What It’s Really Like To Be a Spy

3-20-2014 5-01-15 PM

Growing up exposed to pop culture, we have been immersed into this notion that being a spy is cool. You can’t really blame normal folk like me who grew up believing spies were attractive people who drove Ashton Martins, ate great food, drank expensive liquor, and has sex with only the best looking people in the planet.

However, according to Lindsay Moran (if that is her real name) being a real life CIA officer is far from what we see in Movies and TV shows. In fact, she compares being a spy not to James Bond, but to a salesman.

“A lot of tradecraft training focused on how to convince people to commit espionage,” Moran tells says. “It’s basic psychology … So much of what you do as a CIA operative is psychology-based. On the most basic level you’re acting — almost — as a clinical psychologist for your assets. They come to you with their problems, and you have to listen, and talk them through their issues.”

This is what the CIA is looking for, according to their job listing. You can visit it here if you want to see for yourself

“Operations Officers (OOs) are focused full time on clandestinely spotting, assessing, developing, recruiting, and handling individuals with access to vital foreign intelligence on the full range of national security issues. This human intelligence plays a critical role in developing and implementing US foreign and national security policy and in protecting US interests. OOs employ sound judgment, high integrity, strong interpersonal skills, and ability to assess the character and motivations of others to establish strong human relationships and trust that provides the foundation needed to acquire high-value intelligence from foreign sources. OOs deal with fast-moving, ambiguous, and unstructured situations by combining their “people and street smarts” with subject matter expertise and knowledge of foreign languages, areas, and cultures. An OOs career can include assignments in the NCSs three key areas of activity—human intelligence collection, counterintelligence, and covert action—on issues of highest interest to US national security, such as international terrorism, weapons proliferation, international crime and narcotics trafficking, and capabilities and intentions of rogue nations. Operations Officers serve approximately 50-70 percent of their time in overseas assignments that range typically from 2-3 years.

Operations Officers are given great amounts of responsibility and trust early in their careers. While they work in teams, they often need to “think on their feet”, using common sense and flexibility to make quick decisions on their own. OOs have demanding responsibilities, often requiring them to work long hours so it is essential that they be psychologically fit, energetic, and able to cope with stress. They must know themselves very well and a sense of humor is also a plus.”

Interesting right? Especially the last line that says having a sense of humor is a plus. Moran also says “You also have to figure out what motivates people, and what their vulnerabilities are because this is the information you will use to manipulate them to get what you want — which is secret information.”

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