DNI Haines, College Students Explore the Possibilities of the Future

DNI Haines, College Students Explore the Possibilities of the Future


Story by Adelia Henderson, ODNI Office of Strategic Communications


Throughout 2022, ODNI leaders visited high schools and colleges across the United States to encourage students to use their skills for something greater than themselves and pursue a career in public service.


As part of this effort, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines attended the Southern Arizona Intelligence Summit at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Oct. 13, where she discussed career opportunities in the Intelligence Community for students during a fireside chat with Cecilia Mata, a member of the Arizona Board of Regents.


Throughout the event, Haines emphasized the importance of having a diverse workforce in the IC and answered questions from an audience of more than 400 people, which included students and faculty.


“It is absolutely fundamental for an Intelligence Community that’s trying to understand the world, to have diverse perspectives, diverse thinking and diverse experiences,” said Haines. “I think it’s important for the Intelligence Community to have a reflection of the country sitting at the table to bring questions to the fore so that we make better decisions.”


Haines underscored that diversity and inclusion also cultivates talent, public trust and innovation, which are crucial to the IC’s mission and democracy as a whole.


“The reality is, many of you are diverse and also incredibly talented, and we need you in our community,” said Haines. “If we’re going to attract you, we need to be diverse and give you a culture and experience that you want to join.”


In response to student questions, Haines also shared her own professional trajectory and indirect road to public service, as an example to encourage students to view their career paths as nonlinear. Having a career that includes studying judo and physics, practicing law, working as a car mechanic, flying planes and owning a bookstore, Haines’ different experiences gave her a variety of perspectives that she still relies upon in her work every day, she said.


“I’m really evidence of the fact that you can work in the Intelligence Community with almost any background,” said Haines.


As the conversation turned to specific IC hiring needs, she recognized that STEM is a huge ongoing recruiting focus, but emphasized that the IC offers professional opportunities in a variety of backgrounds outside science, technology, engineering and math in order to best accomplish its mission of serving the nation.


“The reality is we take folks with majors in just really every area. Don’t feel as if because you’re in one major, that the IC is, for some reason, off limits,” she said. “We have folks from every walk of life, and that is part of the diversity of thought that we need to bring into the IC.”


Stephanie La Rue, the Intelligence Community’s Chief of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility, also spoke at the summit about ongoing DEIA efforts in the IC. She and other representatives from across the community and various Department of Defense elements joined Haines on UA’s Tucson campus, which is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and an Intelligence Community Centers for Academic Excellence (IC CAE) school.


The IC CAE program helps the IC meet the nation’s demand for a diverse workforce to carry out national security priorities and obligations. The program supports future intelligence professionals by providing grants to help schools offer intelligence-related coursework, workshops, simulations, conferences and seminars, as well as access to a community of professionals dedicated to enhancing students’ knowledge of the IC.


“I can’t tell you how important it is to us to have these Intelligence Community Centers for Academic Excellence. The students here that can contribute to the work that we do in the future are fundamental,” said Haines.


As for her trip to Arizona, Haines said, “As crazy as it gets in my work, these [trips] end up being one of my most enjoyable experiences, because I take a moment to step out and see the next generation that’s going to be running the place. It gives me a little bit of hope and inspiration for the future.”

 University of Arizona


More than 150 students attended the Southern Arizona Intelligence Summit, including those designated as IC CAE Scholars.


If you are interested in learning more about student opportunities in the IC and current job vacancies, click here.