FBI Careers: Special Agent

FBI Special Agent John Woodill talks about his experience working with the FBI.

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I'm John Woodill; I'm a supervisory special agent and the unit chief of the WMD Director Operations Response Unit.

Before the Bureau, I worked as a journalist for about 10 or 12 years, primarily broadcast news. I worked in radio, I worked in television, I wrote, I produced, I anchored, I did some field reporting for a while in two different markets. But all along, my goal for a long time was to be an FBI special agent.

The Operations Response Unit is, as we like to refer to it as the tip of the spear for the Bureau's Weapons of Mass Destruction response. Essentially what my unit does is evaluate weapons of mass destruction threats. So, anything dealing with chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. Materials, actors, incidents, we have a process in which we evaluate it, determine how bad it is, if it's real. If so, what do we need to do about it? And we assemble the teams to be dispatched to take care of the problem.

People look at the FBI as sometimes a glamorous career, especially for special agents because of how it's portrayed in TV and film. Fact of the matter is this: the action, the arrests, the guns, the badges, the high-profile stuff may be icing on the cake, you want to look at it that way. But the fact is that day in and day out, you're going to be doing a lot of writing, a lot of reports, a lot of analysis. Trying to make sense of a barrage of information, what it means, is it of any use? It requires a solid grounding in whatever your educated in. Judgement, critical thinking, that's the day in and day out.

The Bureau's afforded me tremendous opportunities. I think any one of us you speak to, not just simply those who are agents, but anyone working in the FBI will probably tell you the same story. There are extraordinary opportunities available to people. In the special agent career path, what I've been able to do is go places, meet people, work investigations, see things I never would have seen otherwise.


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