Alumnus speaks to students about CIA careers

Joe Kiehl is a former CIA operative

“You are all very well poised to work at the agency,” a GW alumnus and former CIA overseas operative told a group of students last week at the GW Alumni House.

Joe Kiehl, ESIA BA ’72, MA ‘86, recently spoke to GW students who aspire to join the Central Intelligence Agency. He discussed his time at the agency and what steps the students could take to make themselves better candidates.

Kiehl describes the ideal candidate as “about 30 years old, with 5 years of military experience, a very high GPA and very extraverted.”

“GW is the number one producer of CIA operatives,” Kiehl said. “My time at GW taught me things that I would later use in paper for the agency.”  He also dispelled myths about his job.

“We don’t like to think of ourselves as spies.  People doing that work are our sources. We run them. A better comparison is to be a foreign correspondent for a newspaper,” he said.

Kiehl, who now does contract work for the agency, has spent time working in Bulgaria, Sub-Sarahan Africa, South America, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Current student Anne Dempsy, CCAS ’15, said she attended the event to better understand a career path in intelligence.

“I thought that it would be interesting to look at this career from a more realistic perspective than what I have been previously exposed to through popular media. This opportunity provided me with a method of exploring possible career choices in the government that I had not previously considered,” Dempsy said in an email.

The event was part of the speaker series “How Do I Become A…”, which invites alumni to speak to students with similar career interests.

After relaying stories about his career all evening, only one question remained for Kiehl: Would he be in line to see the new James Bond movie this weekend?

“I’m more of a Dr. No man myself,” Kiehl sighed. “I’ll probably check it out when it comes on DVD.”

The “How Do I Become A…” lecture series is designed to expose the University community to various careers by bringing distinguished alumni back to GW. Click here to learn more. 

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