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Students Gain Valuable Insight into the Security Clearance Process from Alumni Panel

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Security Clearance Panel

On October 18, Career Services and Alumni Relations, along with the International Security and Economic Policy (ISEP) Student Council hosted an alumni panel on the security clearance process. After some questions from moderator Bryan Kempton, the audience of graduate and undergraduate students had the chance to ask questions. There was also an opportunity for students to connect with panelists one-on-one after the panel.  

Students from all specializations, and particularly ISEP students, frequently need to obtain security clearance for internships and jobs with the intelligence community, U.S. Deaprtment of Defense, USAID and U.S. Department of State, among other agencies and some private companies. As the panel illustrated, it can take anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years to obtain, depending upon the level of clearance issued and the agency. Issues that may delay or jeopardize obtaining clearance such as foreign contacts, outstanding financial debt, police records, or mental health/substance abuse issues can often be mitigated if they’re presented properly. 

Panelists represented diverse professional roles and experiences with the clearance process. Speakers included Engda Wubneh, foreign affairs officer at the State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (MPP, ‘16); Peter Cairns, deputy legislative assistant on the Joint Chiefs of Staff (MPP/JD, ‘13); Danna O’Rourke, senior consultant at Deloitte (MPP, ‘15); and Laura Krahl, operations specialist at the Treasury Department's Office of Intelligence and Analysis (MPP/Certificate in Terrorism Studies, ‘16). Panelists provided examples of how they obtained the clearance needed for jobs they were offered, by dealing with potential stumbling-blocks. They fielded questions on everything from selecting the best references to support your application to what to expect from polygraph examinations and drug tests. 

This event was part of our continuing efforts to bring alumni and current students together. The next alumni panel is scheduled for Thursday, October 26, with the International Development (IDEV) Student Council; focusing more broadly on careers in that field. Please be in touch with Bryan Kempton if you are interested in participating in similar events. 

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Megan Campbell
Director of Communications
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