheduled 8 to 5 Monday through Friday and there's flexibility within that eight hours to even change your hours a little bit. And each field office is, you know, pretty flexible with letting you do what you need to do to accommodate your work-life balance.

Shark: And I don't know about you, so if your experience has been different let me know, but I have found sometimes the emergencies are the favorite parts of my career.

Tamburrino: Absolutely.

Shark: Because that's when you really get to come together, no matter what your role is, and protect the American people.

Tamburrino: Yeah. It's actually really fun. You meet people that you would have never worked with before and then those become long lasting relationships that you have from friends and co-workers.

Shark: Well, tell us a little bit about why you became an intelligent analyst.

Tamburrino: Ooh, you asked me this yesterday. So I really wanted to be a police officer and my mother talked me out of it because she said they had ugly uniforms and work shift work, “and that's not something you'd want to do the rest of your life.” So I joined the FBI never knowing that I would be an intelligence analyst, but I loved my career as an intel analyst.

Shark: And knowing that you want to be in law enforcement, why did you never change to become an agent?

Tamburrino: Honestly, I didn't want to move.

Shark: Okay.

Tamburrino: I liked…I was from Baltimore and I stayed in that office, and I didn't really want to have the movement of my family, and back in the day you had to move every 3 to 5 years.

Shark: Okay. Well, I think we may have another question from the audience. Robbie asks, “What recommendations would you make to prepare for the phase 2 interview?” Or excuse me, the phase 3 interview.

Tamburrino: That's okay. The phase 3 interview…I would say, get a good night's sleep the night before. Make sure you have a sturdy handshake with the people and make eye contact during the interview. There's a litany of questions that you're going to be asked. It's a three panel interview; make sure you look at all three people during the interview. And make sure when you answer the questions that you start with the situation, the action, and the result, and keep that in the back of your mind as you answer each one of the questions and you'll do fine.

Shark: Because, correct me if I'm wrong, but they want to assess what your experience is like and how you make decisions.

Tamburrino: Correct.

Shark: And what impacts your judgment.

Tamburrino: Yeah. So the questions rely on the core competencies of the job that you're going to get, and so they're testing to see if you can answer those core competencies.

Shark: Okay. So let's take another question from our audience. Kayla asks, “While I'm sure every day is different, can you describe a typical day as an intelligence analyst?”

Tamburrino: So a typical day would be the night before you've probably organized your thoughts about what you're going to do the next day and then you arrive at the office and someone stops you and says, “Hey, last night during an interview, we found out that so-and-so is not where they're supposed to be living and they live here now,” and you're off to the races. And so you are constantly reprioritizing every day, all day long, all the things that were on your to-do list. And I think that's what I've enjoyed most, because it's never Groundhog Day, never.

Shark: No, that is true. Alright, now we have another question: May asks, “Do you have to constantly travel?”

Tamburrino: So the traveling is based on what you would like to do. You can volunteer to do what we call “temporary duty assignments,” and that's when the bell rings and there's a call for people to come and help at the different offices that, you know, have a case going on. But other than that, you're not really required to travel.

Shark: But are there opportunities to travel?

Tamburrino: There are opportunities to travel.

Shark: Because some people like traveling and some people don’t.

Tamburrino: Yeah, some people love it; other people don’t.

Shark: I’ve found as an agent one of the things I love about the FBI the most is the vast amount of opportunities for different personalities. Do intelligence analysts have that same experience?

Tamburrino: Oh absolutely. So we have our very outgoing people, and we have introverted, and there's a role for everyone. It doesn't matter what your personality is—there's a niche for everyone.

Shark: So what can someone do if they want to learn more about becoming an intelligence analyst? What resources do they have? Where do they go?

Tamburrino: So on FBI Jobs we have the posting for the intel analyst position, but when there's not a posting up you can still refer to that website and there's a link that takes you to the IA page. There is a hyperlink to a packet to read—and it's mandatory reading when you apply for the position—and that walks you from the job from the day you apply until you the day you graduate out of Quantico.

Shark: Okay. So we have one last question before we sign off. Amy asks, “Are there any tips for making your application stand out?” I mean how many applications do we get and how many do we choose?

Tamburrino: That was an excellent question. So in 2016, we had our posting up for 6 weeks and we had 15,000 applicants. When we did the posting in the fall of 2017, we only had 5,000—but remember that was a smaller criteria of only the five top skills that we were looking for at the time. But we anticipate that when we go up in September that we're going to get another 10,000 applications. So it's not your application that stands out, because it's a standard application, but what you want to stand out is your résumé. And so I would start your résumé off by stating where you went to school and in what discipline you got your degree in, and then in chronological order work backwards on what you've done.

Shark: Okay.

Tamburrino: But any foreign travel, anything like that really will help you.

Shark: Life experience.

Tamburrino: Life experiences are great.

Shark: Well this is a good opportunity for us to sign off for this session. I wanted to thank Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Teresa Tamburrino for joining the discussion. If you have any questions or need more information about the FBI intelligence analyst careers, openings, and how to apply, please visit us on the web at FBIJobs.gov. And don't forget we have a Twitter and we have LinkedIn and other Facebook resources too, so this is not just for intelligence analysts. Check us out, follow us, while we protect you. We're looking forward to you joining our team.


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