Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to become a spy. It only has three letters yet the word ‘spy’ conjures up images of everything from tense Cold War espionage and paranoia to action-packed adventures involving Ethan Hunt, Jason Bourne, Emma Peel, James Bond or even, heaven help us, Johnny English. Hugely popular TV shows such The Blacklist, Homeland and Spooks also fuel the notion that there are sleepers, double agents and assassins around every corner who require super-secret and super-sexy agents to erase them. The guns, the gadgets and the good looks – how real is it?
Forget the stereotypical spy of the movies. Most agencies state that there is no ‘one type’ of person they recruit into Intelligence Officer positions. What you will need are strong intellectual, communication and interpersonal skills, and the ability to make decisions and deliver. For some roles, the secret is not to stand out but to blend in with the crowd.
Take MI5, Britain’s Security Service and intelligence agency. To join their graduate programme for Intelligence Officer Development you need to have a decent degree in any discipline or two years work experience.’The work requires sound judgement, a focus on delivery and the ability to make reasoned decisions. It requires excellent communication skills and the ability to form productive working relationships with people from a range of backgrounds. You will also need a high level of organisational skills. Working for MI5 also requires honesty, integrity and discretion.’ (And you need to be British.)
New Zealand’s own GCSB seeks ‘candidates with expertise in at least one foreign language, ideally an Asian or Middle Eastern language. A bachelor or higher degree in foreign languages, politics, international relations, history, economics or in a technical or scientific field would be an advantage.Successful applicants will have:
- Excellent oral and written communication skills
- Strong research and analysis skills
- Aptitude for technical and language training
- Good general knowledge and interest in international political, economic, and security affairs, and a broad understanding of New Zealand’s offshore interests
Do you have what it takes? Test your skills with these two challenges:
Separate fact from fiction with this myth-busters interview with the Curator from the International Spy Museum:
14 Ways Spy Movies Are Nothing Like Real Life
(source: Vanity Fair online)