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Secret Service seeks students at Ohio Union

The United States Secret Service came to Ohio State as part of an internship career fair Tuesday and is scheduled to be at Ohio Union’s Performance Hall today.

This is the first time the College of Arts and Sciences has hosted a career fair that the Secret Service is involved in, said April Calkovsky, internship adviser in Arts and Sciences Career Services.

“The most important thing you can do for yourself is meet your employer face-to-face, and this allows for that,” Calkovsky said.

The Secret Service hopes to see many faces.

“We try to visit as many colleges and military bases as we can,” said Jacquie Wasson, Secret Service employee for the recruitment program. “It’s competitive out there, and we’re looking for the best of the best.”

The Secret Service also looks for the best at high schools and even elementary schools.

“We started actively recruiting after 1985 and the Oklahoma City bombing,” said David Barrick, acting resident agent in charge of the Columbus Field Office. “All agencies increased after 9/11.”

Secret Service application processes and background checks could take nine to 18 months, he said.

Started in 1865 as a branch of the U.S. Treasury Department, the Secret Service employs about 3,200 special agents, 1,300 uniformed division officers and more than 2,000 other technical, professional and administrative support personnel, according to the Secret Service website.

The qualifications and training are different for all three divisions of employment. Special agents and uniformed division officers undergo some of the most rigorous application processes and training.

“It’s a nine-month interview process,” said Michelle George, a 2009 OSU graduate. “There’s initial interviews, then panel interviews, then a polygraph test.”

Special agents are responsible for protecting high-level officials and families of officials, such as the president, vice-president or foreign diplomats.

Uniformed division officers are compared to a police force providing protection at designated complexes, such as the White House, official residence of the vice president or the main treasury building.

To be considered for either position, a person must first be a U.S. citizen, hold a valid driver’s license and be between the ages of 21 and 37 for a special agent and between the ages of 21 and 40 for a uniformed division officer. After this, an extensive background check is required that takes anywhere from six to nine months, according to the Secret Service website.

A physical examination will also be administered examining vision, hearing, cardiovascular health and mobility. Applicants must also be able to perform strenuous activities and be physically fit.

The training process begins after an applicant has met all the requirements and passes in-depth interviews and a hiring panel, Darrick said.

Uniformed division officers undergo a 12-week training program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Ga., to learn how to be a federal police officer. After completion, the trainees then undergo 13 weeks of specialized instruction at the James J. Rowley Training Center outside of Washington, D.C. If the trainee fails either one of these programs, his or her relationship with the Secret Service will be terminated.

For special agents, a similar initial training program is put in place at the FLETC. Agents undergo 10 weeks of basic criminal investigator training, followed by more specialized training at the James J. Rowley Training Center for 17 weeks in a special agent basic training program. Firearms requalification and emergency medicine refresher courses are required throughout an agent’s career.

The Secret Service offers students the chance to become involved in two primary programs, Darrick said. The Student Temporary Employment Program is a paid program where students do clerical work. The Student Volunteer Service is an internship allowing for study-related assignments in either Washington, D.C., or a local field office for academic credit.

“We try to get somebody usually in their junior year or senior year,” Darrick said.

Typically, the Secret Service sees results from recruiting four to five years down the line, Darrick said.

“My brother’s in the Navy and I just wanted to go my own route with serving the country,” George said.

Calkovsky said the Secret Service is undergoing a women’s initiative to get more women involved in the Secret Service and federal government.

“We received a flier about a year ago, and we’re really looking to get more women and diverse candidates on board,” Calkovsky said. “They’re trying to increase the diversity of federal employees.”

The Secret Service will be available for questions in the Archie Griffin Grand Ballroom in the Union Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and discussing their career opportunities from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in 155 Jennings Hall.


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