George Mason Biodefense PhD candidate Craig J. Wiener, Principal Consultant for Strategic Planning and Analysis at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), was recently honored as the recipient of the Sidney D. Drell Academic Award by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA).
Washington Exec caught up with Craig and interviewed him about his work, his award, and his favorite books.
An excerpt follows and you can read the entire interview here.
WashingtonExec: What more do you think organizations in the intelligence community should be doing to engage the millennial workforce?
Craig Wiener: This is an important question – I am going to speak about this from my perspective as a TA over the last three years in the most sought after national security courses at GMU SPGIA. I have worked closely with approximately 150 masters and PhD students, many of whom are younger than I am, and many of whom you could describe as “millennials.” They have specifically enrolled in the courses because of their desire to enter the intelligence community. These students are clearly talented, ambitious and are ready, willing, and able to work in areas of national security and intelligence activities, although for many, there are structural hiring impediments. Many of the students routinely discuss the difficulty of entering direct government service and ask for advice. The predominant issues I run across when speaking with them fall into basic two categories- the lack of an existing security clearance or lack of military service- both impediments are predominantly present in younger students, many of whom went from high school to college to graduate school.
I believe it is absolutely essential to provide an enhanced, simplified hiring authority to bring these types of students, and quite honestly their talent, energy and perspective into the government directly from graduate school. It is my understanding that some previously available pathways were discontinued due to legal challenges to previous parent programs. Therefore, I would specifically recommend a legally sound, phased direct hire process that is merit based regardless of prior military experience for graduate students with national security applicable academic training. This pathway would include the authority for universities who support the government in national security research to sponsor qualifying students for security clearances while they are still in school. I believe this future state program should include accommodations for qualified, actively cleared contract support staff who are concurrently in graduate school at the masters, JD or PhD levels, many of whom also cannot overcome the currently well-intentioned yet predominant hiring authorities. Members of this hybrid hiring track should have their prior work experience taken into account for appropriate grade in service appointments.
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