Senior Emily Morris spent her summer working as an honors intern with the FBI in Washington, D.C., after meeting FBI employees through a Harding College of Business Administration (COBA) networking event.
Morris, an accounting student, attended the career fair last fall in search of summer internship opportunities. Before meeting the FBI at the career fair, Morris said she hadn’t planned on going into forensic accounting.
“I just thought it was a cool career path and I never considered it for myself,” Morris said. “I saw the FBI at the career fair and I was like, ‘Well, why not apply and see what happens?’”
FBI Director Christopher Wray stated at a RSA conference that the selection rate for interns is 5-6% — which is more selective than most Ivy League schools. In addition to the typical requirement of a transcript and resume, a full background investigation and polygraph test is also required for the extensive application process, according to Morris.
“You have to put references from different aspects of your life, from neighbors to professors to your roommates,” Morris said. “So it’s a lot.”
After applying in October 2018, Morris had a phone interview in November with the organization and was accepted in May 2019, two weeks before the internship started in Washington D.C. Morris worked in the Field Operations Support Services section, which helps maintain field offices, and was pleasantly surprised by the demeanor of the people she worked with.
“When you think of the FBI, you think of everyone wearing black suits, sunglasses, being really stern, and I thought it was going to be really serious, but … the people I worked with were some of the most down-to-earth people,” Morris said. “They cared about your life outside of work just as much as they cared about the work put into it, which was really incredible.”
Morris thinks that Harding students have an advantage when it comes to landing a successful career with organizations like the FBI because of the overall mindset of the Harding community.
“[The FBI’s] mission is to protect the American people and to uphold the constitution,” Morris said. “Their motto is ‘fidelity, bravery and integrity.’ And I think that Harding students really embody that. You’re never going to find better people to work … than people at Harding. It’s not just about learning hard skills at Harding. It’s about soft skills and how you interact with people and learning how to serve. I think that has helped me feel prepared to work for an organization like the FBI, that’s goal is to serve the people.”
Assistant Professor of Business Dan Summers also believes that employers such as the FBI return to campus year after year because they like what they see in Harding students. When Summers first started teaching at Harding, he noticed the optimism that was commonly found in students, which he thinks can be accredited to their faith. Further, Summers said that employers are drawn to Harding students because of their overall behavior, which sets the University apart from other schools.
“But what I see the employers valuing that [students] might not fully appreciate is more behavioral,” Summers said. “It’s the work ethic, honesty, moral values and principles.They’re dependable, they’re respectful, they’re used to working hard. And those are those intangibles that I think also facilitate these kinds of relationships that we have with these supporters for internships.”
Director for Professional Excellence Brian Harrington stated that the Center for Professional Excellence hosts four career fairs each year and 15 information sessions each semester to give students an opportunity to network with employers, including Meet the Firms, which is where Morris got in contact with the FBI. Harding students are equally as prepared academically as other universities, but employers routinely comment that they recruit at Harding because the students are special, according to Harrington.
“What sets Harding apart from other schools is the moral integrity that is emphasized by our professors… Each professor is encouraged to teach their class from a Christian perspective, which means emphasizing, establishing high morals and values. Students who take that to heart will perform well in the workforce,” Harrington said.