Have you ever wondered how to transition your career from the Intelligence Community (IC) to the private sector or vice versa? Or how to transfer to a different intelligence agency or even to a new role within your current agency?

Career coaches and professionals who have successfully made such transitions shared insights to these common questions July 22 at USGIF and INSA’s “Mid-Career Reboot: Challenges and Choices” event in Arlington, Va.

Preston Golson, director of the Brunswick Group and a former CIA employee, urged attendees to consider how their skills can transfer to other industries.

“Never short-change your skill set,” Golson said. “The core component of why I got hired [in my current role] was my ability to deal with complex information and make it understandable for clients.”

Kelly Brickley, who transitioned from a career with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to her current role as senior director of cyber risk at Capital One, emphasized the importance of humility and adaptability.

“Know the skills you’re bringing but be willing to go out and learn the other puzzle pieces,” she said, describing how she learned to code and decided to pursue new certifications upon joining Capital One. “Learn new skills but be confident in what you bring to the table.”

Deirdre Walsh, COO at ODNI, described how the IC is evolving alongside the rest of the world, striving to keep pace with modern challenges such as big data, cybersecurity, and increasing interconnectedness.

“This is a world with more threats and more access to information than in the past,” Walsh said.

As such, ODNI is championing an “agile workforce,” exploring ways for intelligence personnel to work beyond the SCIF and the beltway. Walsh added that ODNI is “working tirelessly” on security clearance challenges, including those that allow for easier movement of talent between agencies and the public and private sectors.

Walsh also said as opposed to the term “career ladder” she is a proponent of the term “career lattice,” which, especially for more experienced professionals, represents the ability to move laterally and to pursue new experiences.

Concluded Golson: “The beauty of an intelligence career is you can have many careers within your career.”


Posted by Kristin Quinn