So you want to be a special agent?

On Wednesday, Oct. 10, UVU Internship Services invited three special agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to speak at a seminar designed to inform students about careers within their respective federal agencies.

 

Sixty two students attended to find out what it takes to become a special agent in one of the agencies. The special agents introduced themselves, their respective agencies and gave a brief employment background before taking turns answering prepared questions by a UVU Internship Services representative.

 

Starting with special agent Cruz from ICE, Cruz stated his background as a police officer who then decided to go federal.

 

“I kinda hit as high as I could go without going into management,” Cruz said. From that point forward, he became an investigator of foreign nationals.

 

Under the U.S Department of Homeland Security, Cruz’s agency also deals with the regulation of anything that crosses the U.S border, including money, an idea of drugs or people.

 

The representative from the FBI said they work in a variety of areas such as white-collar crime, drugs, counter-intelligence and terrorism.

 

After working in Los Angeles for 12 years, the FBI special agent stated that after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the FBI has placed greater emphasis on counter-intelligence tactics to combat threats of terrorism. The FBI official website also lists cyber crime, public corruption, civil rights, organized crime, violent crime and major theft as additional issues they investigate.

 

The ATF calls itself “The Violent Crime Bureau,” on its website and is a regulatory and law enforcement agency within the U.S. Department of Justice. ATF’s size is about 5,000 employees nationwide, of which half are special agents. A special agent from ATF described that when he was looking at an agency to join, this was the small to medium-sized agency he was looking for.

 

All three special agents emphasized that the choice about which agency to join is very personal. Each special agent said that their agencies have officers across the country with some international liaisons, but that most of the work remains within the U.S.

 

As far as what students can do to prepare for work in a special agency, the agents said foreign language skills are useful in distinguishing oneself from the competition. Given that most of the federal government work is within the U.S., Special Agent Cruz, a Spanish speaker himself, noted that foreign languages of bordering countries, such as Spanish or French, are the most useful, especially in his work as an investigator of foreign nationals.

 

 

For the opportunity to apply for government agencies, the special agents recommended that students visit www.usajobs.gov. Vacancies posted by agencies are typically only open for 24 hours.

 

*Full names of the agents were not published, as requested by the agents to maintain confidentiality.

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