The Utah Data Cente, one of the NSA's data gathering facilities, in a 2014 photo released on July 9, 2014. (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
The reputation of the National Security Agency has taken quite a hit this year, what with fresh revelations from Edward Snowden hitting the press every week or two. The agency clearly needs some help on the public relations front, so how about some well-trained college students?
That’s right, the NSA posted a call for students to join its “Summer Strategic Communications Intern Program” to help with messaging.
Interns will assist the agency in crafting “accurate and timely information on NSA’s signals intelligence and information assurance missions and accomplishments to a variety of audiences using state-of-the-art messaging products.”
The agency could certainly use help with accuracy. Top NSA officials have routinely had to go back on the agency's prior assurances after being contradicted by materials from the Snowden files and related disclosures. For instance, claims that personal information hadn't been misused fell by the wayside after revelations that employees had spied on former lovers and secret court rulings disclosed the agency exceeded its legal authority.
It’s not just a text-based world anymore, either. The NSA sought interns with skills in television production, motion pictures and 3-D animation.
Interns are paid a salary (undisclosed), can stay in subsidized housing and may be eligible for round-trip airfare to get to and from school.
Not just anyone can apply, of course. Potential interns must be U.S. citizens eligible for a security clearance, with a GPA of at least 3.0 and two years of study in a related field.
“The idea was to help student interns get a better understanding of how NSA communicates with internal and external audiences to raise awareness of the agency’s mission and its unique contributions to national security,” agency spokeswoman Vanee Vines told Salon.
The NSA brings in about 500 interns a year through various programs, and most end up getting hired, Vines said.
Maybe next year, a few more could work in the constitutional rights division.