NSA is Huge, but so are Opportunities to Connect and Grow
Learn more about careers that contribute to national security from the dedicated men and women who work in the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Blake L. admits he was a little shell-shocked when he came to NSA, wondering how he would find his way in a large agency filled with so many people.
Three years into his job, Blake is taking advantage of all kinds of opportunities to build professional relationships and camaraderie with his co-workers, not only within the Business Management & Acquisition Directorate, where he works, but across the agency as well.
He checks in with a mentor every other month, plays on two intramural sports teams at NSA – flag football and basketball – and he’s a member of NSA’s Next Gen Employee Resource Group.
“As a newbie, you’re unfamiliar with everything NSA has to offer and everything that it does, so these opportunities allow you to network and build relationships.”
During his time at NSA, he has worked in three different offices, an opportunity that expanded his web of connections and broadened his horizons by giving him exposure to different aspects of how business is run at NSA.
The opportunities were one of the things that drew Blake, a business management major with a minor in accounting, to the agency in the first place.
“NSA had a lot of opportunities that catered to recent grads,” says Blake, who had worked at a staffing agency before coming to NSA. “I knew the government was somewhere I could go and grow.”
So far, Blake’s experience has taken him from supporting IT capabilities, by making sure there was enough money in program budgets, to working in labor contracts, and now, manpower.
And while a government shutdown may have temporarily impacted what he was able to do at work, he never worried about losing his job because the government provides a stable environment that isn’t as prone to layoffs as the private sector can be, he says.
It wasn’t just the agency’s job stability that was attractive to Blake. It’s the financial stability, too.
“The TSP [Thrift Savings Plan] is a great way to save and prepare for retirement, whereas in the private sector, it’s become very hard and expensive to save,” he says.
Blake is also saving thousands in tuition costs as he works on his MBA thanks to the agency’s generous college tuition assistance program.
Blake hopes to deploy overseas and work for NSA on a military base and then maybe work at an NSA field site abroad. Coming from a family with many military members, Blake feels that his work is another way to serve the country.
“Things that I do are not saving a life per se. But a lot of things I do affect what the actual warfighter can do. It makes me feel good about myself.”
Blake is no longer intimidated about navigating the ins and outs of building a career at an agency that employs around 30,000 people. In fact, he’s been on the frontlines of helping to bring in new talent by serving as a technical recruiter at career fairs, where he’s able to talk about how business majors fit in to the larger picture at NSA and the agency’s workplace culture.
One of the things that has surprised Blake the most are the people, who’ve helped him feel more at home at work.
“When you hear about NSA, you’re thinking these people are straight geeks, introverted and not very personable. But I think it’s the opposite,” says Blake. “Everyone I’ve encountered is very helpful, always wanting to make sure no one is left behind because this place is huge.”
For more about what it’s like to work at NSA, visit the NSA Culture page.