IC Officers Engage at National STEM Academic Conference

Intelligence Officers Share Their Experiences and How Students Could Help IC Mission

For the third consecutive year, members of the United States Intelligence Community joined the “Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics” (oSTEM) National Conference in Chicago, Illinois. This conference brings together distinct talent from across the IC and provides the opportunity to dispel misconceptions of being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) in the IC.

oSTEM is a national organization that focusses on educating, empowering, and engaging a diverse community, as well as well as identifying, addressing and advocating for the needs of LGBTQ students. oSTEM works to fulfill these students’ needs through mentorship, networking, strategic collaboration, and professional development. 

The conference had more than 700 STEM undergraduate and graduate students from universities across the country.

One session, the Career and Graduate School Bootcamp, provided an opportunity for the students to engage with industry partners and hone their skills for interviewing, resume writing, and ‘elevator pitching.’ Members of IC Pride, the ODNI LGBT IC Affinity Network, were on-hand to meet with the students and discuss STEM careers in the IC.

Lee M., Chair of IC Pride, and an inspector with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) said, “The boot-camp provided an informal environment for the students to engage with industry. Many of the students with whom I spoke came by the job fair to drop off their resumes. [It] was a great icebreaker.”

Chris M., the Deputy Director of Equal Employment Opportunity & Diversity at the National Security Agency (NSA), was a panelist in the Inside Scoop from Professional Recruiters workshop. He shared unique insights into making resumes and cover letters stand out from the crowd and provided tips to avoid common pitfalls. Chris highlighted the importance of social skills like collaboration, attitude, and self-awareness.  “From 15 years of experience as a technical recruiter, applicants often forget that their interpersonal skills are equally important to showcase along with technical skills since most companies have highly-collaborative, team-based environments,” he said.

The Career and Graduate School Expo drew a healthy crowd, and the attendees had an opportunity to ask questions and network. ODNI sponsored an IC booth; professional recruiters from CIA, DIA, and NSA were on hand to answer questions about their respective agencies; and members of IC Pride from CIA, NGA, NSA and NCTC provided their insights to the students on being LGBTQ in the IC. Chris C., a CIA LGBT Community Outreach Program Manager noted that more than 100 students stopped by the IC and CIA booths. Chris said, “A large majority of the students who approached the booth were highly-qualified in their academic prowess and overall suitability for entry-level positions in the IC.”

CIA led a special two-hour workshop entitled “How Your STEM Background Will Help CIA Accomplish Its Mission.” The Directorate of Science & Technology, and the Directorate of Digital Innovation, facilitated a simulation exercise, which allowed students to have the opportunity to assess data, evaluate the implications for U.S. interests, and present their conclusions.

Brian S., Co-Chair of IC Pride and an engineer at NSA, said “oSTEM is a great recruitment opportunity for the IC. Not only did this year have 25% of the attendee population self-identifying as gender non-binary, but each of the sessions and speakers were able to show the educational and business imperatives of being inclusive to the intersections of the queer community and other diverse populations. These students are extremely high performing, and their personal experiences will be essential in bringing mission success to the future of the U.S. Intelligence Community.”

The oSTEM National Conference strives to provide a safe place for all people to express themselves and contribute to the mission where diversity drives innovation. The 2018 oSTEM National Conference will be held in Austin, Texas. For more information on careers in the IC, visit: - IntelligenceCareers.gov.