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Could working at the FBI ruin my future?
March 20, 2006 12:49 PM   Subscribe

I am interested in an analyst position at the FBI, but ultimately, I would like to work for a non-profit like Human Rights Watch or as a researcher at a think tank. I know that if you've worked for the FBI, there are certain things that you can never do because of it, such as joining the Peace Corp, for example. So my question is: would working for the FBI compromise my future career aspirations? Would I forever be seen as biased by possible employers? Is it really true, as people tell me, that "once a member of the Bureau, always a member of the Bureau"? And, what does that REALLY mean?
posted by exacta_perfecta to Work & Money (5 answers total)
I don't know about the FBI, but there's a guy working for Human Rights Watch now who, during the first year or so of the Iraq war, worked for the CIA as a targeting analyst. He helped conduct HRW's survey on civilian casualties in Iraq. Basically 3 years ago he sat in an office in Washington and chose targets for our "smart bombs;" then he switched jobs, went over to Iraq, and tried to assess the collateral damage done by the bombs he had helped target.

Heard about him from a report on NPR's Morning Edition a few months ago. It would seem that working for the government might be a perfect step towards working for HRW.
posted by junkbox at 1:06 PM on March 20, 2006

junkbox: that sounds kind of like the IRS agents that go on to be aggressive anti-tax accountants.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:27 PM on March 20, 2006

exacta_pefecta: Shoot me an e-mail (check my MeFi profile). I have a little bit of info regarding junkbox's post that relates to your question.
posted by jed at 6:56 PM on March 20, 2006

Working at the FBI could hurt your eligibility for the Peace Corps if you work on intelligence (or terrorism) matters. But working solely for them in their law enforcement capacity should not.

The Peace Corps is a special case, because they want to avoid any perception of having spies among the people it sends abroad. I don't know of any other employer who would actively discriminate against someone who had worked at the bureau. Almost everyone will look upon this line on your resume as a serious plus. The FBI is extremely selective and highly regarded.

Is it really true, as people tell me, that "once a member of the Bureau, always a member of the Bureau"?

FBI guys look fondly upon former FBI employees. But this isn't the Mafia we are talking about. Of course you can quit.
posted by profwhat at 7:56 PM on March 20, 2006

As you thought, the Peace Corps is rather a special case (similar Ask thread). I don't see previous FBI experience as a problem in being considered for a position somewhere similar to HRW (which is often looking for 'human rights researchers / field investigators' that would use skills acquired at the Bureau) or any think tank type organization. Echoing Profwhat, it's most likely to be seen as 'a serious plus' unless you're applying somewhere with a suspicious & paranoid HR department and/or an antagonistic stance against the US Government... which sounds like someplace you wouldn't want to work anyway.
posted by SenshiNeko at 3:59 AM on March 21, 2006

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