By Michelle Witte
They are the best that the nation has to offer, investigating crime and preventing terrorism in an elite force of special agents. Soon some BYU students may be joining that team as recruiters from the Federal Bureau of Investigation present an informational meeting Tuesday.
The meeting, presented September 28 from 6 to 7 p.m. in Room 3211 of the Wilkinson Student Center, will feature Mike Eckel, FBI Supervising Special Agent and BYU alumnus.
The informational meeting is in addition to the annual FBI presence at the career fair. Rich Cox, advisor for Career Placement Services at BYU, said that the good attributes possessed by BYU students is one of the reasons for continued recruiting on campus.
“We demonstrate the qualities that they are looking for in their candidates,” Cox said. “Issues of honesty and integrity, of patriotism, certainly, and genuine commitment, a good work ethic.”
Cox said the large presence of returned missionaries on campus affects the FBI recruiters coming more often to BYU. The beneficial effects students receive from their mission experience attract recruiters looking for qualified applicants.
“Not just the languages, but the maturing aspect of the mission contributes significantly to the standards that our students hold,” Cox said. “The fact that they”ve gone out and worked hard for two years in an unusual environment in a volunteer capacity. These things all add up.”
Special Agent Nancy Pearson, recruiter for the Salt Lake City office of the FBI, said that they are specifically looking for students that possess many of the skills acquired during the mission.
“There are a lot of foreign languages and possible fluencies and proficiencies because there are a lot of people that have gone on foreign speaking missions,” Pearson said.
Although all students are welcome to attend the informational meeting Tuesday, the bureau is looking for qualified candidates who possess the skills necessary for success in the FBI. These skills include a focus on language studies, especially Middle and Far Eastern languages, Asian languages and Spanish.
“We try to hit all the schools in Utah, especially the departments that have critical skills that we”re looking for,” Pearson said. “Specifically that meeting is going to be, I believe, targeting towards the language departments and etcetera, which is one of our critical skills.”
New areas of focus for recruiters, which were listed on the informational posters around campus, are minorities, women, and students with disabilities.
“Simply, we”re trying to increase diversity within the FBI,” Pearson said. “That”s always a goal, I think that”s a goal of everybody”s is to increase diversity.”
Pearson said that the new focus doesn”t mean that qualified applicants who don”t fit into these categories won”t be considered for positions with the bureau.
“It”s not that we”re not looking for just everybody because we”re looking for the most qualified candidates, the people that have those critical skills that we need,” Pearson said. “But at the same time we would also like to increase diversity.”
Cox said students interested in working for the FBI should start early and plan ahead to make sure that they meet the requirements of the job.
Not only does the FBI look at the schooling of applicants, but they look at the principles and past actions of the applicant as well.
“We have a stringent background investigation which is going to go towards a person”s personal integrity and how they”ve lived their life up to the point that they apply,” Pearson said.
A clean arrest record and little or no drug use are required for potential candidates and are verified by the background investigation.
“When you apply, you fill out a long application that”s extremely in depth and detailed, that includes every residence you”ve lived in, every job you”ve had, even if it”s been for a day,” Pearson said.
The scope of the investigations are broad and include interviews with people that have known the applicant anywhere from 10 to 15 years in the past and can even stretch back to when the applicant was 16 years old, Pearson said.
Former BYU student Ryan Meyers, 25, is currently going through the process of applying for the intelligence department of the FBI. Meyers recently graduated from BYU with a major in psychology.
His desire to be a part of the FBI stretches back to when he was a child.
“It”s something that I”ve actually always wanted to do growing up and when I didn”t know much about it, it seemed very exciting,” Meyers said. “I always wanted to do something that would help the country and help protect people.”
He said that many of the skills he possesses, such as problem solving and planning, will help him as special agent.
“I think I do well in finding information and being able to decide whether it”s valid intelligence or whether it”s a threat to homeland security or not, and then to be able to problem solve and come up with good solutions to it,” Meyers said.