I decide to email the recruiter that set up my first interview with a few questions. This recruiter always answers my phone calls and emails, which is more than I can say for my Program Officer. The recruiter sends me a lengthy email with some good information in it:
- My recruiter looked into my application at that moment and tells me that “everything seems to be in line with my processing thus far”. This means they haven’t found a way to cut me yet, but best believe they are still trying!
- I am given a completely different timeline from that I heard from my Program Officer. My recruiter tells me that it may be 120 days after my 3-day before I am contacted by a background investigator. I was originally told 4-6 weeks after the 3-day, but it has been over 7 weeks and I haven’t heard anything. I find out that my mysterious job title of TIO Tech Dev is the same as a job title that is posted online called Program Management Engineer. So why have two job titles for the same position?
- Apparently DST doesn’t use the www.Brainbench.com tests, so that was unique to the DI.
- Most applicants EOD in the same position from their COE. If my job position gets filled by the time I EOD (which could be centuries from now), then I can be offered another position at that time.
On November 4th and 5th 2010, I attend the Society of Women Engineers career fair (yeah, it’s for women, but so what, a job fair is a job fair) which just happens to be taking place in Orlando, FL where I currently live. Prior to the career fair, I’m contacted by a couple of recruiters from the same company that want to interview me. I have that interview at the career fair, as well as 3 others. This totals 4 interviews over a 2 day period for me, whew! But here is the irony: During one day at the conference, I’m in an Intelligence Community info session panel hosted by CIA/NRO, FBI, NCIS, and other Military Intelligence people. I see a lady in the back of the audience that looks just like one of my interviewers. I must be crazy, so I ignore it. I go up to the FBI rep after the panel and impress her. We exchange info so that I can follow up after the conference. Later at the career fair, I’m in line to grab the free lunch provided, and a young lady comes up to me and says something…which I forget. She’s cute, and very pleasant, and we start a brief conversation. Then I look down at her nametag, which we all have to wear, and see that she is with the CIA! She tells me she is with NCS and asks me about my background, which I tell her, and she says “do you want to come work for us?” So I explain to her that I am currently an applicant and that I thought I saw one of my interviewers the previous day. She says the name of the DST lady that is with them and I realize that that is her! The NCS young lady suggests that I come to the booth and say hi. I find out that the NCS lady waited 14 months from her application to get in, so I don’t feel as bad. She also asks me if I am a runner, which I am. According to her, runners have a different heart rate that can screw with the polygraph results. Coincidentally, there is an NSA booth at this same career fair and the NSA HR rep tells me that she took 3 NSA polys, and she has high anxiety which complicated her poly sessions. Ah ha! I should have mentioned this! Stupid polygraph, it is so unreliable! So I walk over to the CIA booth at the fair and see my interviewer, and the other CIA reps, eating lunch. My interviewer is pleased to see me, smiles, says hi, and even reveals my processing status to another random interested applicant who was at the booth. So much for being discreet.
The rejection letter came on Veteran’s Day, Thursday November 11, 2010. I’m not sure where I went wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t have said so much at the career fair. Maybe my polygraph charts weren’t acceptable. Maybe I made too many “minor” confessions. My doorbell rings about 11:00am. It’s FedEx and I’m presented with a large thin envelope. It was from the CIA, and contained an unfolded letter saying:
“Thank you for your interest in the Central Intelligence Agency. Unfortunately, you have been disapproved for access to classified information…the agency is rescinding its conditional offer of employment to you, effective immediately.”
The letter was written only the day before, and was sent overnight. Wow, they just couldn’t wait to break the news to me! I’m also surprised that FedEx was even running on this national holiday. My first rejection letter came via postal mail in a standard envelope with the letter folded and looked like a general letter that everybody gets. They took care to personally write me this letter. How nice of them. The letter also states that I should receive a written statement to explain the exact reason for my security disapproval. I can’t wait for this. This ought to be good. After over a year in process, medical testing, polygraphs, psych and IQ tests, and other crap, this is what I get. I email my Program Officer and recruiters saying “goodbye” and that the CIA has crushed my dreams. My life no longer has meaning. I was rejected from the CIA on Veteran’s Day. Gotta love this country. I’m devastated.
So the following Monday, November 15th 2010, my doorbell rings again and I get another letter in the mail. Not from FedEx, but certified U.S. mail in a thick standard size envelope. The letter comes from some lady in MD (I thought it was my Mom at first!). The lady is actually a Senior Adjudication Officer who has a PO Box in PG County, MD (my home sweet home!) There are several letters and forms enclosed that explain why I was denied. I now have to say on all future government forms that I was denied access to classified information, hence, denied a clearance. My life is over. The letter indirectly states that I was booted based on the polygraph. Apparently I was altering my physiological responses during the polygraph, which falls under Intelligence Community Policy Guidance (ICPG) 704.2 Personal Conduct.
On this same day one of my original recruiters, the one who interviewed me and that I also met at the recent job fair, emails me back to tell me how sorry she is and how she was looking forward to me coming aboard (yeah right, she’s probably in on this!). The following events also take place today:
- The NSA emails me requesting my transcripts for a Cryptanalysis Development Program (CADP)
- The FBI emails me that I was nominated for the Special Agent Phase 2 exam in January
- Northrop Grumman calls me to set up a phone interview for a top secret job
- Deloitte Consulting emails me to start moving me through the hiring processes
- I mail off my application for the U.S. Department of State Security Engineering Officer (SEO) position
- I email off my pre-interview forms to Bechtel BPMI for an upcoming interview
Most of these connections came from the recent career fair I attended. By the time I get to FBI Phase 2, they will probably ask for another PFT since it’s already been two months since I passed Phase 1.
I’m now unemployed due to my company lay-offs and it looks as if there is some hope for me since fall/winter is company recruitment season! But all of these jobs require clearance! Now I have to tell all them the horrors that happened to me with the CIA and that I was banned from classified information access. Damn you CIA, damn you for doing this to me! If I can never again get a government clearance because of what happened to me with the CIA, then my career is ruined. This is what I call the Domino Effect of Hell! What a way to start off the holidays.
My rejection letters tell me how to appeal which I choose to do, of course. No way will I let the CIA just ruin my career without a fight! Fuck you CIA and FUCK YOUR POLYGRAPH! I pretend I’m a lawyer and write my appeal letter poking holes in the adjudication argument that the adjudicator sent to me. I deny the accusation that I was altering my body responses and tell them that I am athletic and my breathing may be different than normal, any bodily reactions were unintentional and unconscious, and that I was never told until the very end of my polygraph sessions what I was doing “wrong” so there was no way I could correct it. I also file a request to get information on my investigation file, which probably isn’t much since no Background Investigation was started. I’m not sure if this counts as an FOIA request, my rejection letter just tells me to write her (the Senior Adjudicator) a letter of request.
On the next day, Tuesday November 16, I have a phone interview with Northrop Grumman and they give me the impression that they want to move forward with the hiring steps, where I’ll need a TS/SCI clearance…likely the same one that the CIA just denied me. Deloitte Consulting also calls me to inform me of the next steps in their hiring process. My CIA appeal letter better be rock solid. All those hours of watching Law and Order on TV need to pay off right now. After reviewing my CIA rejection letters and editing my appeal letter several times, I finally mail it off on Wednesday November 17. On this same day my formal Program Officer finally calls me, after I had to call her co-worker and get a note left on her desk about this urgent matter. I find out that I was officially denied a CIA clearance based on what happened during the polygraph. I’m accused of not following instructions, though I did not have adequate instructions to follow. I can only hope for the best. From what I’ve read on the internet, there is little to no chance of clearance appeals being overturned. I probably have a better chance at winning the lottery. I can only hope that Northrop Grumman doesn’t want me to get a CIA clearance now.
On November 22nd, I get an email from BAE Systems Inc. saying that I’ve been invited to the Operational Leadership Development Program (OLDP) interviews in about a week (only days before my BPMI interview). I also get a call from the NSA (from a private number of course) following up with me from the recent job fair and transcripts that I sent in. They want to do a security phone interview tomorrow. This interview apparently will last less than 30min and is just to see if I can “get the clearance”. They will ask me about crime, finances, etc. Oh great. I’ve been down this path before with the CIA. I’m not going to get too excited here, they will ask about my government clearance history and I’ll have to explain what happened on my CIA polygraph. We’ll see how it goes. My Department of State Security Engineering Officer (SEO) application also has apparently been received in DC. Maybe I’ll hear from them in a couple of weeks?
On Tuesday November 22nd, I have my NSA security phone interview. They ask me the basics about crime, foreign contacts, financials, and security clearance. They do not ask if I’ve ever been denied a security clearance, so I didn’t have to spill my CIA story, but I’m sure that time will come later if I’m lucky enough to move through the process. I also call and set up my BAE interview. Now I have BPMI and BAE interviews next month. The next day the NSA emails me information to take a computer aptitude test locally here in Orlando, which I will do in a few days. The test is called the Career Qualification Battery Test (CQBN…though I’m not sure what the “N” stands for). I wonder if this is similar to the CIA Brainbench.com test? If I do well enough on this test, then I’ll be invited to Ft. Meade for my interview. I must say that at this point the NSA moves much faster than the CIA. I haven’t heard back from Northrop Grumman yet, but oh well. Recruitment season is underway! Hopefully I’ll have an OFFICIAL JOB OFFER by 2011, because all this interviewing, recruiting, filling out security forms, and saying the same thing to every company is starting to wear me down. I need to get hired and move out of Florida!
On Saturday November 27th I take my NSA Career Battery Exam. This test in no way compares to any other standardize test I’ve taken, including the FBI and CIA’s. I take it locally at a testing center known as the Prometrics Testing. There are several others in there to take other exams like the CPA and GMAT. My test seems to be one of a kind. It is actually called a WAG exam which I find out stands for “Washington Area Government”. The test takes me 2.5 hours. There are 9 sections on the test and there was no way to study for this thing. It is a multiple choice aptitude exam that consists of puzzles, a bit of sentence completion and vocabulary, and some test on if I can decipher an artificial language. I even had 3 minutes to try to solve 40 multiplication problems where I would multiply a 2-digit number by a 1-digit number and say whether the answer given was correct or not. Then I had 3 minutes to solve 27 addition problems where I would have to add up 5 2-digit numbers. The IQ portion was kind of fun. It was one of those “what shape can you make with these pieces” and “what comes next in the series” types of test. I even had to try to figure out the patterns of matrices filled with numbers and letters. I know I screwed up on the artificial language section, as I didn’t fully understand the directions until the end. I actually didn’t even have enough time to finish many of the sections! This doesn’t happen to me, I have always finished my standardize tests with time to spare. SAT, GRE, GMAT, CIA Brainbench, FBI Phase 1, etc. Well, the NSA is no joke. But since I like solving puzzles and I know if I had more time I would have done better, I think I would love a career in Cryptanalysis! I always said I would love to solve puzzles for a living, and this would be pretty cool.