The Guardians Club hosted a virtual webinar with a law enforcement official about his career on Wednesday, March 10.
He graduated from Monmouth University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Graduating in the middle of a national recession, finding a job was no easy task, he explained. He landed a job at a local law firm before interviewing for a law enforcement agency in the summer of 2008, right before they went on a two year long hiring freeze.
He left the firm and bounced around from different jobs until eventually receiving a call back from the agency in 2010, starting his career with them in Newark, New Jersey. He was then transferred to Washington D.C., where he worked for eight years. Currently, he resides in San Diego, California working for a different agency.
His primary responsibility while working for in Newark and Washington involved time in the security department, running background checks on potential hires. The agency runs two arms in the hiring and firing of employees, he explained. The first is called “suitability,” in which the human resource department exams whether or not the person is a good fit for a specific job.
The other arm of employment is referred to as “security,” which goes into effect after a candidate passes the suitability requirement. He was responsible for investigating if potential hires were a safe fit for the job, such as researching for any outstanding financial debts or history of drug use or crime. The law enforcement official said debt and drugs are the two most common factors that ruin someone’s eligibility of being hired at a government job.
Working security background checks led to one of his most rewarding experiences with the agency. He had been working background checks in Washington D.C. when he came across a man with ties to terrorism, and the agency immediately denied the applicant access. Regarding the background-checking job, he said, “rewards are few and far between, but that is probably a good thing.”
He clarified some common misconceptions about the agency. Oftentimes, an agent does not live the run-and-gun lifestyle portrayed in popular movies and TV. In fact, the agency is home to more desk type agents, he explained. One thing that Hollywood does get right, according to him, is the secrecy agencies work so hard to maintain. An agent at the Washington D.C. headquarters does not know anything about the case his friend and co-worker is working on down the hall. It is all part of the their priority to keep the people safe.
He enjoyed his time at the first agency because, “federal law enforcement gave me a sense of purpose.” He explained how there are other jobs with better salaries, but at the end of the day, it never mattered to him. He knew what he was doing had a purpose, not only for himself, but for the nation, he said.
The law enforcement official offered industry advice to soon-to-be graduates in the virtual call. Cyber security is on the rise, so a minor in information technology (IT) would look very nice on an application, according to him. The agency also “loves interns,” which is a great way to get noticed. Along with that, he said that some experience in international relations or learning a second language can give a graduate a leg up on the competition.
He ended the call with a message to the students, saying, “For me, it was not to sit around and wait for one job. Your job is to apply to jobs. Take anything you can. Once you get a job, it is easier to find other jobs.”
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