FBI seeking new recruits, increases focus on terrorism

Amy Hackbarth

Special Agent Dan Miller said he hates sitting behind a desk.

The 1972 University graduate has escaped the confines of cubicles while working for the FBI. In 23 years at the bureau, Miller has worked to combat the spread of drug trafficking, thwart terrorism efforts and identify computer crimes.

“You never get stale in one area, you just switch from one squad to the next,” Miller said.

The FBI will be looking for others like Miller as the bureau begins its largest hiring campaign in recent history. At least 900 special agents will be hired before Sept. 30 as part of a restructuring program.

In response to the Sept. 11 attacks and continuing efforts to staunch terrorism, FBI agents will focus more on counter-terrorism than on the traditional crimes they handled in the past.

As a result, said Supervisory Special Agent Paul McCabe, the bureau is looking mostly for people with foreign language or computer science skills.

But because of a requirement that special agents must have at least three years of outside work experience, current college students aren’t yet eligible for the positions.

However, that doesn’t taper the bureau’s interest in college students. McCabe said the FBI attends career fairs at the University and other colleges, talks to people at the State Fair and visits companies to recruit potential agents.

“We’re always looking for the best and the brightest,” he said.

The three-year work requirement, however, prevents many interested law students from considering the FBI for employment, said Susan Gainen, director of career services at the University Law School.

“After students graduate, they have to work for three or four years before they’ll be hired by the FBI,” she said. “Since the reality of being an agent is in the distant future for most students, it’s never been anyone’s first priority.”

But the three-year wait doesn’t dampen University sophomore Drew Koepsell’s desire to join the bureau. A political science major, who works in the governor’s office, Koepsell has been interested in law enforcement since he was in fifth grade. When he was younger, Koepsell participated in a career shadowing program with the Apple Valley Police Department.

“I like the prestige and the seriousness of the issues they deal with,” he said.

Miller warned potential agents of the dangers the job carries.

“Some people don’t like being shot at or other people hating them,” he said. “But if you can stand all that, it’s worth it.”

Amy Hackbarth welcomes comments at [email protected]