What is the level of knowledge required for a position at NSA’s Tailored Access Operations? by Tony Garcia
Answer by Tony Garcia:
Daniel, I am not going to tell you to do your best in school or advise you on a career path. But I will share with you something that happened to me, and I hope it helps you.
When I was your age or thereabouts (it was so long ago), I visited several colleges, trying to determine which one was best suited for me. I had a dream list, a pretty-sure-I-can-get-into-this-school list, and a list of no-brainer schools.
In the spring I received letters of acceptance from schools on all three lists, including New York University, one of the schools I had visited. I was really intrigued with their film studies program and mentioned this to an older friend of mine. His response was one I would never forget: There’s nothing wrong with NYU, but why should I go there when I can go to Harvard?
It’s easy to take the path of least resistance, however one defines it. But the most gnawing, unrelenting aches occur when one looks back and asks, What if?
As for a career at NSA or any intelligence agency, keep in mind that one cannot excel in the field of intelligence with a facile mind. This is not a world of temperate individuals, and the harsh realities of religious extremists, oligarchs and madmen whose self-interests preclude rational thought make every sovereignty a target for annihilation. A keen sense of prospection and sound judgment can be your greatest assets in times like these.
Well-rounded individuals—those who have what is historically known as a renaissance education as well as technical skills—are the most likely candidates for successful intelligence careers. Is a career in this field worth it? I think so.
I wish you the best, Daniel, whatever your pursuits.