FBI intern recounts her summer, minus all the top secret stuff
Pi Beta Phi Sorority
Carver Promise Mentors
Modlin Center, House Manager
We know you’re not at liberty to say much about your FBI internship, but tell us how you spent the summer?
I was a volunteer intern for the Richmond field office of the FBI, working between 40 and 50 hours per week for three months.
We’re assuming the criminal justice major came in handy. How’d you decide to study criminal justice?
Several factors led to my being a criminal justice major. I have always had an interest in doing some sort of law enforcement work when I finish college, so I took the “Crime and Justice in Post-Modern Society” class at Richmond. That has been my favorite class of college so far, so I declared to major in criminal justice. My other major, sociology, complements criminal justice because both disciplines study people and the decisions they make. With the two majors, I have a better understanding of large societal patterns and common reasons for deviant behavior.
Dr. Malloy, who was a great professor, taught my “Crime and Justice in Post-Modern Society.” She was so interested in the topic, and she had great stories to complement the theories we were learning. She even took us to the City of Richmond’s jail. It really makes the class so much better when the teacher is excited to teach it. We had interesting readings and paper topics as well. I don't think Dr. Molloy teaches here anymore, but I'm sure there is no way for that class to be boring, under any professor.
Internships with the FBI have got to be difficult to come by. How’d you land the job?
I laugh when I get this question because I remember talking to my advisor about this internship the very first week of my freshman year. I have wanted to work for the FBI ever since an agent presented at a career fair I attended in the 9th grade. When I decided to attend the University of Richmond I started checking out the website of the FBI division in Richmond. The site listed a volunteer summer internship, so I printed out the page and brought it to Dr. Joan Neff, the chair of the criminal justice department and my sociology professor at the time. I didn't apply that year because I hadn't settled into college yet, but I wanted her advice on whether she thought it was a real possibility.
I sent in my resume in August 2006 and kept following up to make sure they received it. I was determined to work there; I refused to let my application be put on the back burner because I wanted to work there so badly! I'm sure I was a little bit annoying, but it paid off and they offered me a conditional job offer. Assuming I passed the background check, I could work there the next summer.
The background check was a long, arduous process. You have to fill out a form with the names and addresses of all the places you have lived, schools attended, jobs taken, etc. They do in-depth interviews with almost everybody you have contact with—family, friends, neighbors, professors and supervisors. I remember walking around campus about two months after I submitted my background form and everybody was telling me that an FBI agent had just been here asking about me. I also had to pass a drug test and a polygraph examination. Every employee of the FBI must have a Top Secret security clearance, which is why the process takes so long. My background check took about 9 months from beginning to end. I didn't get cleared until a week after I was supposed to start working!
The internship was completely worth the long application process, though. The internship was amazing, offering everything I could possibly want from a summer internship, and I didn't have to fetch a single cup of coffee, haha. I did, however, make a lot of copies and run a lot of errands inside the office. But I also had my own work desk, computer and Internet account. I helped agents with various administrative tasks they needed completed for their cases. I also organized data and evidence for several different cases. Sometimes agents would take me along to court with them, so I got to see sentencings and discussions with lawyers, U.S. Marshals and IRS agents. I also got to go to the FBI academy at Quantico and to the K9 unit at the State Police academy. I usually worked from 8:15 AM to 5:00 PM, with 45 minutes for lunch. The work environment was awesome. The people I worked with were fun and friendly, but were also focused hard workers. They helped me out a lot—if you ever want to know how much you don't know, try switching from a college classroom to a fast-paced office environment!
How has the internship prepared you for your future career?
The internship has definitely confirmed my career track. I have been interested in working for the FBI since I was 14, so I figured that this summer's internship would be my gauge to find out if I am really serious about it. I am. They gave me a lot of responsibility in my duties this summer, which I think has helped me mature. The people I worked with this summer were amazing, and they do incredible things for our community and our country. I would be honored to, one day, work with them or people like them.
Do any particular perks come along with interning for the FBI?
You get to make phone calls and say "This is Kelly Jo Bricca with the FBI in Richmond". People instantly started listening to me! It was great fun, especially since they couldn't possibly know I am just 20 years old. When I told friends and family I was interning with the FBI, they’d always ask if it was a particularly strict or scary work environment. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone was really nice and laid back; all the people who work for the Bureau are people you’d love to have as friends. They’re serious about their jobs, but not much else!
How has your liberal arts experience at Richmond prepared you for your future career?
There are a million different skills you need in an office environment, and without Richmond forcing me to branch out and study new subjects, I would not have been prepared. I am a criminal justice and sociology major, but the acting class I took to fulfill my art requirement helped me become a more outgoing person, and thus more willing to take the risk and keep checking up on my internship application. That's only one example. I worked on Excel a lot this summer and thanks to my statistics class, I was a pro! The liberal arts education introduces you to subjects and skills you might not necessarily be interested in or think you need, but in the end, I was so grateful that Richmond had allowed me to expand my academic horizons.