COLLEGE PARK – The CIA recruiting booth did a brisk business at the University of Maryland career fair Wednesday, as students joined the “unprecedented” boom in applications to the spy agency since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The line was filled with people like Stacey Richburg, a senior finance major who had planned to be a stockbroker, but now is thinking of doing auditing and accounting for the CIA.
“I think it’s really neat how they can track the bank accounts of the hijackers,” Richburg said. “It’s seems much more interesting than being a stockbroker.”
CIA recruiters at College Park said they have seen increased interest among college students on other campuses, too, since Sept. 11. Agency officials said that reflects a growing number of applications from all sectors.
“The interest is unprecedented,” said Mark Mansfield, a CIA spokesman. “Normally, in a week, we get 500 to 600 resumes, and since the attacks occurred, the resumes have increased tenfold.”
Mansfield said that the agency has received applications for numerous positions, including analysts, scientists, technicians, linguists, economists and operations officers — commonly known as spies.
“It’s very, very good because we are getting resumes from very high- caliber people who . . . may have not been interested prior to the attacks,” Mansfield said. “The more applications we get, the better.”
Students waited in long lines to talk to representatives from the CIA, one of about 60 potential employers to set up shop at the job fair Wednesday. FBI recruiters are scheduled to visit campus Thursday for the second day of the job fair.
Many seniors who visited the CIA booth had planned on careers in other fields. But since the attacks, companies have started downsizing and students have been broadening their job search.
“I don’t think I would have looked twice before,” at the CIA, said Monique Goodger, a graduate student studying survey methodology research.
Eric Modrow, finance major, said he is applying to more government agencies because he anticipates that the market for finance jobs will be unstable when he graduates in May.
“Definitely after Sept. 11, I’d like to be an agent,” Modrow said. “I’m also looking at working for the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), that would probably be a little safer.”
Mike Norris, a senior who is studying economics and government and politics, is applying to finance positions within the agency.
“My sense of patriotism was rekindled,” Norris said.
Mansfield said the CIA has doubled the number of people working to counter terrorism since the attacks. He said the CIA is “absolutely determined to find out who is responsible for the attacks . . . and hopefully, the people we recruit at the career fair will be working to fight terrorism.”
Dennis Park hopes to be one of those people. Park, who graduated from Maryland with a degree in information technology last May, came back to the university’s career fair with specific plans to talk to CIA recruiting officers about a national security job.
Park acknowledged that he was “capitalizing on terrorism in a way.” But, he added, “It feels good to be a part of the government.”