Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology
Sears Holdings Corporation



December 2011/January 2012

Diversity/Careers December 2011/January 2012 Issue

Women of color
Pharma & biotech
Systems engineers
LGBT tech pros
Grace Hopper in OR

Asian American BEs
News & Views
Regional roundup
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Diversity in action
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DRS Technologies

Diversity In Action

The Defense Intelligence Agency: vital component of U.S. intell

With 16,500-plus employees, DIA produces and manages defense intelligence to prevent strategic surprise and aid decision-making

Following 9/11, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), like many intelligence agencies, entered a period of growth. To meet the immediate need for experience, hiring managers sought candidates who entered at the higher government employment grades. But as the agency marks its fiftieth anniversary, the focus has shifted to shaping intelligence professionals of the future. Although there's still a need for experience, DIA will now be bringing in more employees at the entry and developmental level, says Mary Kay Byers, chief of the HR office at the DIA directorate for human capital.

The DIA is a Department of Defense combat support agency and an important part of the U.S. intelligence community. With more than 16,500 military and civilian employees at locations in the U.S. and abroad, DIA is a major producer and manager of military intelligence from a variety of sources. Warfighters, defense policy makers and force planners in the DOD and the intelligence community rely on the agency's information. Alongside warfighters and interagency partners, agency employees deploy around the world to defend America's national security interests.

Although hiring of new college grads is increasing, DIA typically seeks people with some experience in another federal agency or the private sector.

Specific experience requirements vary by position. DIA will certainly continue to have jobs where "It's absolutely critical to have someone with higher-level skills and experience who can walk into a job and be able to perform after a brief learning curve," Byers explains.

On the IT side DIA hires a range of specialists, including those in info security, project management, network service, apps software, and systems and program analysis. In engineering, DIA wants folks who can address technical issues in EE, software, nuclear engineering and more, including plenty of systems engineering, Byers says. Depending on the job, the specialty and the mission need, the agency looks for techies with broad knowledge in data processing methods, programming languages and many other specific technologies.

DIA is not currently increasing the overall size of its workforce. "We're entering what could be a long period of austerity, so we will essentially be hiring to replace attrition," Byers says. Projections are based on historical attrition trends and the budget situation. "We will closely monitor our progress as we go through the year, and revise our recruitment approach as warranted."

DIA is building partnerships with colleges and universities and identifying HBCUs and other schools that produce diverse students with the needed expertise. Byers notes that many of these academic partnerships focus on IT and engineering fields. The agency hires about 250 interns annually through summer and co-op programs announced on the USA Jobs website; summer 2012 opportunities for positions in analysis, collection, IT and more were posted in October 2011. The co-op program is a recruiting tool that helps DIA fill its entry-level positions with talented and diverse individuals, Byers says.

Aiming to attract a diverse workforce, DIA participated in events with an array of professional organizations during the past year; they include Federally Employed Women (FEW), the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Society of American Indian Government Employees (SAIGE). The agency also participated in events hosted by a variety of diversity-focused career fair producers.

All new employees take part in a year-long on-boarding program, starting with a three-week introduction to the agency's culture and values.

Mentoring is a key component of DIA's overall strategy to recruit, train and shape a strong future workforce, Byers says. DIA has partnered with FEW and its own women's executive forum to provide mentoring for women and minorities, including group mentoring pilots designed to broaden and diversify the upper levels of future DIA leadership.

Employees are encouraged to participate in community outreach, especially in math and science programs at elementary schools in Washington, DC and Huntsville, AL.

As an agency DIA is focused on work-life balance for its employees, Byers says. "On the professional side we have an accredited university that confers BA and masters degrees in intelligence studies," she notes. Childcare is available, and employees at most locations have access to fitness rooms.


Defense Intelligence Agency

Headquarters: Joint Base
Washington, DC
Employees: 16,500 military and civilian
Mission: Combat support; provides strategic warning and integrated risk assessment; plans and directs defense intelligence activities; collects, processes, exploits and analyzes foreign military and defense-related information; integrates and disseminates timely and relevant all-source analysis

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