Facebook Live Broadcast: Honors Internship Program and Collegiate Hiring Initiative
On October 13, 2016, the FBI hosted a Facebook Live event to discuss the Honors Internship Program and Collegiate Hiring Initiative with Arlene Gaylord, former FBI intern and current executive.
Elyse Levine: Hey guys, welcome to the show. Thanks for joining us today. We’re really excited to be here. My name’s Elyse Levine, I’m a special advisor here at the FBI in our Human Resources Division, and I’m here today with Arlene Gaylord, who is a senior executive with our Directorate of Intelligence. We’re here today to talk to you a little bit about our Collegiate Hiring Initiative and Honors Internship Program. These are our two student programs that start in the summer of next year. Our Collegiate Hiring Initiative is our full-time entry-level hiring program. We hire students who are graduating this summer or who have recently graduated in the last two years to come work for us in five different career paths. You can come here and work in security, business analysis, operations, human resources, or STEM, the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. And our Honors Internship program is our summer internship, runs from June through August for students anywhere from first semester freshmen in undergrad to PhD students. So, applications close tomorrow at midnight eastern time. You can find out more on fbijobs.gov/students. You should be able to click on a link above in the post above here, so feel free to go on check it out as you’re following along here.
I’m here with Arlene, who has risen through the ranks and is now a senior executive here with us at the FBI, but she was a former FBI intern herself, so Arlene, what drew you here to the FBI?
Arlene Gaylord: Thank you for having me. So, I came to the FBI, I’m from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and I came in through the Honors Internship Program, and I loved it so much I just never left. What drew me to the FBI was the mission, and to this day, that’s what keeps me going. There’s nothing better than a mission to protect the American people and uphold the constitution, so no matter where you fit within that mission, when you’re doing that, it becomes crystal clear why you’re here. The two things that really matter to me are to make sure that I have an impact and that I’m leaving a legacy and making a difference, and I’ve felt that way for 25 years. I started out giving tours and I’m now a senior executive, I’m blessed to say, but it’s been a great honor and I still feel that joy when I walk into the building every day.
Elyse: Awesome. So, what did you get to do while you were an intern here? What was your internship experience like?
Arlene: So, it was really interesting, back then it was 1991, so I’m dating myself. There was not a lot of technology, and I was assigned to the Visual Investigative Analysis Unit. And for TV watchers of your average show on TV, when you hear people talk about link charts, this is the precursor to the links charts that are aided by technology, which we use different types of program software to do, but back then we did it with pencils and rulers, and all that is connecting people, places, and things, and going through case files trying to establish connections. And the information and the stuff that I learned during my internship I used throughout my career.
Elyse: So, that’s like posting pictures what you see on TV, the pictures of certain people with like the balls of yarn going from one picture to another kind of thing. That’s really cool.
Arlene: But with a ruler, not yarn.
Elyse: OK, alright, alright. That makes sense, that makes sense. So, why did you decide to stay at the FBI after your internship?
Arlene: So, growing up in Puerto Rico, I went to school on a military base with the children of FBI agents and I just admired them greatly, and so I knew from an early age that that’s what I wanted to do. I also knew that getting in was a really difficult process, I literally found out the week before I reported. It took me a year-and-a-half to get through the process. I didn’t want to leave, and I was a college student here in Washington, D.C., and so I showed up at my boss’ office and I said, “What can I do? I’m still here, and I don’t want to leave.” And they asked me if I wanted to give tours and I said yes, and magic just happened after that.
Elyse: Wow, so can you take us through your career? So, you gave tours and then what did you do after that?
Arlene: So, I gave tours throughout my senior year at American University, and when I graduated I showed up at my boss’ office and said, “Okay, I’m ready to be a full-time employee,’” because that was a part time job, and he asked me, “What can you do?’ and I said, “Well,” and he said, “You’re clearly too young to be an FBI agent”; you had to be 23 and I think that’s still the case. I said, “But I can speak Spanish, sir,” and he said, “You can? We happen to be in a middle of a drug war.” So, he wrote me a little note where I needed to go to take a test, and off I went and I passed that test, and they gave me three choices: New Haven, Connecticut; Detroit; and also Denver; and I picked New Haven. I packed up my U-Haul, and off I went and started my adventure. I think you can break down my career in several work worlds.
So, I started as a linguist, and I worked my way up the ranks. I’ve been in seven field offices; 9/11 found me in San Diego as a language supervisor having worked my way up. What happened was there were hijackers living in our city, and I decided to take a huge leap of faith and that starts the second part of my career, which is the intelligence analyst part. So, I was an intelligence Analyst, or IA, in San Diego, and I then became a supervisory IA, SIA, in Sacramento, and I worked up the ranks, senior supervisory IA, and I did that for the Western Regional Intelligence Group until they asked me to return to stand up the joint the Regional Intelligence Group. I was lucky enough to come full circle and was selected for the senior executive service as the section chief of Language Services and the senior language authority for the FBI. I now serve—at the request of management, because they really see the talent in people and plug us in the right places—as a section shief of Global Intelligence.
Elyse: Wow, so it’s been a ride. You’ve had quite the ride here. What I think that your career really demonstrates—and hopefully the students watching this can really see that once you come in to the FBI your career can kind of take off, and you know, you can go to a bunch of different places. So, you know, you mentioned New Haven, so shout out to the New Haven people on the call here. What other offices did you go to?
Arlene: So, hopefully I can keep track of all of them. There are seven total so I probably always forget one or two, so I know that I’ve been in offices in North Carolina; Florida; every major field office in California with the exception of San Francisco, so Los Angeles and San Diego. I’ve been in a two-man, one-Arlene resident agency, we called them RAs, in Meridian, Mississippi and then back at Headquarters. So, it’s been, in every office, has been completely different, and I’ve learned that the best part of the FBI is that family feeling. Everywhere I go, after 25 years, I know somebody.
Elyse: Yeah, it’s definitely true, it’s definitely true. And I know for our internship program and for our Collegiate Hiring Initiative we’re definitely looking for people, of course, for all of our field offices, but also especially those of you who are tuning in from Anchorage, Alaska or Honolulu, Hawaii or San Juan, Puerto Rico. We’re definitely looking for you guys as well, so apply and we hope to see you here.
Just wanted to take a quick break to re-welcome anybody who is just joining us on this show here, so, I’m from HRD, and Arlene is a senior executive with our Directorate of Intelligence, and we’re here talking a little bit about our Collegiate Hiring Initiative and our Honors Internship program, which are our student programs here at the FBI. The collegiate hiring initiative is a full-time recruiting program, entry-level positions, for students who have recently graduated or who are about to graduate, and our Honors Internship program is our summer internship experience here at the FBI. So, again visit fbijobs.gov/students to find out more information, you can read all about these programs. And back to the questions. So, during your career, I imagine you’ve had a lot of opportunities to try out different—essentially what we call collateral duties here, can you take us through maybe some of the other experiences that you’ve had throughout your career?
Arlene: So, I’ll highlight two for you. So, my favorite is serving alongside our special agents on the Evidence Response Team, responding to crime scenes and collecting evidence alongside our special agents, and probably the highlight training-wise was graduating from the body farm… learning about how to recover human remains in order to aide our investigation and bring closure to the families of the missing and the relatives and it was very rewarding. And also, recently actually, I’ve been a linguist, I’ve been an analyst, I got this wonderful opportunity to do a 60-day stretch assignment as deputy assistant director of the Human Resources Division, so that’s a really great example—once you work hard the opportunities here are endless, and I’ve had the opportunity to do so many different things.
Elyse: Yeah, that’s awesome, that’s great. And we definitely enjoyed having you at HR of course. So, what would you say was the best thing… what has been the best thing about working for the FBI?
Arlene: The best thing about working for the FBI is feeling great about what I do every day, and it’s a family endeavor for us—my husband’s a special agent as well—but knowing that what I do no matter what it is within that mission of protecting the American people and upholding the constitution makes a difference in a palpable way. When I’m watching TV and I see the ticker, I know that I’m part of protecting our country and I’m part of upholding our constitution, and that to me is the definition of success, is feeling really great at the end of the day about what you’re doing.
Elyse: Yeah, I would definitely agree with that, absolutely. So, I want to give a little bit of advice to the students watching this show. What would you say are some of the characteristics that you need in order to come work here?
Arlene: So, I’m pretty simple in the way that I describe things. We’re looking for people who are not afraid to be passionate and work hard, really hard at doing whatever it is that we’re asking them to do. They need to be flexible; they need to be open to change. I always say that the magic happens at the end of the comfort zone, so my career has clearly been an example of that. I’ve been unafraid of taking risks and that’s not really true, I’ve been afraid, but I’ve not allowed the fear to stop me from taking those chances. Finally, work hard, but also have a great attitude. If you work hard and you have a great attitude, people want you on their team.
Elyse: Yeah. So, what is the—I’m gonna ask you one more question and then I’d like to take a couple of questions from the audience—but what is the one piece of advice you would give to the students watching the show?
Arlene: Right now, the world is your oyster. You can basically do anything. There’s so many different companies or organizations that you can work for. The best advice I can give you is that there’s only one FBI. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to apply to get a rare glimpse at what we do every day and so you can certainly work in many different places, but take this risk, and you won’t regret it. Probably the biggest joy that I had in my 25 years here was being able to swear in this year’s interns, one of the classes, as acting assistant director, and that was such a joy, so my hope is that they’ll take this opportunity to get a rare glimpse of what we do, and maybe I’ll see them in the hallway someday.
Elyse: Yeah, I certainly hope so. So, let’s take a couple of questions now. Gabrielle asks, “Is this for students only? What about graduate students?” Yes, Gabrielle, this program actually is for anybody who… our Honors Internship program is for first-semester freshmen through PhD students, so if you’re currently a full-time student, undergrad, graduate, PhD, whatever it is, definitely feel free to apply. Our Collegiate Hiring Initiative is also for students who have been full-time students and are about to graduate, so undergraduate students who either have graduated or are about to graduate recently and graduate students in the same boat, as well as PHD students, so we’re looking for anybody across all walks of life, all kinds of students.
Jackie asks, “Does a graduate in health services field qualify for any role available? Jackie, yes, we have tons of roles here at the FBI. We have 12 different career paths, if you visit fbijobs.gov you can get an overview of all of them, but I would say, I do want to call out there’s no one specific major—we, from the HR perspective, we look for people again from across all walks of life, all different backgrounds, if you want to work here there’s a place here for you, so I highly encourage you to apply. Arlene, what was your major?
Arlene: Interestingly enough my major was justice—at the time that I applied I didn’t need a degree, and the reason why I was hired was because I was a Spanish speaker, so I would call out if you’re a foreign language speaker and that’s something that you’re willing to work on… but what’s great about the FBI is that I literally worked with rocket scientists and PhDs and that’s what makes the FBI great, and that’s what we’re looking for, the diversity of thought.
Elyse: Yeah, absolutely, it really is. Um, so Miguel asks, “Is there an age limit?” Miguel, no there’s no age limit. Um, if you’re a student, you are free to apply. The only limit that we have is for our Collegiate Hiring Initiative, you have to have graduated between December of 2014 and September of 2017. And then for our summer internship program you just have to be a current full-time student, again, anywhere from first semester freshmen through PhD student. So, I think that we have one more question.
Erin asks, “Are we looking for specific majors or backgrounds?” Hey, Erin, no again, we’re looking for anybody across the breath and depth of majors that you have. If you are a science, technology, engineer, or math major, you should definitely apply. Our Collegiate Hiring Initiative has a specific career path exclusively for STEM majors, as well as our Honors Internship program, and that you can get opportunities with our FBI Laboratory, with our Cyber Division, with our Criminal Justice Information Services Division, there are kind of all across, all across the gamut, but again not just limited to STEM, not just limited to criminal justice.
So, thank you guys so much for your questions. I just wanted to thank you all for tuning in and thank you Arlene for joining us here today. This was really great. So please feel free to apply to these programs, our Collegiate Hiring Initiative and our Honors Internship program. They close tomorrow, October 14th at midnight eastern standard time, so get your application in before then. Currently, we have about 6,000 applications in for each of those programs, so, so yeah, so we’re definitely looking for more people. Follow us on social media, you can follow us @fbijobs on Twitter, here at this page on Facebook… and as well as on LinkedIn, we have a company page, so come follow us. And we really look forward to seeing you in the halls here someday, so thanks for joining.
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