B.A. in English, 2019
B.S. in Psychology, 2019
Favorite memories of being an undergraduate English major:
Finding the perfect sources for a paper, learning from the experts and other students, and building up self-confidence and presentation skills.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
When you graduated with a degree in English from MSU, what were your plans for your future? Has your career path mostly realized those early plans, or have you discovered new plans and goals along the way?
By the time I graduated from MSU in May 2019, I had been an intern with the FBI for 2.5 years, which (along with plenty of FBI TV shows) had exposed me to the position of Intelligence Analyst. I gravitated towards the role, which was centered around things I thought were interesting and exciting – uncovering small details, synthesizing diverse evidence, and sharing insights. Thanks to a conveniently timed job posting and so much support, I was accepted for the position before graduation, and I was set to start the FBI Academy in July 2019.
What is your current occupation, and what does your work mostly consist of?
I am an Intelligence Analyst at one of the FBI’s 56 field offices. My job varies immensely day to day, but it centers around the things that attracted me to it in the first place – combing through a variety of sources and data, picking out important facts, and creating an assessment. I then work to efficiently present that assessment to those who can use it to make operational decisions. This can be in the form of presentations or briefings but is most often in the form of written intelligence products, similar to academic papers but with different structures and goals.
Which skills that you learned as an English major do you use most in your job?
I feel the English program at MSU expertly prepared me for a position like this. The skills necessary – gathering information, evaluating its usefulness, and using it to support an argument effectively and professionally – are all pieces of creating an interesting academic paper. People in my position also value resourcefulness, out-of-the-box thinking, and working with other writers and roles, all encouraged by the MSU English program,
What additional skills did you need to learn in order to do your job, and how did you learn them?
For first applying for the position (both intern and analyst), I worked with the MSU Career Center to format my resume correctly and conduct mock interviews. While I had the chance to build my presentation and public speaking skills through the English program with paper presentations and group discussions, that is something that I still got (and at times still get!) nervous about. I try to improve that though on-the-job exposure to different briefing styles and techniques. The FBI Academy emphasizes Flexibilty and Adaptibilty among other core characteristics, which are required to move within the organization, to prioritize many different projects as needed, and to learn new skills as the field and its tools evolve. That is also a never-ending process, but I have learned to develop those skills by always asking questions to better understand what I’m working on and how I can improve it.
Are there common misconceptions about your career field, which current English majors might share, that you have learned the truth about?
There are a lot of preconceptions about this career field, ranging from people thinking that I always carry a weapon (I do not, as that is not a requirement for the analyst position), to the idea that the FBI has access to limitless resources that make research and answering questions a breeze. The FBI has a lot of legal limitations, rightfully so, that require us to be respectful of everyone’s rights and work very carefully, holding ourselves and our coworkers accountable.
In what ways does your career enrich your life and help you to achieve your personal as well as your professional goals?
This career allows me to learn from some incredible people, challenge my abilities, and work towards a larger mission. The position also offers opportunities to temporarily work at other offices and complete diverse training programs, learning different areas of expertise and research and writing techniques. While I did relocate for the position, the office is a close-knit community that provides resources and support.
What advice do you have for undergraduate English majors right now who might want to follow the career path you did?
At the risk of sounding like a recruiter, the FBI’s website has a lot of helpful information for prospective employees, from interns, analysts, agents, and other crucial personnel. Along with job requirements and things to expect (including getting assigned a location for analysts and agents), the website lists some key attributes, like Flexibility and Adaptability from earlier, which students can try to learn and demonstrate through their schooling and extracurricular activities. I also would recommend nurturing both a sense of curiosity and of humility – a large part of the job is asking questions, asking for help, asking what you might be overlooking. The English program at MSU is an excellent environment for practicing all of those skills and learning from everyone around you.