spies, national security, espionage, counterterrorism, u.s. foreign policy, intelligence operations, CIA, special forces, counterterrorism, terrorism

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

CIA: A Good Place to Work?

The Central Intelligence Agency is getting better employee job reviews these days than it did in 2010, but management is still a headache,  the spy agency's workers say on a public gripe board.

About 18 months ago I wrote about a commercial Web site called glassdoor.com, which offers “an inside look at jobs and companies,” including, as it turned out, the CIA.

In fact, GlassDoor had set up a page just for CIA employees, I wrote in an Oct. 2010 column.

The employee responses -- all anonymous, of course -- then rated the CIA as only an “ok” place to work.

Today, it seems that things are a little better, according to more recent postings.

One employee called the spy agency “a special place, with a critical mission,” touting its “excellent colleagues, extensive opportunities [and] opportunities to address exciting issues.”

It’s a place where you meet “phenomenal people who put mission and country before self and money,” said another.

Likewise, another employee said, “At the CIA, you feel like you do work that actually makes a difference.”

He (or she) added:

“They have a structured training program and hold different classes and seminars at least once a week, usually at the main headquarters. Because there are so many employees, there are groups and clubs within the organization for special interests, such as Mandarin [Chinese] practice.”

Plus,  “Their salary is competitive and you are surrounded by hard-working, good people.”

Yet another employee listed the “pros” of working at the CIA as “serving your country, relative job security,” and “good stepping stone for international relations majors to other analyst jobs.”

The biggest “con” for employees? Managers, still.

“Bureaucracies can be frustrating. Seniority takes too much precedence over performance,” wrote one employee.

“Poor management at senior levels is not recognized and corrected,” said another. There is “constant reorganization and movement of people.”

Another advised senior management to “Eliminate the horrible promotion system and let managers who directly manage the people determine who gets promoted.”

Of course, working at the CIA has its special challenges.

“You have to lie to almost everyone about what you do for a living or how your day was at work. You cannot have friends from certain countries. If you will be staying in the same house/room with a non-US citizen, you must report it and have it approved in advanced,” noted an employee who otherwise seemed to love the job.

But you knew that, right?