(Below is an account of a student’s experience at a site visit to the CIA Headquarters in April 2016.)
Dear Fellow UB Students & Staff:
My name is Gina Torres, and I am a junior at the University of Baltimore pursuing a major in Criminal Justice and a minor in Victim Studies. On Friday April 22, 2016, I had the amazing opportunity to visit the CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. To make things even more memorable, all of us who attended were the first students from the University of Baltimore to visit Headquarters. I was asked by Charles Jennings, Associate Director for Employer Relations at the UB Career and Professional Development Center, to write about my experience there, and since I love to write, I happily accepted. The Mission of the Central Intelligence Agency is to “preempt threats and further US national security objectives by: collecting intelligence that matters, producing objective all-source analysis, conducting effective covert action as directed by the President, and safeguarding the secrets that help keep our Nation safe”. An interesting fact that was shared with us by one of the analysts is that there are jobs for any field in which you are interested. Examples of available positions/focus areas include: analysts, business, IT & Security, Directorate of Operations (Clandestine Service), Language, Science, Engineering and Technology Positions.
Immediately upon arrival, we were given our visitor’s badge; the feeling of having that badged clipped to my cardigan made me feel important, as if I was a part of something big. We toured the facility and learned about the interesting history of the CIA. Our tour guide, Fernando, was a retired CIA Officer who had been recruited to return to the CIA to give tours such as the one that we were receiving. Fernando was seriously the coolest guy ever! Although he had a serious tone throughout his presentation, he had a sense of humor as well. There was an immediate connection between the two of us, probably due to the fact that we were both from Bayamon, Puerto Rico. One of the highlights from the tour that I will never forget will be when we came across an exact replica of a model. The second I laid my eyes on it, I knew what it was. I had seen the movie Zero Dark Thirty too many times to NOT know what it was…a model of the compound where Osama Bin Laden hid away for almost a decade. It was an exact replica of the model that the CIA had made to present to President Barack Obama about Bin Laden’s whereabouts. Having the opportunity to see that in person is an experience that I will never forget. It was amazing how detailed it was; not one thing was missing. We were also shown one of the many guns that was owned by Bin Laden in a display. Next to the gun was an actual Al Qaeda training manual owned by him. Being able to see those items was truly an intense experience.
I have always had dreams to work for the federal government (FBI or DEA). Before this trip, I had no idea if I would fit into this agency, even after stopping by the CIA visibility table, attending the information sessions and interviewing with one of the recruiting agents (all on campus). After the visit to CIA Headquarters, I realized that I could see myself pursuing career either as an analyst or a target officer. Maya from Zero Dark Thirty was a target officer, and I was always inspired by how bad-ass she was. Although it was a movie, it was based on real events. Before I left Headquarters, I made sure that I walked to the seal, which is where new officers are inducted. Will I ever get to stand on that seal again? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know where I will be a year and a half from now much less two or three. This trip inspired me to continue to keep doing what I am doing, working hard in school and to better myself physically and mentally to reach my goals. Nothing is going to stop me. No challenge or obstacle will ever be too big to get in the way of me achieving everything that I have, am, and will be working for.